Thursday, 1 November 2007

Turkey, the EU and America

‘Recent polls,’ Victor Davis Hanson, the renowned American classicist and political commentator, writes, ‘reveal that Turks are among the most anti-American and anti-Christian peoples in the world, the latter fact not surprising to anyone who reads deeply of the 500-year history of Hellenic-Ottoman relations.’

While attributing the latest outburst of Turkish anti-Americanism to the US Congress’ Armenian holocaust resolution and US resistance to Turkish plans to invade northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels, Hanson feels that the emergence of these issues insufficiently explains the depth of Turkish hostility to America since, over time, Turkey has benefited considerably from its US alliance.

America, Hanson says, has treated Turkey well: ‘We support its entry into the EU; we tried to be fair in the Cyprus dispute (despite the Turkish brutal invasion in 1974); we offered a lot of money to use bases to supply the invasion of Iraq; we advise the Greeks patience in the face of constant Turkish overflights in the Aegean. We were a good ally in the Cold War and kept the Soviets doing to Turkey what it did to Eastern Europe.’

How then does Hanson account for the surge in anti-American hysteria in Turkey – which, he says, is tied to ‘perverted manifestations of anti-Semitism’ and revealed by the ‘mega-hit, anti-American film and subsequent TV series Valley of the Wolves (replete with murderous American soldiers and an organ-harvesting Jewish doctor)’?

Hanson believes Turkish anti-Americanism is deep-rooted and reflects a general hostility to the West in Turkey, now able to find expression as ‘the historical aberration of Ataturk's secularism’ is exposed and Islamic ideology and perceptions of the global order increasingly permeate Turkish society.

‘European Turkey’, Hanson argues, ‘is being overwhelmed, demographically and culturally, by anti-Western, anti-globalization Anatolian Islamism, and thus begins to replay the historical role of the Ottomans — whom, contrary to current orthodoxy, I don't find to have ever been positive for civilization as a whole.’

The rise of Anatolian Islamism in Turkey will put such strains on Turkey’s partnership with America, Hanson suggests, that US foreign policy makers should now be planning for irretrievable breakdown and the formation of ‘closer relations with Armenia, Kurdistan, Greece, Cyprus, and other regional neighbors’.

Developments in Turkey are so serious, Hanson concludes, that America ‘should quit denying the danger, or despair that without the old Turkey we are adrift in the Eastern Mediterranean. We are not.’

In my fantasy US cabinet VDH would be the next secretary of state; but unfortunately, in reality, this privilege, assuming Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2008, is likely to go to Richard Holbrooke.

Dick Holbrooke – fomer assistant secretary of state, former US ambassador to Germany, former US ambassador to the UN, architect of the Dayton Peace Accords and President Bill Clinton’s former special envoy to Kosovo and to Cyprus – is an ardent proponent of the US-Turkey alliance.

Turkey is, according to Holbrooke, ‘a frontline state that stands at the crossroads of almost every issue of importance to the United States on the Eurasian Continent’.

At a Brookings Institute lecture earlier this year, Holbrooke reiterated his view that Turkey and the US are ‘indispensable allies’, accused the Bush administration of mishandling relations with Turkey to a dangerous degree and berated Europe for not seeing ‘the strategic and historic necessity for negotiating Turkey's accession into the European Union’.

The root of the EU’s skeptical approach to Turkey – its failure to see that ‘Europe and Turkey need each other’ – according to Holbrooke, is Islamophobia and racism, a failure of European nation-states to adjust to the realities of globalisation and mass immigration – particularly Muslim immigration – which reactionary Europeans are frightened will dilute ethnic and cultural homogeneity, to which they are unreasonably attached.

Of course, for Americans like Holbrooke the nation-state and ethnic and cultural homogeneity are anathema, antiquated concepts, dirty words. Their vision of Europe is that it should come increasingly to resemble America – glorifying the individual and individual ‘rights’, skeptical of history and tradition, revelling in multiculturalism and the demise of ethnicity.

Now, leaving aside that what Americans like Holbrooke advocate is in fact the death of Europe and European culture; it is also deeply ironic that while Holbrooke castigates Europeans for wanting to preserve the nation-state and ethnic and cultural homogeneity, he cannot praise Ataturk – ‘a brilliant visionary’ – and Turkey highly enough; Ataturk, who was guided by the ruthless pursuit of Turkish ethnic homogeneity – a policy prosecuted by his successors with the same violence, fear and institutional discrimination; and Turkey, where devotion to the nation and the state borders on the psychotic and fascistic.

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