Two weeks ago, during the aftermath, or more aptly in the wake, of the Mavi Marmara, and the Hamas-and-Al-Qaeda-linked I.H.H.’s propaganda stunt, a number of commentators had their say on Turkey, that is, Turkey in its malevolent present incarnation under Erdogan and his AKP party.
Quite a few people seemed to think they knew why Erdogan was behaving as he was behaving.
There was, for example, quick-off-the-mark Tony Blair. Tony Blair, you may need reminding, has always been an enthusiastic – because uncritical, and unthinking – supporter of Turkey’s admission to the E.U. In 2005, just after a vote in Austria that suggested some lack of enthusiasm (could memories of two Ottoman attempts to seize Vienna have anything to do with it?) for Turkey’s admission, it was Blair who thought he should remind everyone in Europe, and reassure the Turks too, that Turkey simply had to have a “future” inside the E.U.
In The Guardian for 30 September 2005, under the headline “Blair insists that Turkey’s future in the EU,” appeared this:
Tony Blair today insisted Turkey’s future was in the EU as British officials in Brussels worked to dispel a looming crisis over next week’s talks on its membership.
In an interview with Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, the prime minister said he would work hard to help Turkey realise its EU ambitions.
“I sincerely believe that EU membership is Turkey’s future,” Mr Blair – a long-time supporter of Ankara joining the 25-nation bloc – told the paper. “We shall work towards achieving that.”
Nor in the five years since then, as the nature of Islam becomes clearer and clearer to those willing to take account of reality and the day’s daily Jihad News from around the world, has smiling Tony Blair, pocketing his dishonorable honoraria, ever given any hint of rethinking this view. (Like Clinton, with whom he has so much in common, Blair has made 100 million dollars in speaking fees and consultancy work since he left “public service” to make “some real money.”) Erdogan’s defense of Ahmedinajad, and his repeated visceral denunciations of Israelis (Peres at Davos) and of Israel for daring to defend itself against the Fast and Slow Jihadists of Hamas and Fatah, have made no difference.
So it was no surprise that, a few weeks ago, Blair should come out yet again with his support for Turkey’s admission to the E.U., even after the Mava Marmara incident, and even after Erdogan’s defense of, and expression of solidarity with, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Jerusalem Post reported:
Quartet special envoy Tony Blair said in an interview on Channel 10 on Tuesday that the Turkish change was very worrisome. He expressed hope that out of the crisis a new bridge would be built between Israel and Turkey.
Blair, who advocated Turkey joining the EU in 2005, said the cold shoulder the EU gave Turkey led to Ankara’s decision to turn in the direction of Iran.
Let’s repeat that: “Blair…said the cold shoulder the EU gave Turkey led to Ankara’s decision to turn in the direction of Iran.”
So it is the E.U. that “pushed” Turkey, or even “forced” Turkey, or rather Erdogan and his fellows in the DKP, to “turn in the direction of Iran.”
Astonishing, you may think, in its idiocy, but apparently this idiocy is not Blair’s alone.
For on June 10, in the Wall Street Journal, there appeared a piece on p. A15, under the headline “Gates Says EU Pushed Turkey Away.” And the sub-headline reads: “U.S. Defense Secretary Blames Bloc’s Resistance to Granting Membership for Ankara’s Turn from Israel and the West.”
And here’s more of that article:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused the European Union of pushing Turkey toward the East by its resistance to letting the mainly Muslim nation join the bloc, the closest any senior U.S. official has come to saying the West risks losing Turkey.
The comments, made Wednesday to reporters while Mr. Gates was in London and reported by news agencies, came as Turkey voted against a U.S.-backed resolution at the United Nations Security Council mandating new sanctions against Iran. Mr. Gates also expressed “concern” at the sharp deterioration in relations between U.S. allies Turkey and Israel, over the killing of Turkish citizens by Israeli soldiers on a ship bound for Gaza last week.
“I personally think that if there is anything to the notion that Turkey is, if you will, moving eastward, it is, in my view, in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought,” Mr. Gates said, according to the agency reports.
“We have to think long and hard about why these developments in Turkey [are occurring] and what we might be able to do to counter them and make the stronger linkages with the West more apparently of interest and value to Turkey’s leaders,” he said.
And now, in a Gogolian vein, from the Simply Idiotic of Blair and Gates to the Idiotic In All Respects of the inimitable Tom Friedman, in his column entitled “Letter From Istanbul” (and sure enough, he was in Istanbul, no doubt staying at the five-star hotel on the Bosphorus, and enjoying the Times expense-account for all it is worth). Of course the column, for all of that “a dispatch from the front” suggestion, could just as easily have been written, say, from a Dunkin’ Donuts in Newark, New Jersey. And Friedman has an Explanatory Theory for Turkey’s behavior, as tom-friedmans-of-the-times so often do, and this one might be called the Vacuum-Packed Theory.
For Tom Friedman thinks that Turkey’s behavior, or rather, the behavior of the Islamizing regime of Erdogan, is explained by “a series of vacuums that emerged [sic] in and around Turkey in the last few years [and] have drawn Turkey’s Islamist government – led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdgoan’s Justice and Development Party – away from its balance point between East and West. [Now time for the friedmanian Portentous:] This could have enormous implications. Turkey’s balancing role has been one of the most important, quiet, stabilizers in world politics. [!] You only notice it when it is gone. Being in Istanbul [instead of at that Dunkin’ Donuts in Newark, or possibly just in his study, and actually reading some relevant material that might enlighten him as to Islam, and the Return to Islam in Turkey] convinces me that we could be on our way to losing it if all these vacuums get filled in the wrong ways.”
And the vacuums include a “vacuum” of “leadership in the Arab-Muslim world” which Turkey may wish, according to Friedman, to fill. The vacuum has come about because, for example, Saudi Arabia is “asleep.” That will come as news to those on the receiving end of all those mosques and madrasas and non-stop clever propaganda campaigns financed by the Saudis all over the world. And the best way for Erdogan to “fill” that vacuum is to attack Israel, “loudly bashing Israel over its occupation [sic] and praising Hamas [the Fast Jihadists] instead of the more responsible Palestinian Authority [Slow Jihadists of Fatah]…”
And another “vacuum” is that which Friedman discerns inside Turkey itself, a “vacuum” of secular leadership. Well, there is plenty of secular leadership, but naturally, secularists may differ among themselves, while those who seek to Bring Back Islam are working for the same goal and can more easily make common cause. And Friedman appears to be unaware of how Erdogan has used the requirements imposed by the E.U. itself to take away the power of the chief defender of Kemalism, or secularism, that is, the Turkish army. Nor does he say anything about the non-stop campaign to weaken other centers of secular power, including the magistrates, the journalists, the university rectors and the most advanced professors. He is describing the results of this relentless campaign against the defenders of Kemalism as a “vacuum” that just occurred, when it is the result of Erdogan and his supporters plotting and planning, and doing everything they can, to remove the secular opposition from all positions of power and influence inside Turkey.
But the most important “vacuum” according to the egregious Friedman is the first one: the “vacuum” that was created somehow when Turkey was not immediately welcomed, a friend with every conceivable benefit, into the “Christian club.” It is nothing of the kind, but it is a club that does not wish 70 million Muslims to enter, as well as all those non-Turkish Muslims too to whom Erdogan has hinted Turkish citizenship might someday be granted. Once Turkey is in the E.U., these Muslims will be able to move freely about the cabin of Schengenland once the takeoff has occurred. And the E.U., unaware of the fatal weight of the Turkish passenger allowed on, turns off the seatbelt sign, and now — va-va-voom — anything goes.
Here is Friedman blaming the E.U.:
The first vacuum comes courtesy of the European Union. After a decade of telling the Turks that if they wanted E.U. membership they had to reform their laws, economy, minority rights and civilian-military relations – which the Erdogan government systematically did – the E.U. leadership has now said to Turkey: “Oh, you mean nobody told you? We’re a Christian club. No Muslims allowed.” The E.U.’s rejection of Turkey, a hugely bad move, has been a key factor prompting Turkey to move closer to Iran and the Arab world.
Friedman’s essential emptiness is on display in this little paragraph. First, the chutzpah of the overlooking of the obvious. To wit, the changes that Erdogan made, ostensibly to “comply” with the E.U., were really made in order to break the power of the army and the secular magistrates, his most steadfast and powerful opponents. As always, Friedman misstates and he overstates. He knows that you don’t know exactly what Turkey has done or not done to “reform their laws, economy, minority rights and civilian-military relations,” and you don’t know why, when some of these things were done, they may have been done. But Friedman has no idea, either. He is not a detail man.
Then there is the misstatement of the E.U. supposedly telling Turkey “we’re a Christian club.” No one in the E.U. could possibly have said or even hinted at that, and no one in post-Christian Europe would do so. Nor did anyone say “no Muslims allowed” when there are now tens of millions of Muslims, alas, already inside the countries of Western Europe, with behavior so different from that of all other, non-Muslim, immigrants, and so very much the same among the different populations of Muslim immigrants no matter what European country they have managed to settle within. But it makes things simpler, snappier, and that’s what Tom Friedman likes, that’s what, after he does the world-capital-hopping hokey-pokey and turns himself about, that’s what he’s all about.
And then he says that “[t]he E.U.’s rejection of Turkey, a hugely bad move, has been a key factor prompting Turkey to move closer to Iran and the Arab world.”
So here we are again, with Friedman repeating or bleating the same notes earlier emitted by smiling Tony Blair and dour-faced Robert Gates: that it is the E.U.’s “rejection of Turkey” that has been a “key factor” in causing Turkey to behave as, suddenly, many in the Western world have at long last begun to notice after the attempt to run diplomatic interference for the Islamic Republic of Iran, and after the collaboration with Hamas through the Mavi Marmara incident deliberately provoked by the Hamas-and-Al-Qaeda-linked I.H.H.
This is utter nonsense, and it could only be said by someone who has not followed, and does not understand, the slow and steady growth of the party of Erdogan, and the power of people who want to undo the Kemalist constraints systematically placed on Islam as a political and social force in modern Turkey ever since the 1920s, and maintained since sometimes with coups, and only successfully undone by Erdogan and his party over the past decade.
But Erdogan did not arrive at his desire to undo Kemalism, and his dislike of the West, because of the E.U. He may claim that is the case, but by now we should all have learned to ignore that, and to examine the underlying ideology that animates Erdogan and his supporters – that is, Islam. As a young man, remember, Erdogan wrote, produced, and acted in a play, Mas-Kom-Ya, which takes its name from the three “enemies” that Erdogan identified – the Masons, the Communists, and the Jews (Mason, Kommunist, Yahud). In 1998 Erdogan was sentenced to ten months in jail (he served four) for reciting the line about how the “mosques are our barracks, the domes are our helmets, the minarets are our bayonets, the Believers are our soldiers.” Erdogan has been fixed in his views for his entire adult life. Only someone who had not followed him, and had remained ignorant because simplification and inattention to detail are that someone’s necessary stock in trade, could not know that. That includes Blair and Gates as Permanent Top Bananas in the slips-sliding Corridors of Power, both being too “busy” to study up on Erdogan. It also includes Friedman, last and least, unwilling to change his highly-rewarding modus operandi in order to actually make sense of things for those who still rely on him, or even accord him a respect he never deserved.
Did Friedman not notice how the Turkish government refused to allow a fourth American division to enter Iraq from the north? Did he not notice how high Turkish officials described American soldiers in Iraq as like Nazis or even “worse than Nazis” without any reprimand? Did he fail to notice the way that Erdgoan treated the Armenian matter, and repeated the nonsense about Armenian attacks on Turks as being ignored, and as being morally equivalent to the mass killings of Armenians, both in 1915 and the years following, and – when no war was on – in 1894-96? Did he not notice the popularity of that viciously anti-American and antisemitic Turkish movie “Valley of the Wolves,” where American soldiers act like Nazis and a Jewish doctor harvests the organs of Iraqis who had been killed, for sale to clients in Los Angeles, New York, and Tel Aviv?
And while Friedman offers a hint of noting the domestic politics of Turkey in his “third vacuum,” he apparently failed to note the attacks, over the last few years, on the university rectors and magistrates, on secular businessmen and their media empires (Dogan), and on all those who might stand up to Erdogan’s relentless attempts to reclaim Turkey for Islam. For Islam, as Erdogan rightly says, cannot be divided into “moderate” Islam and another kind (the kind some in the West with their foolish and false Machiavellianism call “Islamism”), “for there is only one kind of Islam.”
Turkey is behaving the way it is because the forces of Islam, under Erdogan, have steadily fought to become the molders of Turkish minds, and the shapers of Turkish policy. That – the Return to Islam and the Undoing of Kemalism – is what explains Turkish behavior, including the vicious attacks on Israel, and the full-throated embrace of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anyone can say–and no doubt some will – that this or that act by the West, or some part of the West, is what “turned” Turkey from “West to East.” Why, I suppose someone could say that the interest in the Armenian massacres and the resolutions passed by various Western parliaments about those massacres helped to “turn Turkey” to the East. But really, was that it? These are all excuses, and they excuses that have the effect of preventing any intelligent examination of the Return to Islam, and of Islam itself. And that is a pity, because the Turkish example has many things to tell us. It tells us, for example, that any secular class that benefits, as some Turks did, from constraints put in place against Islam, has a duty to vigilantly preserve and defend and extend those constraints, and should not leave it up to the army to defend secular interests against a Return to Islam.
The example of Turkey also shows that Islam is a powerful force. It keeps, like Rasputin, coming back even when you think you have taken care of it. Western polices ought to be based on this understanding, and no permanent trust put in any state peopled by Muslims, even if that state is under the temporary control by secularists, whether in Turkey, before Erdogan, or in Iran, before Khomeini, or in Turkey, after Erdogan (for he may well lose the next election) or in Iran, after the epigones of Khomeini are defeated. No nuclear weapons, no major weaponry of any kind, no reliance on a Muslim state to be a permanent ally. That just cannot be.
Blair doesn’t like to think about Islam. He’s said to be “deeply religious” – a convert to Catholicism – and thus, like Bush, also someone saved by religion, he’s inclined to think that anything that is called a “religion” must be 1) worthy of automatic respect and 2) exempt from any critical scrutiny, or at least from any public expression of the results of such critical scrutiny. And Gates – Gates has never given signs of grasping the nature of the ideology of Islam, for he’s a man who thinks war consists of soldiers, rifles, Bradley fighting vehicles, helicopters, tanks, and not of immigration policies, and banning of Saudi money to pay for mosques and madrasas, and vigilant monitoring of Muslim Da’wa efforts in our prisons and among the psychically marginal outside of prisons, where Adult-Onset Islam can turn a nondescript American citizen into a mortal threat.
And then there is Tom Friedman, a clown, a simplifier and snappy-title man, all “The World Is Flat” and never mind if what I say today I will be changing, as the winds change, tomorrow. If you want someone to explain the world to your collected franchise-holders, or bankers, or others too busy to keep informed themselves, without really informing them, and carefully avoiding any need for real thought, then Tom Friedman is, and always will be, your man, until another mountebank with a tireless booking agent comes along to arrange those lectures and gather and process those fat checks. But as for promoting understanding – oh, that you will still have to do on your own.
And one final observation. Turkey has become what it has become because Erdogan, and his followers, are not “cultural Muslims,” and not “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslims, but true Muslims. And a true Muslim, that is, one who takes Islam seriously, will naturally, and inevitably, end up with the kind of attitudes so much on display in Turkey this last week, this last month, this last year, this last decade.
But what if that were not true? What if it were not the Return to Islam, and its effects, natural and inevitable, that explained the attitudes and behavior of many Turks and certainly of the Turkish government, whipping up those Turks, today? What if Blair and Gates and Friedman were right, and it was the reluctance of so many countries in the E.U. to admit Turkey to full membership, that “explained” the behavior of Erdogan and of Turkey? Blair and Gates and Friedman all appear to think that the obvious answer is that the E.U. should drop its objections, and admit Turkey. In other words, the imperiled countries of Western Europe should allow into the E.U., as its most populous member, a Muslim Turkey where Islam is resurgent, and where, it has been suggested, other, non-Turkish Muslims, might even be extended citizenship so that they, too, could become part of the E.U.
Neither Blair, nor Gates, or Friedman, seems aware of what we at this site all know, and that so many Europeans now, to their enormous sorrow, know.
To wit: The large-scale presence of Muslims in the countries of Western Europe has created a situation, both for the indigenous non-Muslims and for other, non-Muslim immigrants, that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous than would be the case without that large-scale Muslim presence. No one can deny the truth of that assertion.
Or rather, only a few can do so, and that is if they refuse to learn, or are incapable of learning, and in detail, about the texts and tenets of Islam, and how those explain the behavior of Muslims in Europe today.
And among those who refuse to learn are Tony Blair, for many years and until recently the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Robert Gates, the present Secretary of Defense of the United States, and Tom Friedman, a well-known self-promoter and columnist for our best-known newspaper.
And that, you see, is part – a very large part – of the problem.