Losing Turkey

Posted by lex, on June 26, 2010

Commentary‘s Micheal Rubin charts the regression of Kemal Attaturk’s secularist vision back to an older cultural imperative:

While Turkish liberals, businessmen, and Western diplomats took solace in Erdogan’s outreach to Europe, his motivation was cynical. His ideological constituents had no interest in Europe, and Erdogan himself is intolerant of European liberalism and secularism. He criticized the European Court of Human Rights for failing to consult Islamic scholars when it upheld a ban on headscarves in public schools—a ban that dates back to Ataturk’s original reforms.

Erdogan’s ambitions to remake Turkey, however, reached far beyond superficial issues such as the veil. He sought to revolutionize education, dominate the judiciary, take over the police, and control the media. Erdogan worked to achieve not short-term gains on hot-button issues like the headscarf but rather a long-term cultural revolution that, when complete, would render past battles moot…

A decade ago, Turks saw themselves in a camp with the United States, Western Europe, and Israel; today Turkish self-identity places the country firmly in a camp led by Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Hamas. Turkey may be a NATO member, but polls nevertheless show it to be the world’s most anti-American country (although, to be fair, the Pew Global Attitudes Project did not conduct surveys in Libya or North Korea). Nor do Turks differentiate between the U.S. government and the American people: they hate Americans almost as much as they hate Washington. This is no accident. From almost day one, Erdogan has encouraged, and his allies have financed, a steady stream of anti-American and anti-Semitic incitement.

Erdogan’s revolution was slow, patient and brilliantly orchestrated. He has taken over the police and emasculated the military in its role as guardian of Kemalist secularism. He controls the courts and stifles the press. He has not merely reoriented Turkey’s foreign policy, he has realigned his nation’s economy, and his party has been rewarded for shifting their allegiance eastward with untraceable funds from the Gulf. Some of those funds in turn have gone to former Western diplomats and politicians too eager to hold out hope where hope has been lost who profit personally from the masquerade.

The only thing worse than losing a crucial ally, and a strategic bridge from the West to the East, is to be in denial of that loss. Erdogan showed Europe what it wanted to see by reforming the military, but his intentions were inwardly focused, in the short term at least.

Here at home, we are blessed with a native optimism that yields too quickly to naïveté. We tend to believe that the tide of freedom and personal liberty is always on the make, that democracy is not merely preferable to all alternatives but historically inevitable. But we have also grown tired of the world abroad, and our attention has shifted inward. Resources once dedicated to patrolling distant ramparts are being redeployed to perceived social needs closer to home. As our influence wanes, others will look to fill the space we vacate. In the ancient struggle between East and West, Turkey no longer has our back. They are at our back, with daggers drawn, and the Jews – once more – have become the canary in the Western coal mine.

We are poised to sell Turkey F-35s.

The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them. — V. I. Lenin

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Headlines, Politics

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