Hardly Turkish Delight

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

I thought (and wrote to that effect) that both the gratuitous and toothless Senate resolutions calling for the de facto trisection of Iraq, and condemnation of Turkey for the century-old Armenian holocaust were unnecessary barbs that would only inflame an already anti-American Turkey.

BUT we should confess that much of Turkish anti-Americanism is ill-founded and derives from their own ongoing fights between Islamists and Ataturk Secularists and has nothing to do with anything the United States has done. Recent polls 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.

A second point: by and large the United States has treated Turkey well. We support its entry into the E.U.; 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.

Again, nothing really justifies the elemental hatred that the present generation of Turkey seems to exhibit for America, or the perverted manifestations of anti-Semitism or things like 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).

Where does that leave us? I believe we need to cool the resolutions, continue to talk nicely to Turkey, send out diplomatic peace-feelers, assuage Turkish wounded pride, hope for the best, and start making immediate contingency plans for a possible dramatic break from this erstwhile critical NATO ally.

And that would mean backup plans should it become necessary to abandon facilities inside Turkey, and seek closer relations with Armenia, Kurdistan, Greece, Cyprus, and other regional neighbors. Perhaps both sides have been clumsy, but there are developments going on in Turkey that are far larger than inept diplomacy, and we should quit denying the danger, or despair that without the old Turkey we are adrift in the Eastern Mediterranean. We are not.

We should never promote such divides, but recognize the current course of Turkish politics is not necessary ahistorical, but may in fact be a natural reaction against the historical aberration of Ataturk’s secularism, as European Turkey begins to become 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.

©2007 Victor Davis Hanson

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