The nonpareil Hugh Fitzgerald on false dhimmi assumptions made about Islam vis-a-vis Turkey, and much more:
The refusal to allow the American government to use an American airbase for which a large rent is paid, the attacks by important members of the Turkish government or Parliament decrying the Americans in Iraq as “worse than the Nazis,” the acceptance of Arab propaganda about the “Palestinian people” which the Turks, who controlled the relevant territory, know perfectly well is a convenient political fiction designed to disguise the relentless Arab Jihad against Israel as merely a matter of “two tiny peoples,” and “compromise,” and “adjustment of borders” (all nonsense, all misunderstood by those who wish to misunderstand),the inability of the Turkish secularists to properly defend aginst the ruthlessness and guile employed by the Islamic forces in Turkey that are busy throwing off the constraints on Islam that Ataturk had so carefully constructed and deployed — all of this should cause a few grim conclusions to be drawn in Washington.
1) Islam is permanent, Kemalism transient. Islam will always be a threat, as long as it has not been so discredited, so weakened, so tied down, that it cannot again escape from its box.
The lesson of Turkey is that eternal vigilance on behalf of secularism is necessary, and those who have been the beneficiaries of such secularism are foolish not to recognize that it occasionally requires military force (that of the Turkish Army) and constant reinforcement of legal measures taken against the outward expression of Islam as a political and social force, to keep Islam in its place, since it cannot otherwise be dealt with or transmogrified into something less menacing.
2) The Cold War led to some assumptions about Islam which were false. The Americans did not know anything about Islam (and still that government knows very little). But they knew that Islam was incompatible with Communism, and that was good enough for them. They knew that the Turks they were likely to meet, the members of the Defense Ministry in Ankara, were stout fellows, secular, just the kind you could trust. In the same way, they “knew” that Iraq under “strongman” (that was his heroic epithet, until his mutilated corpse was dragged through the streets of Baghdad following the 1958 coup) Nuri al-Said, or Nuri Pasha, would stoutly be on “our” side and was therefore a linchpin in that ill-conceived CENTO (which died a natural death after that 1958 coup). They “knew” that the Shah was Our Man in Teheran, a “pillar of stability” (as Jimmy Carter called him, in making a toast to his regime). They “knew” that those Sandhurst-educated, ramrod-straight, delightly, almost Terry-Thomasly mustachioed Pakistani generals were, like those Turkish generals, “our sort,” and could be trusted to help us in the world-wide Campaign Against Communism, and so much more trustworthy than those slithery Indian leftists, with that Krishna Menon, and that pious Fabian-tainted Jawaharlal Nehru, still smelling of bouquets of flowers that bedecked him at Bandung.
And every single time the Americans have made an investment in a Muslim country, a Muslim regime, the good faith of Muslim people, the permanence and the unhindered use of a military base put up at great expense, by the Americans, they have been disappointed. The Moroccan base, the Wheelus Air Base outside Tripoli, the bases in Saudi Arabia — all gone, or going. The hopes for permanent bases in Iraq, in Kuwait, in Qatar are the fantasies of people who would save themselves a lot of time, and the taxpayers a lot of money, and the Infidel world a lot of heartache, if they only realized this.
It is too late to do what should and could have been done back in 1978 — demanding that Sadat allow America to stay in the Sinai, both to guarantee the peace and to take over those Israeli-built airbases in a region smack dab in the center of the Middle East, yet largely unpopulated by hostile locals (and with friendly Israelis nearby for R and R, and medical care, and supplies). It is not too late to figure out that wherever there is Islam, sooner or later there will always be hostility to Infidels, and the more powerful those Infidels, the more unwilling those Infidels are to bend to the dictates of Islam, the more hostility there will be.
3) The lesson of Turkey should be applied to Iran. Within a year, or two, or three, it is possible that the hideous Islamic Republic of Iran will fall. And it will be followed by a government reflecting the widespread disgust, in Iran, with Islam as a political force, and even with Islam, period. There may be those who will publicly embrace Zoroastrianism, not out of deep belief but out of a desire to be something, anything, other than Muslim — and why not the original, pre-Islamic belief that has the sheen of Persian history about it, in the same way that Firdowsi is treated as a nationalist hero for helping, linguistically, to prevent the arabization of Iran and the disappearance of Farsi.
But again, no one should assume that Iran is permanently de-Islamized. Islam will come back, inevitably. And that is why Iran must, whether or not it seems to favor Islam, has to have its nuclear project removed — because Islam is a permanent threat to Infidels, and no country, with a history of Islamic rule, can be trusted to have permanently put paid to Islam. In Turkey, after 80 years of a systematic attempt to constrain and weaken Islam, Muslim attitudes toward non-Muslims have come back, in a big way. That is the assumption that Infidels must make about Iran as well.
In other words, there can not be any let up in wariness, no let up in what should be a relentless and imaginative campaign to exploit all fissures, all internecine warfare, all resentments, within dar al-Islam. Jihadists have carefully exploited such pre-existing mental conditions as antisemitism and anti-Americanism, not least to split asunder the two parts of the West — Europe and America.
Two can play that game. But the Infidel side has not even begun. If it had, it would be using Iraq as a point to exploit the Sunni-Shi’a fissure, instead of attempting, crazily, to patch things up and make sure the Shi’a do not respond. And Iraq is the perfect place as well, by promoting an independent Kurdistan, to begin to let other non-Arab Muslims (such as Berbers in North Africa) begin to have hope that the Arab supremacist ideology within Islam can, in fact, be overcome.
These are both worth pursuing. But the spirit of geopolitics, grand strategy, the kind of thing that would have been obvious to any schoolboy in the age of Alfred Thayer Mahan or Sir Halford Mackinder, is now regarded as unseemly, not the kind of thing nice graduate students taking solemn seminars in “International Relations” at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, or the Georgetown Foreign Service Institute, or the Johns Hopkins Center for International Whateveritis, are likely to do — it smacks of Olden Days, and wallmaps with pins on them, and mad generals and crazed strategists, when we all know that the world has changed utterly, and we all need to find ways of Getting to Yes, in the time-honored manner of — oh, I don’t know, Roger Fisher or Tariq Ramadan or Rodney King or Kofi Annan or the “International Community” or the Easter Bunny, it hardly matters.