No Thanks for Turkey

Turkey is on the enemy's side.

For political writers, there's a balance between the joys of being shown to be a successful prophet and the anguish of a Cassandra whose warnings are ignored - the more so since Scragged's predictions for the future are not usually terribly optimistic.  A hard-left turn towards economically-devastating socialism in America; the creeping Islamization of Europe; an apocalyptic Iran and an exhausted, self-doubting Israel; none of these will bring about any good.

Every individual day seems much like the last, however, as we write about impending doom and then sit down to dinner with the kids.

Once in a while, though, there are times when our predictions come crashing home more vividly than we ever imagined.  A little more than a year ago, we wrote on "Turkey, Islam, ACORN, and the Death of Democracy," exploring the history of the Turkish nation, its strong secular-democratic tradition, and its recent slide towards Islamism.

We worried about the fate of Turkey's non-Muslim minorities after the constitutional powers of the secular military had been stripped away as the Turks yielded to European pressure leaving the generals no longer able to prevent Islamist hegemony:

What will become of Turkey's secular, Christian, Kurdish, Armenian, and other minorities?  Well, for now, they've nobly continued to struggle via the political process (some Kurds excepted).  Turkish law now permits headscarves and Islamic garb, but it doesn't require them.  What, though, will happen as the years pass, the rules and expectations grow tighter, and those who would not live as Muslims find themselves being pressured to do so?  What will happen as their free participation in the political process grows more difficult?  How about when restrictions are placed on women, such as are common in so many other Muslim countries?

Our vision was far too small.  We were looking inward - that is, we anticipated that Turkey's Islamist government would oppress its own non-Muslim citizens.  Instead, we see that Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan has far bigger game in mind: He wants to join the global jihad and take on the eternal Jew.

Pouring Oil on Troubled Flames

The ongoing furore over Israel's violent response to the so-called "Freedom Flotilla" which attempted to run the Gaza blockade has been falsely depicted as Israeli overreaction to a well-meaning gesture by international humanitarians.  It has become clear that the flotilla was intentionally assembled and staffed with thugs by the Turkish government allied with Turkish Islamic terrorist groups that masquerade as charities.

The international anti-Semitism expressed by what is, after all, a member of NATO and a decades-long American ally has even the Washington Post concerned:

The Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan ... since Monday has shown a sympathy toward Islamic militants and a penchant for grotesque demagoguery toward Israel that ought to be unacceptable for a member of NATO...

All of the violence occurred aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, and all of those who were killed were members or volunteers for the Islamic "charity" that owned the ship, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

The relationship between Mr. Erdogan's government and the IHH ought to be one focus of any international investigation into the incident. The foundation is a member of the "Union of Good," a coalition that was formed to provide material support to Hamas and that was named as a terrorist entity by the United States in 2008. In discussions before the flotilla departed, Turkish officials turned down offers from both Israel and Egypt to deliver the "humanitarian" supplies on the boats to Gaza and insisted Ankara could not control what it described as a nongovernmental organization.

The violence came as no surprise - violence was intended all along as we've previously noted.  Now there's evidence that Erdogan knew of the thugs' violent plans before the ships even left.  Given that Israel's blockade of Gaza is a legal action under the international laws of war and given that Turkey sponsored an attempt to run the blockade, Turkey has now perpetrated an act of war against Israel - one which would only get worse if the Turkish navy escorts another flotilla as Erdogan has suggested.

Nor is Turkey merely making trouble with Israel.  In a stunning act of betrayal of both NATO and the United States, Erdogan declared Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be "a friend" despite his oft-stated threats to eliminate Israel and his long-term pursuit of nuclear weapons - which Turkey denies, and recently supported by voting against additional anti-Iran sanctions.

Does Erdogan not realize that Iranian nuclear weapons would be a threat against Turkey too?  Does he, perhaps still count on American and NATO defenses, no matter how many times he slaps us in the face?

Or does he share, with Ahmadinejad, the dream of a global Islamic caliphate, in which the borders between Muslim states are of no consequence?

East is East, West is West - And Turkey Is Choosing

For centuries, the Ottoman empire symbolized the Eastern principality and the Muslim world.  In the 1920s, Kemal Ataturk dragged the slimmed-down nation of Turkey into the modern world - or, at least, he pulled his ruling elites that way.  Unfortunately, while Turkey's cities became modern, secular, and free, the rural spaces retained both their traditional fundamental Islam and their far higher birthrate.  "Demography is destiny," and Turkey's destiny has made itself manifest despite Ataturk's heroic efforts.

The end of Turkey as a free, Western, secular, liberty-loving nation and its replacement by just another violent, anti-Semitic, terrorist-supporting member of the Muslim ummah must count as one of the sadder failures in the saga of human liberty.  The people of Turkey were offered the path to freedom and development by their Founding Father; but they've used their very freedom of the vote in order to reject it, much like the Gazans voted to be ruled by the terrorists of Hamas.

Israel and its supporters have realized the changed status of Turkey; where once Jewish PACs on Capitol Hill worked to shield Turkey from embarrassment, they'd never do so now.  Both Democratic and Republican congressmen have realized that Turkey is no longer an ally either of America or of Israel.

So the only question left is: when will our President figure it out?  And when he figures it out, will he even care?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
Taking on the Eternal Jew didn't do Hitler a whole lot of good. Maybe this is the beginning of the end for him?
June 17, 2010 6:02 PM
Our president is incapable of dealing with Reality, so figuring it out is not an option.
How is the family? Do they tire of your gloomatic glee or do they gloss over the glumness? ..or am I stretching the alliterative allusions beyond their aphelion?
June 18, 2010 8:29 AM
In this respect I would only send views of an American author. Petrarch,Julia,irvnx may read empty stomach(bias free) & try to digest the facts.Don't curse your president.Most probably he is the most balanced president americans have elected after Abraham Lincoln.Why 6.5 million jews on this planet are trying to terror whole world(including USA)?Here is the article:-
Israel and the Distortion of American Politics
Posted by Ethan Casey on June 5, 2010 ยท 28 Comments

SEATTLE, June 5 - "This is a moment," my friend Todd Shea said over lunch here, two days after Israel attacked the flotilla trying to enter Gaza with relief supplies. "And if he blows this moment, he's not going to get it back again."

"I just hate it when he tries to be bipartisan," said another friend.

"There's times to be bipartisan," said Todd, "and there's times when right is right and wrong is wrong."

President Obama's credibility was already wounded before the Gaza incident, and his failure to condemn it personally and forcefully is only the latest in a string of disappointments for many of us who voted for him. But the killings in international waters, in the context of Israel's longstanding centrality to the entire planet's fate, bring all actions and evasions into sharp relief. And the moment's urgency compels us to acknowledge that if we continue to look for leadership to the President of the United States, the failure will no longer be his but our own.

This isn't about Obama. We get the leaders we deserve, and what we're willing to tolerate is a measure of our character. And what we should no longer tolerate is politics as usual - especially given how influential Israel is on politics as usual in America.

I've never been to Israel, and I've long made a point of not writing about it. It's too far from my own bailiwicks, and too close to the bone. (I did co-edit a collection of writings narrating events in the Middle East between September 2000 and mid-2002, in a range of voices including right-wing settlers, trainee suicide bombers, Jewish and Arab Americans, and Desmond Tutu, among many others.) But as the author of two books that emphasize the human dimension of a self-consciously Muslim country, I've come to see Israel as the elephant in the global living room that it is. And I've come to see that, as an American, I do have a dog in this fight.

The first reason any of us should care about Palestine is that we are human beings. "Her primary concern is that the 1.5 million people of Gaza get their humanitarian needs," Jennifer Sheetz, the daughter of my friend Kathy Sheetz, told me on Thursday, when Kathy herself was still unreachable because the Israelis had confiscated her cell phone. Kathy is a registered nurse who lives in Richmond, California and was on the flotilla. "She feels that the situation has to change, and it's in Israel's best interests too," said Jennifer.

Muslims have views on Israel that are both predictable and understandable. "The Jews are doing to the Palestinians what Hitler did to them," a woman told me last year in Hyderabad, India. "I have no personal thing with Jews. I admire them, I know some of them. They made the desert bloom and this and that. But how did they do this to people? My aunt went to the Gaza Strip. She said every day people are being taken away, people are dying."

Jews who choose to criticize Israel have a certain standing. That is what makes Peter Beinart's extremely timely New York Review of Books article "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment" so powerful. "In the American Jewish establishment today the language of liberal Zionism - with its idioms of human rights, equal citizenship, and territorial compromise - has been drained of meaning," Beinart wrote, before the attack on the flotilla. ". Of course, Israel - like the United States - must sometimes take morally difficult actions in its own defense. But they are morally difficult only if you allow yourself some human connection to the other side. Otherwise, security justifies everything. The heads of AIPAC and the Presidents Conference should ask themselves what Israel's leaders would have to do or say to make them scream 'no.' . If the line has not yet been crossed, where is the line?"

I'm grateful to Beinart for the use he's making of his standing as an American Jew. I couldn't have written the article he wrote. What I can write is an article that claims my own standing, as an American who is neither Jewish nor Muslim.

Being human should be enough, but I want to emphasize the specificity of what I'm claiming. I object, as an American, to the severe distortion that Israel's behavior and presumption have inflicted for far too long on the politics of my country. And I decline to be bullied by the claim, whether implicit or overt, that Jewish suffering is somehow unique. If you want power, then you sacrifice the moral high ground; it's not feasible to hold both. Taboos are inevitable in every society, but there are moments when we must allow or even force ourselves to see the truth. This is such a moment.

June 19, 2010 1:03 PM

Sorry, but that article is pretty lousy. Full of great sounding sentences that fall apart if you poke them a little.

For instance:

"If you want power, then you sacrifice the moral high ground; it's not feasible to hold both"

Why? What if you're the most powerful AND the most moral? Why must one assume that the poorest/weakest are the most moral? Isn't it possible to be both?

The Scragged writers want their readers to think. You can see that in article after article. The one you sent, by Ethan, doesn't ask readers to think; it asks readers to feel. I'd rather think.
June 19, 2010 1:22 PM
See the truth, eh? Let's try this scenario...
Everyone knows Calcutta has considerably more starving and miserable people than, say, Gaza.
What if the Pakistani government were to organize an anti-poverty 'flotilla' to help the destitute people? Can anyone see the Indian navy allowing this to happen? Of course not, and for a number of reasons.
1. Impoverished people of Calcutta have not declared war on India because they're presumably in dire straits.
2. Calcutta has not vowed to destroy India.
3. We don't hear of 'desperate' denizens of Calcutta hijacking planes, planting bombs and generally launching suicide attacks designed to kill as many non-Hindus as possible.
4. Where would Pakistan--with a history chequered with murder, mayhem, attempted genocide and autocratic rule--get off presuming to 'embarrass' the Indian government by feeding the hungry of Calcutta?
This is not about '6.5 million jews on this planet are trying to terror whole world(including USA)-, Mr Puri. Nor does it, as Ethan Casey solemnly puts it, 'allow or even force ourselves to see the truth.'
It's more about selectively seeking and finding the truth than anything else.
If they really cared for the 'truth', let Turkey--along with all those idiotic, self-righteous and seriously biased 'activists'--organize flotillas to help provide relief to starving African nations and many other victims of religious repression.
June 19, 2010 1:39 PM
The Times may be catching on to what is going on in Turkey:

Letter From Istanbul, Part 2
An inner struggle is going on as Turkey tries to figure out its new identity.

I leave Istanbul with four questions that Turks asked me echoing in my head. Forget the answers, just these questions will tell you all you need to understand the situation here. The four questions, which were asked of me by different Turkish journalists, academics or businessmen, can be summarized as follows:

One: Do you think we are seeing the death of the West and the rise of new world powers in the East? Two: Tom, it was great talking to you this morning, but would you mind not quoting me by name? I'm afraid the government will retaliate against me, my newspaper or my business if you do. Three: Is it true, as Prime Minister Erdogan believes, that Israel is behind the attacks by the Kurdish terrorist group P.K.K. on Turkey? Four: Do you really think Obama can punish Turkey for voting against the U.S. at the U.N. on Iran sanctions? After all, America needs Turkey more than Turkey needs America.

The question about the death of the West is really about the rise of Turkey, which is actually a wonderful story. The Turks wanted to get into the European Union and were rebuffed, but I'm not sure Turkish businessmen even care today. The E.U. feels dead next to Turkey, which last year was right behind India and China among the fastest-growing economies in the world - just under 7 percent - and was the fastest-growing economy in Europe.
June 20, 2010 1:09 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...