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The Not-So-Sick Man of Europe Does Matter

Posted on Nov 23, 2007
Turkish flag
AP photo / Murad Sezer

By Scott Ritter

(Page 3)

Then came the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974, the military coup of 1980 and the rise in Turkish-Kurdish violence throughout the 1980s.  The reality of Turkey’s status as a “bridge nation” between Europe and Asia, replete with all of the problems associated with the melding of two historically disparate and incompatible cultures, was exposed, together with Europe’s unwillingness to recognize the uniqueness of Turkey’s situation.  Negotiations between Europe and Turkey over customs union came to a halt and were revived only in 1986.  In 1987 Turkey applied for full EEC membership, an application which was endorsed by the European Council in terms of eligibility but not necessarily viability.  In 1995 Turkey seemed to make progress in its quest to become a formal member of the Western bloc when customs union was finally ratified, but two years later Turkey’s hopes were shattered when the European Union declined to offer candidate status.  Under pressure from the United States, this decision was reversed in 1999, and since that time there has been hesitant progress toward the dream of European Union membership for Turkey.

Turkey has made huge progress in terms of financial and legal reform.  Its parliament has passed sweeping legislation which more closely aligns it with the European Union in terms of legal structure and content.  But the reality is that historical, ethnic and cultural prejudices within Europe, combined with Turkey’s “bridge nation” status between East and West, make union with Europe a near impossibility.  One can see just how complex this situation is in how Turkey deals with issues along its borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.  Although a full-fledged member of NATO, Turkey excludes the operations of its forces in its eastern provinces from NATO command, control and oversight.  Turkey is, in reality, two nations within a nation.  One, looking toward the west, seeks union with Europe.  The other, looking toward the east, seeks stability in a region clouded by history, ethnic diversity and religious fanaticism.  Turkey’s status as a Muslim nation further complicates a union with Europe.  While the United States and some European nations, Britain in particular, support European Union status for Turkey on the grounds that this would provide a foundation of stable relations between the West and the Muslim world, many European nations, especially France, the Netherlands and Germany, oppose Turkey’s membership on the basis that Turkey and Europe are incompatible entities not given to comprehensive political, cultural and economic union.

At least the French are honest in their approach.  Europe, while labeling the Kurdish PKK as a terrorist group, is indifferent to the reality of PKK terrorism from the perspective of Turkey.  While remaining mute on its own complicity in controversial anti-terrorism practices of the United States (rendition, illegal confinement and torture) carried out on European soil and with the assistance and permission of many European governments, the EU continues to condemn Turkey for human rights violations, limitations on free speech, and other political problems arising from its decades-long struggle against PKK terrorism.  While every effort should be made to encourage Turkish conformity with the legal and moral practices set forth under international law, the hypocrisy of the European position is evident, especially to the people of Turkey, who have become jaded in recent years to the notion of union with Europe.  While some 66 percent of the Turkish population supported entry into the European Union a decade ago, today the number hovers around 40 percent.  This trend, if it holds, will make Turkish membership in Europe all but impossible.

The question, therefore, is what should be done about Turkey and the West?  There is no doubt that both the West (Europe and the United States) are best served by maintaining the closest possible ties with Turkey.  The problem is, does such a close relationship likewise benefit Turkey?  At a time when the United States Congress foolishly debates whether to apply the label of “genocide” to events (i.e., the Armenian tragedy of 1915) nearly a century past, and Europe blindly repeats the mistakes of recent history (i.e., its complicit support for the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003) by rubber-stamping U.S. policy objectives vis-à-vis Iran, it can come as no surprise that Turkey finds itself feeling left out of the West at a time when events in the East consume its political and economic energy.  The Turkish government’s recent call for the creation of a “Turkic Union” is but the most recent manifestation of a trend which has the Turkish sociopolitical-economic compass starting to swing away from Europe.

During the time of the Ottoman Empire, what is now known as Turkey was often referred to as “the sick man of Europe.”  Today, it seems, many in Europe and the United States act as if this status still stands.  But the fact is, Turkey today is neither sick nor European.  It is a pro-West Muslim nation which not only physically bridges east and west but also serves as the conduit for social, economic and political intercourse.  The key for the United States and Europe is not to keep trying to choose between forcing Turkey into becoming European and rejecting it for being too Asian, but rather to respect the progress Turkey has made in forging a Muslim nation with a secular government and democratic stability.  Turkey today, as a bridge nation, holds the key for the peaceful resolution of many current crises (Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran in particular), and most potential future crises involving East-West conflict.  Properly nurtured and managed, the West’s relationship with Turkey can be beneficial to all parties in the long term.

However, a bridge runs two ways, and if the West, in particular Europe, continues to approach its relationship with Turkey with the arrogance and indifference it displays today, and if the United States continues to pursue imperial policies in the Middle East which act to the detriment of Turkish interests, rest assured that this critical Western ally will drift away from Europe and firmly into the grasp of the East and radical Islamic fundamentalism.  This would be a disaster for both Turkey and the West.  At a time when the search for stability represents such an important part of the West’s foreign policy objectives, the lack of attention given to Turkey is astounding.  Far from being the modern incarnation of Europe’s “sick man,” modern Turkey is healthy and vibrant, and does matter.  We need to formulate and implement policies that reflect this reality before it is too late.


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By FFURKS, December 26, 2007 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

122619 by nevin on 12/26 at 2:01 pm

“...your little knowledge of history is embarrassing.”

Your little knowledge of to whom you are speeking is doubling me over. The Mexicans can have Texas, Florida, California, and any other part of the USA they wish. 

I have no dog in that hunt…..

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By nevin, December 26, 2007 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

you said: “What about the Greeks, the Kurds, the Ottomans, and the subjugation of the Arab world?  Seems the Turks can’t get along with anyone….” This statement is so childish and so far away from any type of history or world knowledge that it actually made me laugh out loud. Your ignorance is disturbing because it is very obvious you seem to think you know what you are talking about. smile

1- Let me quickly remind you that in the human history there has been many disputes or wars that occurred due to territory, power or resources. Europeans have killed each other brutally twice and as a result millions died. Now they have formed EU and seem to be getting along just fine. So these things are purely cyclical. The sad part is we human kind do not seem to learn from our mistakes. But that is beside the point!

2- The Kurds are NOT in conflict with Turkey or Turks as you stated. Yes there is a small group of Kurds who with the help of the US/Europe are heavily armed and are trying to carve out peace of Turkey for themselves. How would Americans feel if all of a sudden Mexicans wanted to carve out Texas for themselves? I am sure there would be an out cry, including you!

3- Greeks and the Armenians were an unfortunate tool of the Russians and the British to carve out land from sick and obviously ending Ottoman Empire. Unfortunate events have happened during that period, but if you arm yourself and fight for land, you better expect bloodshed and violence. No body has ever given up any part of their country without a fight.

4- Greeks are Turks are getting along just fine. Thank you. They share the same music, same food, similar culture and same big heart for love and forgiveness.

5- Good luck to the Kurds. I feel for them as they are obviously just another tool of the Empire (USA). US wants to control the oil rich Kurkuk and is using the Kurds for it’s means.

6- My heart sinks every-time I think about the Arabs. There is an obvious attack towards them on so many levels by the American Empire. Look at the state of the Iraqis and the Palestinians. Genocide is being committed every day in those lands. Let’s not forget the Afghanis and how they suffer every day. I hope you can at least see that?

7- I am totally bored and find myself bickering with someone who is biased and has so far shown nothing but borrowed knowledge from the messed up co-operate media. Your little knowledge of history is embarrassing.
Thank you and good night.! smile

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By FFURKS, December 26, 2007 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

122604 by nevin on 12/26 at 11:30 am

“Or will you hide behind your hatred and come up with further insults, which seem to come so easly to you and your kind.”

You have no idea of my “kind”. 

What about the Greeks, the Kurds, the Ottomans, and the subjugation of the Arab world?  Seems the Turks can’t get along with anyone….

AND without any hesitation ASALA was a bunch of thugs they were terrorists and should be treated as such, and right after the Turkish apology to the Armenians the Armenians should apologize to the Turks.  Of course as we both know apologies do no good at all, and my great grandchildren will still be fighting your great grandchildren for water rights.

What a world

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By nevin, December 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

This is my point exactly! the obsessive behavior comes out again! This article is not about the Armenian tragedy or genocide. This article is about the hypocrisy of the western countries towards Turkey…. please at least try to look beyond your obsessive hatred and READ the article properly. 

Since we are on the subject, will the Armenian diaspora ever admit their wrong doing by supporting the terrorist organization during the 70’s and 80’s called ASALA! will you say sorry to the Turks for that? Will you admit the pain and suffering caused by ASALA as wrong and should not have happened? Or will you hide behind your hatred and come up with further insults, which seem to come so easly to you and your kind.

No matter what the “USUAL suspects” say, it does not take away from the fact that this is a well balanced and well presented work. Thank you Scott Ritter for telling the truth as you see it.

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By FFURKS, December 26, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

122558 by nevin on 12/26 at 6:10 am


Pardon my cultural ignorance; I_L_L_E_G_A_L means something different in Turkey?

Civilized societies are governed by laws intended to prevent incidents such as the Armenian genocide (and the Genocide of the native people by the USA.) If individuals can’t obey laws, what kind of role models are we for our elected officials?

Genocide is genocide, and ignoring it, or denying it doesn’t make it go away…. BUT Turkey is not alone, there are hardly any societies among industrialized nations that have not committed genocide.

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By nevin, December 26, 2007 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

FFURKS: if you think it is wrong to help out poor illegal people then that tells me all I need to know about you. Again, twisting the truth! the issue is the poverty of the Armenian people in Armenia, not about my families morality or Turkey!!!!

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By FFURKS, December 26, 2007 at 6:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

122548 by nevin on 12/26 at 5:20 am

“Heck! my parents had 2 illegal domestic Armenian ladies working in their home already.”

This says all I need to know to make a personal assessment of the morality taught in your family.

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By nevin, December 26, 2007 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

As soon as there is any type of analysis or comments concerning Turkey, the usual suspects come out of their hiding wholes and start cursing, insulting and twisting the issue. (what ever that is!). Let’s talk about the big elephant in the room. The Great Big Armenian “Obsession”. Yes the Armenian diaspora is totally obsessed with the issue of “genoise”. In their churches, community centers, schools, the youth are fed with hate, revenge and anger towards the Turks. They pour millions into buying off the media, politicians and try their best to silence any type of decent or even discussion of any sort. It is can only be called an obsession! They do not seem to care about the actual country Armenia. Hundreds of illegal domestic workers are pouring into Turkey to make a little money and take back to their hungry families. Heck! my parents had 2 illegal domestic Armenian ladies working in their home already. They are not too fond of the diaspora for some reason…. wonder why? could it be that they want to eat first!

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By Rich, December 20, 2007 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


You spent time in Turkey witnessed gun touting nationals and seem to think Turkey is a bridge to the West?

They are invading Iraq with more occurance further destabliizing the region and you are a supporter of such a Government?

Turkey can not be trusted they fail to acknowledge mass killings of innocent people, and currently oppress it’s people.

This is Country is a poor example of a so called ally of the U.S.

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By Rog Conyer, November 30, 2007 at 10:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nils Cognizant’s posting of Chomsky’s excerpt was very apt indeed. While Clinton, Allbright, Cohen and Co.  waged war on Yugoslavia and hauled Milosevitch to the Hague for committing crimes against humanity, they uttered nary a word against Turkey’s scorched earth policy toward its own minority population—essentially aiding and abetting Turkey in the commission of large-scale atrocities.  Incidentally, the same William Cohen is now lobbying on behalf of Turkey and is busy propagating Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide (Scott Ritter euphemistically refers to it as the Armenian “tragedy”).

One cannot objectively analyze the current situation in Turkey without taking into account the malevolent malaise present in its sociopolitical landscape. The sad truth of the matter is that Turkish political elites have managed to construct one of the most ethnocentric societies of the world, a place where everything revolves around a proto fascist ethos and minority rights, tolerance toward other religions and alternative viewpoints are severely curtailed.

Whether out of ignorance or deliberate omission, Ritter glosses over those issues, essentially rendering his article into a piece of crude propaganda – something that could have been easily scribbled by the Turkish Foreign Ministry or the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Ritter may not be aware of it, but by joining the Turkey-should-be-indulged-at-any-price club, he is becoming a member of an establishment that counts amongst its bright stars such human rights and ethical conduct luminaries as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.

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By watch dog, November 28, 2007 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I thought this was a good web site until i noticed a post about the Kurds deserving their own homeland and how shameful it was how Congress and Bush denied Armeanian genocide to make the Turks happy like Iran denied the holocaust—- shame on you truth dig dot com informed me.

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By Conservative Yankee, November 28, 2007 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

116243 by Sean Maurice Hunt on 11/27 at 7:58 am
(Unregistered commenter)

I am sick of basic human behavior

Your post is thoughtful, considered and correct,


There is the problem of those canine teeth, and a history (as you note) that goes back before recorded time.

Eventually we will kill ourselves off and the animals (of which you speak) will breath a sigh of relief!

except my cat.

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By Sean Maurice Hunt, November 27, 2007 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am sick of basic human behavior like Ethnic blood feuds and border wars.  We may as well be ants.  I think it is hilarious when people think they are so separate and superior from the animal kingdom…It is obvious that everyone has their horror stories of terror and destruction.  The truth is that every little ethnic/DNA/cultural difference will be exaggerated and exploited for whatever that groups greedy and self serving interests and motives may be.  This is about resources, food, power, land,genetics (blood) and vendetta. It is in our souls and has been since the beginning of time.  The Kurds and the Turks…Cowboys and Indians…Protestants and Catholics…Jews and Arabs…Cats and Dogs…Cro-Magnon and Neandrathals. When you get down to it these narratives of violent destructive struggle have central themes of violence, destruction, vendetta, land grabs, ethnic cleansing, power and control.  Do the Kurds deserve autonomy; of course they do! Do the Native Americans deserve their land back and enforcement of lawfully written treaties with United States; of course they do!  Do the Irish deserve Northern Ireland back as part of their country; of course they do! Do the Palestinians deserve their land back that was given away by a foreign power to foreign Jews from Europe; of course they do! Do the aboriginal people of Australia deserve their lands returned to them that were stolen by the English; of course they do! It is a question of basic human compassion and fairness and everyone must accept that all sides have blood on their hands!  And to call one side terrorist is just plain human bias, silliness, and self deluding arrogance. War is terror! There is no war on terror; just more terror! We must strive for empathy, compassion, and reconciliation and put to rest our basic need to condemn others/groups that are in some way perceived different from ourselves. Keep in mind that it is a proven fact that we are about 98% genetically identical to chimpanzees; so knowing that fact we should always be examining our primal urges because in that part of our brain resides our inner chimp fear based survival brain and this basic fear based reasoning platform cannot be trusted and is in fact dangerous when combined with technology and power. We must expand our collective consciousness for a new understanding of our human family or we will be doomed to repeat our destructive cycles of terror and violence of the past/ present.

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By Ramzy, November 26, 2007 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a history lesson for those who type wihtout thinking or reading first: 1) Armenians were traitors to the Ottoman Empire; they assisted the early Soviets in spying on the Empire. They were traitors and received the death of traitors. 2) The Kurds were invited, with autonomous rule, to be a part of the newfound Turkish Republic. At first they accepted, but as usuall, they started to cause mischief and create problems to fuel their greed for a separate state. We Turks have a saying for the Kurds, “If you are going to play with fire, you are going to get burned.” They never heed this lesson. (Note: The Kurds have caused may problems throughout history, including much of the Islamic history as well. 3) The Turkish Republic should not be blamed for what happened under Ottoman Rule (just for sake of argument if you want to push the point that Armenias were masacred). 4) Even if the Kurds were given a chance to handle a state of their own, they would spinn into civil war because they lvoe to fight for know reasons. Stop hating on the Turks and Ottomans; for all u greek, armenian, and kurdish people who should get over the past grudges and make something for themselves. The hate is lame by the way.

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By Gine012, November 26, 2007 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

sry about the name…did not mean to do that…
and no I don’t know about them…and sry what happened to you but it still does not change the fact that people like me are not gonna forget what happened just like that.
It is nothing easy to forget about….
I respect your opinion and your thoughts…but you should respect others to…
you don’t know what those people went through so you can not understand it….
and I do not understand what you went through so I am not judging you

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By nevin, November 26, 2007 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

To Gine012: first of all… it’s not KEVIN, it’s NEVIN!. Ohhh please get over yourself and your mislay and puny hatred towards the Turks. I am a victim of the ASALA (Armenian terrorist group) attacks during the 80’s but do not hold a single grudge towards anyone…. I am sure you and most of your kind do not know about the ASALA… google and learn!!!!

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By cann4ing, November 26, 2007 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

One thing left unmentioned by Ritter is, as revealed by Democracy Now on 11/26, that Turkey was amongst the countries which facilitated the Bush regime’s extraordinary rendition flights.

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By Blackspeare, November 26, 2007 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

It should be mentioned that the Kurds are the longest living indigenous people in the world today that have never had an independent nation.  They have continually occupied the same area of land longer than the Hebrews and Palestinians combined.  Its only a matter of time before the Iraqi Kurds breakaway and declare their own nation——if not now, then when??!!

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By Gine012, November 26, 2007 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

To Kevin:
but you need to understand why the Armenians are getting more and more racist against the Turks…
Would you love a country and its people who have killed 1.5 million of your people?
Would you love a country like Turkey who still denies such event ever happened….and infect teach their students it was the opposite.
I do not accept the hatreds of the Armenians but I do understand why they hate the Turks so much…
its reasonable.
But if it comes to politics…thats a totally new subject…if you want your country to survive you must sometimes even trade (love) your enemy.
Political games must be played if it to be archived.

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By nevin, November 26, 2007 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

This was a well balanced and fair article. Well said about the Armenian issue and PKK, the terrorist organization. Also I commend Scott Ritter on pointing out the hypocrisy of the west, namely Europe and the US on making Turkey look like the villain but having done same and much worst historical abused towards weaker nations/communities themselves…
I would also like to point out how racist and abusive the Armenian community has become over the years towards the Turks. One can see from the atrocious comments being made above !!!! This sort of comments would not be tolerated towards the Jews or the African Americans and nor should it be!!!! Please reframe yourselves from RACIST comments in the future… Thank you.

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By Akira_Maritias, November 26, 2007 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

Turkey….pfft. We’re willing to forgive and forget about the Armenian genocide (yes, Bush, it’s a genocide) just to please this country.

I’m sorry…but I just find it difficult to accept an ally like that. Maybe in a few more years, when they apologize and congress stops being retarded and agrees that it’s a genocide…maybe I’d accept them.

Right now, Turkey can go sod off. I don’t like the idea of a smaller country dictating what America does to the point where we would completely ignore such an atrocity.

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By Gine012, November 25, 2007 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

to Drew Koche:
I can see an your comment that you have no clue what is really going on in the Middle East.
Let me start with this…
The Turks are from Mongolia, where by the Kurds lived in the Middle East for 10s of thousand years.
When the Ottoman Empire was defeated Atatutk (The farther of Turkey) asked the Kurds for help to create modern Turkey, in return the Kurds would get half of Turkey and its independence, which was the “SEVRER TREATY”. A Terrorist is someone that kills innocent for its own purposes, yes, but the Kurds have been tortured imprisoned for centuries long, that with the time you get tired of it and realize the only way to have peace is to have your own country.
It makes me made to see people like you commenting without knowing much.
If you comment you should know both sides of the story, but you, you just looked at Turkey and being a NATO ally and a candidate for EU (that will never happen) you choose their side.
There is a saying among the Kurds

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By RickinSF, November 25, 2007 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

I’ll go with #1.


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By nils cognizant, November 24, 2007 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RickinSF says:
” How am I to interpret this as anything but rank racism?” 

Well, Rick, you’ve got a few ways to look at this. 1)Maybe I am a racist or 2)maybe I’m not pleased about Turkish genocide against the Kurds or
3)you are perceptive enough to see that when I use the term “genetically-enhanced,” I am using simple sarcasm to wrap up my argument.

And not only that, your Irish relatives drink too much.

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By RickinSF, November 24, 2007 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

Nils cognizant:

“The Turks, in my view, are genetically-enhanced to render bad judgement.”

How am I to interpret this as anything but rank racism?

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By writeon, November 24, 2007 at 11:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve spent time in Turkey too. I really liked Turkey a lot. I like the food, the climate, nature and the people. But they are very nationalistic and proud. However, this is reasonably easy to understand. Once the Turkish Ottoman Empire was a great world power. Then for internal and external reasons it went into long, slow, decline. But the real castastrophe happened at the end of the 1914-18 war. The empire was cut to pieces by the British and the French. One could argue that the Turks paid the biggest price of all in lost territory of all those on the losing side.

Just how significant these loses where can be understood if one considers that prior to the first world war Turkey controlled the whole of Arabia. Just imagine if Turkey had lost Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf States; and all that oil and gas! Combine all that wealth and power with Turkey’s large population and one has a formidable world power second to none! I only mention this to illustrate how much Turkey lost, when the British and Frence, and then the United States took over their empire.

So culturally the Turks have seen themselves as victims of Western imperialism. Today in Turkey there is a growing undercurrent of scepticism relating to the West. Recently there have been two best selling novels, selling in millions, which were later made into films, which dealt with a war between Turkey and the United States! Now, it’s silly to read too much into this kind of thing, but, on the other hand it is indicative of a cultural shift in Turkey away from the West, or at the very least, a reaction against Western pressure on Turkey.

If we’re not careful we could risk “losing” Turkey as a Western ally. Turkey is increasingly seeing its national interest diverging from the West’s. The stresses and strains caused by the escalating conflict in the Middle East are undermining more and more countries.

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By Conservative Yankee, November 24, 2007 at 10:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

115414 by nils cognizant [2 of 2] on 11/24 at 2:25 am

“I’m a little baffled by Mr. Ritter in this piece. I most always follow his reasoning but here his seeming affinity for Turkish policies re Kurds (and maybe Greeks) appears misplaced. If Noam Chomsky, another reliable analyst, is to be believed, the Clinton Admin provided Turkey with convenient means to murder thousands of Kurds.”

Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush 1 also assisted in Kurdish genocide. supporting Iran, Iraq, Turkey, or all three in their efforts to “de-kurdify” the region.  It is a wonder to me that there are any Kurds left, And that any of them would be friends with the US is astounding!

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By Drew Koche, November 24, 2007 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a well written article.  Some people may refuse to understand that Turkey is the key to some of the main issues that we are discussing today.

As far as Kurdish dream of carving an independent state out of Turkey, it is hard to understand why people including Chomsky, do not understand that this is ‘terrorism’.  We could be talking about “Hispanic Terrorism” if they were trying to brake of Los Angeles or some southern states from the Union.  How are the Kurdish seperatists not terrorists, if they are killing soldiers, kidnapping people and burning villages?

Regardless, kurdish issue is much smaller given the importance of turkey and its policies today.  Between 200-300 million people speak Turkic languages in asia today.  Also, Turkey has strong historical and religious ties with all of Middle east.  Also, Turkey is a candidate for EU, has customs union with EU and a long time member of NATA.

But most importantly, Turkey is the only country that has a secular, modern and working democracy, strong economy and powerful relations with most neighbors, including Israel.  So tell me, arent we underestimating and undervaluing our Turkish allies?

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By CorkExaminer, November 24, 2007 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

nils cognizant: I don’t think Scott Ritter is giving Turky any kind of approval for the way she has dealt with Kurdish separatists. It is generally very unhelpful for people to get on their high horses and start telling people about their human rights abuses.  I am sure it is gratifying to the person wagging the finger but it usually makes the situation worse, believe me.

Noam Chomsky can do this!  His views about the US abuses of power are well known.  From that vantage point I think he is well placed to analyse other people’s behaviour.  No Turk knowing anything about Chomsky’s writings would be in any doubt that he is wagging his finger from the ground.

Scott’s main point was the hypocrisy.  As we now know, the British were quite happy to run execution squads in NI when it suited them in dealing with the IRA.  The NI political process started to happen when the various people inside and outside the situation stopped the grandstanding and started to engage constructively and sympathetically.  As Ritter says, precious little of this has been happening with Turkey.

The main point of the article is the dreadful damage we—yes we—are doing in the whole region, and to US and European relations with the rest of the world.  The damage is absolutely staggering and it is spreading wider and wider.

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By nils cognizant [2 of 2], November 24, 2007 at 3:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve posted an extended quote from Chomsky related to this matter. If interested, see post   “1 of 2” below.
I’m a little baffled by Mr. Ritter in this piece. I most always follow his reasoning but here his seeming affinity for Turkish policies re Kurds (and maybe Greeks) appears misplaced. If Noam Chomsky, another reliable analyst, is to be believed, the Clinton Admin provided Turkey with convenient means to murder thousands of Kurds. Ritter’s repeated use of the meaningless term “terrorist” in characterizing the militant Kurds was caught me by surprise.
SR states, “..This, combined with the majority of the Turkish people opposing participation in what was viewed as a completely immoral and unnecessary war, drove Turkey to stand against the American-led invasion of Iraq.” My understanding is that Turkey has been facilitating US military activities in Iraq since 2003.

Ritter mentions the ill-conceived Turkish hostilities against Cyprus. In fact, this was a (repeated) aggression against another vital buffer State in the region, our friends, the Greeks.

In the late 1950’s, the Turks accommodated us by permitting installation on their soil of the Jupiter IRBM nuclear ballistic missiles, aimed at nearby Russia. This stupid act on the part of both the US and Turkey led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the near-annihilation of us all.

From the author’s final paragraph:
“At a time when the search for stability represents such an important part of the West’s foreign policy objectives, the lack of attention given to Turkey is astounding.”  Mr. Ritter must be thinking ahead to the next Administration. The present one is engaged in no such search for stability.

Scott Ritter is probably the finest chronicler of current international affairs where strategic planning is concerned. This article, though, seems off-base to me. The Turks, in my view, are genetically-enhanced to render bad judgement.

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By nils cognizant [1 of 2], November 24, 2007 at 2:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excerpt from Noam Chomsky piece in Zmag [dot] org:

“We can often learn from systematic patterns, so let us tarry for a moment on the previous champion, Turkey. It has received substantial military aid from the origins of the Cold War, as a major US outpost. But arms deliveries began to increase sharply in 1984, with no Cold War connection at all. Rather, that was the year when Turkey began a large-scale counterinsurgency campaign in the largely Kurdish southeast. Arms deliveries peaked in 1997, exceeding the total from the entire period 1950-1983 (fiscal years), amounting to about 80% of Turkish military equipment, including heavy armaments (jet planes, tanks, etc). By 1999, Turkey had largely suppressed Kurdish resistance by terror and ethnic cleansing, leaving some 2-3 million refugees, 3500 villages destroyed (7 times Kosovo under NATO bombs), and tens of thousands killed. A huge flow of arms from the Clinton administration was no longer needed to accomplish these objectives.”

“Nevertheless, despite the great success achieved by some of the most extreme state terror of the 1990s, military operations continue while Kurdish citizens are still deprived of even minimal rights (again, a regime much harsher than Kosovo under Milosevic). On April 1, 10,000 Turkish troops began new ground sweeps in regions that had been devastated by the US-Turkish terror campaigns of the preceding years, also launching another offensive into northern Iraq to attack Kurdish guerrilla forces—in a no-fly zone where Kurds are protected by the US air force from the (temporarily) wrong oppressor. As these new campaigns were beginning, Secretary of Defense William Cohen addressed the American-Turkish Council, a festive occasion with much laughter and applause, according to the government report. He praised Turkey for taking part in the humanitarian bombing of Yugoslavia, apparently without embarrassment, and announced that Turkey had been invited to join in co-production of the new Joint Strike Aircraft, just as it has been co-producing the F-16s that it used to such good effect in approved varieties of ethnic cleansing and atrocities within its own territory, as a loyal member of NATO.”

Please see my second post above which references the Chomsky quote.

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