–¦GÃ¼l said that, in the case that the [Armenian] bill is accepted at the House of Representatives, there will be “˜a real shock in Turkey’ and that the Turkish government could not contain the demands by the public to halt cooperation with the United States”¦” (HÃ¼rriyet Web site, Feb. 08). — from this article
The so-called Kemalist Revolution — that is, the putting of systematic restraints on Islam as a political and social system, lasted roughly a quarter-century, from 1925-1949. When Menderes came into power in 1950, the counter-revolution began, with the dervish orders re-emerging, and a campaign of government mosque-building, and other measures that answered the demands of the mass of primitive Believers who then and now make up most of Turkey’s population. In 1955 came the attacks on the Greek community of Istanbul (see Speros Vryonis, “The Mechanism of Catastrophe”). The Americans failed to comprehend or to worry. After all, Turkey was a member of CENTO (which lasted, mostly as figment of American and British imagination, until 1958, when the overturning of the Iraqi regime by Col. Qassem changed everything).
Secularist Turks, advanced westernized Turks, the Turks who are the kind of Turks one meets abroad or in fashionable gatherings in Istanbul (and fails to see, much less read the minds of, all those other Turks who wait on you, or wait on the secularized westernized Turks who are your hosts), do not represent Turkey. They represent a part of Turkey. Perhaps they represent as much as a quarter of the population. But not more. And they will lose unless they do more to protect and to constantly expand the Kemalist undertaking. And that means as well being willing to rely on the army, that protector of the flame in Ankara, the one at Ataturk’s tomb, the one that is at the centre of the narrative woven of the Great Man, and the Great People, intended to supplement or even to supplant the narrative of Islam.
As for GÃ¼l’s threat, he seems not to realize that the need for Turkey now is not what it was once perceived to be. Russia is no longer a military threat. The listening posts, the airfields, are only of value if they can be used against the forces of Islam. If they cannot be, and so far they haven’t been, then they are no use at all. That fourth division was not allowed to enter Iraq from the north, from those American bases in Turkey — so what good are those bases, they must be asking themselves in the Pentagon, if they cannot be used as we will obviously be needing to use them?
Turkey’s significance to American plans has gone way down. Turkey’s behavior — its willingness to allow the crudest anti-American and antisemitic books and movies (“Valley of Wolves”), and for its political figures not merely to oppose the war in Iraq (good god, I oppose the war in Iraq) but also to depict the American soldiers as “worse than Nazis” — has not gone unnoticed and will not be forgotten here.
There are other things that should not be forgotten as well. A few years ago, a naive visitor, I was invited to dinner in Istanbul by those who might once have been called “Ottomans” in contradistinction to “Turks.” These secularist Turks had studied or sent their children to study in the West. They greatly disliked all signs of resurgent Islam, and were acidulous on the subject of how Muslim women would stand in line at the American consulate or embassy to obtain visas, carefully removing their hijabs and putting on earrings and lipstick just before entering the premises. And once they had made their pitch or filled out the right forms, upon existing removed those earrings, wiped off that lipstick, and put back that hijab.
Yet in my innocence I asked why the Hagia Sophia could not be made again into a church. They looked at me as if I simply had not understood, could not understand, Turkish reality. What seemed to me (and some other Western guests) a perfectly reasonable thing to do, struck them as a fantastic request. “If we did that,” the most vocal among the Turkish hosts replied, “we would have a revolution on our hands.”
I began to understand that even in “secular” Turkey, Kemalist Turkey, the Turkey for which Bernard Lewis had offered such a stout defense, was not the Turkey that Westerners imagine. The Turkey for which several figures recently prominent in the Administration once worked as registered foreign agents, was not the real Turkey. Turkey remained deeply Muslim, and one has only to turn to the astonishing apologetics of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (google his name, and “Jihadwatch” for more), a prominent historian of Ottoman science and now the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Countries, to see that the standards one normally applies cannot be applied in the case of many prominent Turkish academics. Filial piety, loyalty to Islam, simply clouds the mind and leads to the uttering of and belief in all sorts of nonsense.
No, the Hagia Sophia will not be turned into a church. And if it were, it would only be in order to win points from the Infidels that could be traded in for economic gain, and would not reflect any kind of spontaneous impulse to do right by the non-Muslims of what was once Byzantium and has been steadily islamized ever since — perhaps never so bloodily and cruelly since the early centuries of Seljuk and Ottoman conquest as in the 20th century.
See Vahakn Dadrian on the Armenian genocide, see Speros Vryonis (“The Mechanics of Destruction” or his polemic against Sanford Shaw).
Abdullah GÃ¼l has it all wrong. It is Turkey that should be trembling. Turkey that should be doing everything it now can to placate the Americans. It is Turkey that will not be allowed into the E.U. It is Turkey that needs American guarantees in the future chaos and confusion that will inevitably result — thank God — from the inevitable American withdrawal from Tarbaby Iraq.
He should get it right, or be replaced.
Because he doesn’t understand the precarious position of Turkey today.
But he will.