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23 November 2009

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JohnH

Two of the "bad boys" just happen to be neighbors of Turkey. Of course, the US doesn't care a whit about regional problems. But Turkey does. And it can't really address regional water and demographic problems (Kurds) without talking to it neighbors.

Unless the US starts to play a constructive role in the region, someone will inevitably step into the breach. In this case, it is Turkey.

Israel should follow Turkey's example, instead of vilifying them for their good neighbor policies.

RAISER William

Good comment on the Post article. Too bad your reasoned response doesn't receive wider circulation.

Patrick Lang

William Raiser

The right people read it. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

The Washington Post?

This would mean Eugene Meyer:

"Months later in 1933 he bought the Washington Post at a bankruptcy auction, the paper having been ruined by its spendthrift socialite owner, Ned McLean. Over the next twenty years, Meyer spent millions of dollars of his own money to keep the money-losing paper in business, while focusing on improving its quality; by the 1950s, it was finally consistently profitable and was increasingly recognized for good reporting and important editorials. As publisher, Meyer occasionally contributed to stories: his friendship with the British Ambassador, Lord Lothian, led to a Washington Post scoop on reporting of Edward VIII's relationship with Wallis Simpson."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Isaac_Meyer

Note the references to the Lazard banking concern ("After college, Meyer went to work for Lazard Freres, where his father was a partner) and his chairmanship of the US Fed not to mention his close ties to the British (through Lazard etc)...and so on.

Any wonder the Post puffed Tony Blair and New Labour not to mention its supporting Neoconism and the war in Iraq???

US foreign policy in the Middle East must take into account Turkey, the Arab States, Iran, and Israel and find the proper balance to protect US interests.

The Post would have the US operate on the basis of an Israel-centric foreign policy. Eugene Meyer would no doubt be pleased...

Lysander

Erdogan may personally be an "Islamist," but the quandary for neocon thinkers goes well beyond that. The fact of the matter is, the interests of Turkey and those of Israel are no longer in alignment.

After the Iraq war and the creation of a Kurdish semi-state, Turkey has taken a hit. Israel may view Kurdistan as a potential ally against Arabs, Iran or whatever, but Turkey views it as a threat to itself.

Second, Iran and Turkey are not natural enemies. They have no territorial dispute and have not been at war in living memory. Iran has the natural gas Turkey needs and is a market for its goods. Win Win all around. And they both dislike the idea a Kurdish state.

Add to that the war in Gaza and you get a Turkish public that is not happy with Israel at all.

None of that will not change even if a military government takes over in Ankara.

Now there is no advantage for Turkey in open hostility with Israel, but neither is the peas in a pod relationship neocons had assumed would exist forever.

Jackie

I agree that the Post should be registered under FARA. They rarely editorialize about what the U.S. needs. And frequently editorialize about what some other country would like us to do.

Phil Giraldi

Excellent commentary Colonel Lang. I read the same piece this morning and had the same reaction. When Erdogan had his encounter with Peres over the carnage in Gaza it was inevitable that we would soon be learning from our media that there is something wrong with Turkey. Sadly, for Fred Hiatt at the WP all US foreign policy revolves around Israel.

William R. Cumming

The decline of WAPO and the quality decline of its PUNDITs continues to exasperate me. Over 70% of all WAPO revenues come from KAPLAN, now with a profit making Univeristy [a contradiction in terms IMO] and price gouging anxious students trying to ratchet up everything from their SATs to LSATs, and GREs! Too bad since once a great newspaper. I always liked the Evening Star even when delivering both that newspaper and WAPO on same day one AM and one PM! Paid for first year of college with the revenue as paper boy. Notice how seldom you see a bio of their pundits or what orgs they belong to or religious affiliation?

N. M. Salamon

I try to read newspapers and magazines from around the world [unfortuately english only] and the only paper which is worse than WAPO is the National in Canada, importing all USA neocons and add the local pro-israeli op-eds, in it the well being of the avarage Canadian is hardly noted!

The Colonels analysis is very good on this issue!

mo

Political Islamists?

Are not all devout Muslims "political" by default? And therefore is the suggestion that a devout Muslim should not become involved in politics lest the US break an alliance?

Sharia law is the law of Islam and Muslims. I do not believe it is currently practiced properly in any Muslim country but having said that, if a political group wishes to establish Sharia and needs to disguise that intention, then it follows that the people do not want it.

But if we are talking about the Muslim world, I would beg to differ with the "retain power at all costs" label - Hamas, Hizballah, the Brotherhood and Turkey's the Justice and Development Party have all participated peacefully and legally in democratic elections and all have been on the receiving end of those actually wishing to retain power at all costs. Only in Iran can one actually point to "political Islamists" resorting to actions that can be described as retaining power at all costs.

Ben Ali, Bouteflika, Mubarak, the Assads, the various Royal families of the Gulf, Gaddafi, the Hashemites, Suharto, Saddam - All of the above have carried out acts of various despicable and criminal nature in order to retain power at all costs and all of the above are as far from being Islamist as it is for someone born a Muslim. It may be redundant to say so, but all are now or have once been allies of the US. Are these the leaders you would really prefer us to live under?

Patrick Lang

Mo

Whoa! "Political Islamist" is FB Ali's term. Go argue with him. I don't like anyone who wants to create a theocracy. If that includes you, so be it. pl

mo

No argument Colonel, just my belief that the the word political is redundant.

I don't want a theocracy anywhere and especially not where I live - Political leaders need to understand people more than religion. If that leader happens to be learned in religion, thats fine but that should never be the defining factor as it is in Iran - And Sharia or not, I think Islam and Muslims, historically speaking, are on our side in that.

I was merely pointing out that that its the non-Islamists that have proved themselves most eager to hold onto power at any costs in the Islamic world.

Jackie

Sir,
What about the Catholic heiracy in this country trying to influence the health care debate, or any debate in this country? I'm not trying to be imprudent, it is the faith of my birth, but hasn't been for a long time.

Sidney O. Smith III

The USG should be registered under FARA, as Americans are increasingly conned. For more info, see the Pentagon as well as DOJ, although I must confess the DC order of the COIF crowd on the taxpayers’ payroll has shown a little get up and go lately.

That’s COIF, by the way, not COIN,. Different consonants in play, although I think in Georgetown, there is a constant mix of the COIF and COIN crowds. (At least to me, Fran Townsend, former DOJ, comes across as someone who was saw herself as well-coifed, and…who knows… she probably was well-coined in her day too, no?)

Actually, it’s neo-COIF, neo-COIN, and neo-con, as in con the American people. May as well throw in the self-congratulatory Congress in the Georgetown con mix as well. But, at some point, Americans need to concede that they are responsible for this absurd connivance and conceit. Become less confused and take control. Start becoming a bit more conscious and, consequently, act with more conviction during these times of being increasingly conned.

Kunuri


It’ is ironic that the conceivers of the Greater Middle East Project, the neo-cons, have envisioned an Islamic Turkey, and now that Turkey is becoming rapidly Islamic and not fitting neatly into their template, another tenet of their ill guided ideology is proven to be established on entirely false premises.

Erdogan and AKP has succeeded in transforming Turkey and the society in general over the last eight years they have been in power, and for the worse, I am afraid. AKP has tapped into the pious and relatively poor, conservative provincial electorate in the right moment in history and was able to obtain single party government. But the gilded image is rapidly waning. AKP’s attempt to solidify its hold on power, and as feared, to pull Turkey away from West and into the Islamist world under the guise of “Democratisation” and “Zero problem” policy with her neighbours is now exposed. Turkey is the oldest institutional democracy which happens to have a 99% Muslim population, but hardly an “Islamic Republic” as Iran.

There has been large scale corruption, nepotism, censorship and intimidation of the press, intentional polarisation of the society along the lines of seculars and Muslims and worse of all, concentrated efforts to weaken the Army, which has over the most of the last century has acted as the safety valve in case Turkey is taken out of the path that Ataturk has laid out for her. The Turkish Army still is the most trusted institution in Turkey, despite several clumsy interventions in the past, however with wide popular support.

In this respect, all the allegations in WP article are accurate as the “image is rapidly darkening”. but not because of her anti-Israel policies or relations with Iran, but because of the undemocratic and manipulative populism AKP is using to consolidate its power and the clumsy way it is handling foreign policy. Erdogan’s criticism of Israel somehow turned into open anti-semitism in Turkey in the course of last year. The Turkish born Israeli ambassador last week has been stoned and protested in a northern town where he was invited to give a lecture in the local university. The non-islamic and secular majority is watching with due concern as the EU dream fades away, democratic institutions are weakened and Fethullah Gulen continues to infiltrate all levels government and justice system including the police forces. Indeed, it looks bleak at the moment.

On the upside, Turkey still has very strong Democratic institutions, die-hard seculars, a young and educated population and effective NGOs. Religious oriented, polarising ,anti West policies have been tried, and the danger is exposed. Turks are not happy, and will vote AKP out in the next legitimate election. AKP is not the only political entity in Turkey that can pursue an independent and constructive foreign policy in Middle East without following the neo-con line but not turning criticism into anti-Semitism, maintaining economic relationships with her non democratic neighbours, but not a accommodating them, and most important of all without sacrificing the dream of Ataturk for Turkey to take her place within the Western countries.

Mike

I do not favor any US alliances with political Islamists. They always seek to disguise their ultimate goals which are:

1- Establish a sharia law state.

2- Retain power at all costs

For Islamists all else is mere tactical maneuver.

It becomes important then, to have a clear definition of the term "political Islamist," and an idea of which major players the definition applies to, does it not?

Patrick Lang

Mike

I say again. This is FB Ali's distinction, that is the difference between "political" Islamists and "religious Islamists. He can explain it to you.

For me, Islam remains a seamless garment and I do not think there are Islamists who are not inherent adversaries of the West. pl

mo

Why is it that people with an obvious agenda, like Kunkuri, cannot remain logical?

Kunkuri, you are proud of Turkey's democracy but not so much when the "wrong" people are elected? You are proud of democracy but criticise Erdogan for weakening "the Army, which has over the most of the last century has acted as the safety valve in case Turkey is taken out of the path that Ataturk " - In other words, by staging a coup?

Is that the democracy you want? A democracy that follows the beliefs of one man, who lived a century ago, over the wishes of the people who live there today? A democracy where the army can stage a coup whenever that course is veered from?

And you think Erdogan is bad for Turkey?!

And your concern for the Israeli ambassador is touching. I prefer Erdogan's concern for the Palestinians myself.

YT

Re: "I try to read newspapers and magazines from around the world".

Salamon: You've obviously not read the s*** they publish in the c**k countries in my region. Utter bull**** propaganda pieces written by crony S.O.B.s. Bless the bastards 'coz they're bein' forced to it...

What's the euphemism, "politically correct"?

F5F5F5

One can argue that Islam is political in essence, as it is a religion but also a government and judicial system.

However to me political islam is wanting to impose a degree or all of islamic law into society. Moderate islam seeks to reach this goal progressively through democratic institutions. Radical islam seeks to reach this goal through violence.

In my book, moderate islam is an illusion as the sharia law will always supersede non-islamic law, or non-religious institutions, so the end result will still be a sharia state. And there is no turning back from a sharia state.

Kunuri

Re:mo.

I don't think you read my post carefully, surely as you have not read my posting pseudonym. It's Kunuri, not Kunkuri….

Your post lacks command and depth of basic facts about Turkey and bristles with so many biases, overt and latent, that an answer will be a waste of my time.

William R. Cumming

A good argument can be made that all religions are political systems. The US rejected that notion and religion n general in protecting the government against religion in the Constitution.
As to the Order of Coif, Sydney Smith in my time was the top 10% of each law schools graduating class. With 45% of all Law School grads never practicing law, perhaps the mix of Coif and COIN is irrestible. An ethically lawyer practicing law in my view has a tough go of it financially. Few clients care what the law allows but only want a signature with no fuss (really no rationale) allowing the client to do what he wants. Given financial pressures generally that is not hard to find a lawyer to signoff. The appeal of Jeffery Skilling of Enron is largey based on the defense that the lawyers and accountants signed off. Will be interesting to see what SCOTUS makes of that argument. Probably 5-4 that Skilling is right and goes free, IMO! President Bush also always found lawyers to sign off.

frank durkee

Perhaps it is time to reconsider Diederot's comment " that " humankind will never be free until the last lawyer is hung with the guts of the last priest { rabbi, minister, Imnan, guru etc ].
Any religious system expands to include the whole social fabric of any group, especialy when their is no real religious competition. Institutions and dogmas rise together.
the constitutional genius wass to require a secular government and allow religious competition.

curious

I wish people stop freaking out when it comes to religion in faraway places.

Islam/sharia/state. It's not at all that odd. For ages state and religion are intertwined. The UK for eg. still has state religion complete with elaborate church ceremony when it comes to legitimizing its monarchy. Or think small remote villages in Ireland or Italy where rural live still follows religious habit from several centuries ago. All great empire has a tightly coupled religion and state. Religion and state legitimise each other and fuel each other ambition.

The closest western analog to current state of islamic world form of government probably is Queen Isabel I de Castilla, Henry VIII of England. (Think how tightly religion was coupled to the empire. State is religion and religion is state. The laws are expression of that structure. Even Germany today has political party with names like CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union) And the state of germany often think of itself as the guardian of christiandom. This is a direct lineage to Carolingian empire.

In Islamic world cases: a) population density never reaches the level of 17th century europe where it can sustain constant warfares. b) Islamic holy text/sunnah is a minimalist text, so it leaves big wiggle room for subsequent people to fill the gap (hadith). And this gap/interpretation guide/rudimentary legal framework/basic conflict resolution were good enough to sustain and maintain Islamic empire, preventing large total annihilation war ala 30 years war. c) It was stable for centuries until colonial era begun with introduction of modern warfare and mass media. d) Islam has no central authority ala 'Pope'/Catholic church. It's more like perpetual early church that never reaches 13th century scholasticism.

So things that took 100-200 years in europe is hitting Islamic world hard in highly compressed time frame in second half of twentieth century. (hence the cliche blathering about Islam vs. modernity) Saudi for eg. at its core is a nomadic tribe covered with petro-dollar. It is nowhere near 21st century. Afghanistan political thought never really evolves beyond early 1900 when arm conflict turn worse and worse. Previously religious conflict in the Islamic world were never hit bad/intense enough to necessitate the development of state-religion separation. (simplistically the idea of seperating church duty to only about God vs. individual relationship and leave regulating individual to individual to state/democracy/laws)

The founding fathers obviously notice the big wreck that is 16-18 century religious war in europe.

Anyway, Islamic laws on war and peace are not equipped to deal with car bomb, mechanized war or nuclear devices. The war doctrine in it was written for horse back riding plus sword not thermonuclear exchange. It doesn't envision effect of mass media or capability of instant total annihilation capability in the hand of one or two persons in the name of God.

The good news, ignoring the quirky terminologies, Islamic jurisprudence (aka shariah law) at its core is pretty straight forward, it has a lot of similarities to common laws. Sooner or later somebody will declare the whole thing unworkable as general foundation of modern law.

ya can read hadith here to get the basic sense of the mess. (you'll be pretty much ahead of 80-90% of moslems in the world, since they are only allowed to read it in arabic. Think having to read all church documents in latin.)

www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/

mo

Colonel,
Maybe, inshAllah, when we can put a thousand years of Western enmity towards the Islamic world behind us, you will find "Islamists" who do not consider the West an adversary.

Sharia law, when practiced properly, benefited the Islamic world (and the world at large). It was under Islamic law that the finest Universities where teaching the men that went on to start the renaissance. It was to Islamic law that persecuted people (including the Jews of Europe) fled to when they were persecuted in the West.

Kunuri,
Hey but thanks for the debate. And good luck with the next election. But bye the bye, anyone who thinks that the neo-con dream was an Islamic Turkey shouldn't be spouting off about depths of basics facts.
But thanks for wasting your time with an answer...

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