Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763
Turkey should be wary of its Franco-German friends
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The Foreign Office of Turkey has an official web page. Under "Frequently Asked Questions", readers can click on "Why did the Turkish parliament reject the motion to allow US troops into Turkey?"
Helpful answers are provided, such as "our public opinion is 94 per cent against a war" and "demeaning cartoons and articles in the US press got wide coverage in Turkey". Reason number three is that "the way negotiations regarding the military, political and economic packages were conducted was not helpful either". Which probably translates most accurately into: "The US didn't offer us enough baksheesh."
France and Germany hide their reasons for an anti-American stance under jargon about "international law" and "morality". The difference is a question of style rather than substance. As Byron put it, "I see not much difference between ourselves & the Turks, save that we have foreskins and they none, that they have long dresses and we short, and that we talk much and they little. In England the vices are whoring and drinking, in Turkey, sodomy and smoking."
But Turkey turned its back on the US for reasons that have to do with more than simple baksheesh. Though no Turkish politician will speak for the record, a number of media sources have published accounts of German and French threats that should Turkey side with America against Saddam, the doors of the European Union would be closed to it for ever.
Certified membership in Europe shimmers in the Turkish imagination like some wonderful Excalibur. They yearn to hold it and with each setback only strive harder. Long-suffering Turkey, which aided the West in the Gulf war and has been a stout member of Nato, gets treated like the school nerd by the EU: useful when you need help on exams but certainly not the sort you'd bring into your club
. Or, as Valery Giscard d'Estaing snobbily told Le Monde last November, people who backed Turkish membership in the EU were "the adversaries of Europe". Turkey was "not a European country". He was not entirely wrong. But by saying what he said, he ensures that he will be forever right. If Turkey is decreed not to be European and then its every attempt to integrate with Europe is blocked, the words can't be anything but a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Europe, though, is more than a postal code. No one could be more in its center than the Germans and yet, from 1933-45, they were not Europeans in any sense of the word. In significant ways, the French and Germans are not Europeans today either. They are less interested in some grand continental concept than in creating their own kingdom.
When Germany and France recently moved to dominate the EU by the creation of a Franco-German bloc of 140 million people, "with hints", as John O'Sullivan wrote, "that a full Franco-German federal union might follow" as well as other measures designed to reduce the power of smaller European countries, the trend was impossible to ignore.
The danger was always that Brussels would emerge as a big statist enterprise, and that the EU would take over where the Soviet Empire left off - without the gulag but all the more dangerous for being less blatant and brutal. The emerging outlines of this Frankish empire show minimally an entity that is in opposition to the free enterprise, liberal democratic values of America and the Atlantic alliance.
The war in Iraq has defined this entity even more sharply: it is a Franco-German alliance lined up against America and its allies. Moderate Turks might consider the irony of their situation. When the vote came over the stationing of American troops in Turkey, it was not the governing Islamic Justice and Development party (AKP) that voted against it. It was the Republican People's Party (CHP), which forms the only parliamentary opposition.
The CHP is heir to the secular, modernist tradition of Ataturk. This is the very tradition that has long seen that the problem with the Islamist world is that it is mired in medieval theocracy. The solution was to brutally wrench it away from its own traditions. Islam would be reduced to a mere religion instead of an all-encompassing ideology. But though Ataturk and his successors demonstrated an understanding of the need to render unto Caesar what was Caesar's, it was never clear that they understood the essential spirit of the modern liberal democracy they wanted to build.
In seeking to appease the Europe that France and Germany represent, by denying their American ally access for land-forces, it is clear that secular Turkish politicians haven't a clue about the essence of the West they hope to join. Nor do they understand that, by siding with Germany and France and hard-line elements of the AKP, they have made the world they wish to enter even less valuable.
For Turks who believed membership in the European Union would be a stamp of approval for their country as a functioning liberal democracy, it is a bitter irony. Should Germany and France ever deign to allow Turkey into the EU, it will only be when they have sufficiently proved their anti-American, anti-free market credentials.
When, last week, France's Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, found himself personally unable to choose a preferred victor between the United States and Saddam Hussein, one could see clearly the enormous enmity towards America.
This enmity, incidentally, does not seem rooted in anything logical. It seems to be more a generalized dislike of the Americans. There is a feeling that America is somehow engaged in a great conspiracy against the people of Europe; that there is a deliberate desire to dominate continental Europe culturally and economically, rather than that domination being an accidental consequence of America's superior economic and political systems. In order, it seems, to be an approved "member" of the West, Turkey must first assist the Franco-German alliance in acts that weaken it.
Perhaps the Turks have not yet realized that the "West" is best exemplified by the US and not the Franco-Germans. One of the principal conclusions that Saddam's regime may now be drawing, and that the French and the Germans seem not to grasp, is that while America may be history's most benign superpower, it is a dangerous adversary when roused.
Turkey would be better off to forget about the EU and join up with those countries of Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, the UK, some of Northern Europe and others in a trans-Atlantic alliance rather than a new Frankish empire. That same lesson needs to be learned by Tony Blair, who seems to think that when the war is over, he can embrace the French and Germans and go forward with Britain at the "heart" of the EU rather than as an embolism in its aorta.
Still, watching the heroic performance of Blair these
days, I'm shy about offering him any advice. By the
time his own Left-wingers are finished with him, Blair
may realize a lot of things. I'll stick to tutoring
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03/18/02: Blair's dilemma: This time he cannot be all things to all men