Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald wonders if policy should really be a matter of avoiding hurting other’s feelings:
Turkey has had a good run. Ataturk, “secular” Turkey, Bernard Lewis and “The Emergence of Modern Turkey,” Sanford Shaw, of course (without the Vryonis replique), those generals in Ankara meeting those American generals, the performance of those Turkish soldiers in Korea during the war, those airbases, that other base at Sinop, the assurance that Kemalism was forever, and that the numbers of the westernized Turks would always increase. Yes, a good run. And besides, what did it really matter — because wasn’t Islam throughout the Cold War seen only as “a bulwark against Communism”?
Now the discovery of another Turkey, la scoperta del imperio ottomano, or rather della Turquia, shows us that after the Cold War, when Turkey is no longer quite so necessary a place for listening-posts directed at the Soviet Union, the American bases are apparently not to be used for the only conceivable purpose for which they would now do much good: against those who, in Dar al-Islam, need to have their major weapons taken away. Turkey did not allow that fourth American division to invade from the north. Turkey has been critical of the invasion of Iraq for all the wrong reasons. An important Turkish official described the behavior of American soldiers as “worse than Nazis.”
The Islamic party (that is, the party that if it could would undo the Kemalist constraints on Islam, but itself is still constrained) was the party first of Erbakan and now of Erdogan. Erdogan, of course, famously said that “the minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks” (“Les minarets sont nos baionnettes, les coupoles nos casques et les mosquees nos casernes” is how Anne-Marie Delcambre puts it at the very end of her useful vademecum, “L’Islam des interdits.”).
And this business of American soldiers in Iraq being “worse than Nazis” was not an isolated incident. It became the theme of the most popular Turkish movie in history, which in addition to those Americans outdoing the Nazis, has a Jewish doctor who harvests organs for resale in the United States from the bodies of Iraqis murdered by those American Nazis at Abu Ghraib. It did boffo box office in Turkey, and is now playing to Muslim audiences in Europe and elsewhere. And Mein Kampf became a surprise best-seller in Turkey. Why was that, do you think? What unsettlements of the collective Turkish soul, what unpleasant revelations about things, about Islam itself, can no longer be hidden from view? Yet the response has been not to own up or to investigate the Armenian genocide and to blame, as rightly they could be blamed, not “Turks” but rather “Turks and Kurds both inflamed by the attitudes that were prompted by passages in the Qur’an and Hadith.” If, however, “secular” Turks merely pocket the benefits of the Kemalist constraints, but do not vigilantly ensure that those constraints are not undone, and do nothing to continue to press for further constraints on Islam, they are lost. Yet what are they doing to create even more secularists in Turkey who can support one another against the ever-present black reactionaries (some of them “Grey Wolves”)? The latter may talk the language of “the Turk” and the “Sun People,” but under it all, as under pan-Arabism as well, it is really a deeply Muslim view that infuses things.
Which Turkey is it? Last in time. And last in time is not #1 above, but #2.
Turkey is still a member of NATO. But NATO has to begin to make plans while keeping in mind the dangers, within Western Europe, of a large Muslim population, and of what might happen should that population be able to lay its hands, even through the political process, on Western armories. How long will this matter be delayed? And what will be the inhibiting effect of having a Turkish delegation — even a delegation of seemingly secular generals — be in the same room?
Shall policy now be a matter of not hurting anyone’s feelings, not letting the Turks feel left out? Or will it be a matter of protecting the Western world and its people, physically and in all other ways — or is that too much to ask?