November 16, 2002
WHO'S THE SICK MAN?:LET TURKEY IN (The Leader, 11/16/02, The Spectator)
If Turkey cannot turn to Europe, in what direction can it turn? Those who crave acceptance but are continually refused it (especially when it is refused as disdainfully as M. Giscard d'Estaing refused it, in his own inimitable fashion) often turn into dangerous enemies. And Turkey is no tin-pot little country to be trifled with.
The victory of the Islamists in the recent elections is actually good news for several reasons. First, it demonstrates that Turkish democracy, though imperfect, is far from a complete sham. Thus, one of the justifications for Turcophobia - that it is undemocratic - has been shown to be false. Second, a period in government will reveal that Islamists do not have the answers to the problems of a complex and modern society. Third, since the Islamists will not wish to lose power in an immediate military coup, they will have to compromise with the guardians of Turkish secularism, the army: just as the army will have to compromise with them, given the scale of the Islamists? election victory. Let us remember that our own tradition of tolerance grew out of the sheer practical necessity for compromise, rather than from any superior wisdom arising from abstract reasoning.
If Turkey remains frustrated in its desire to join Europe, it will look eastwards. Pan-Turkism is one possibility, which risks the revival of conflict with Russia; a more extreme and frustrated form of Islam is another possibility. We should not forget that most Western European countries, especially Germany, have large Turkish populations; their disaffection at the rejection of their country of origin would be potentially dangerous. [...]
It is time to incorporate Turkey into Europe. If we do not do it soon - if Europe is to be forever a mirage that the Turks cannot reach - Turkey, with the fury of the spurned lover, will look elsewhere. We shall be turning an ally into an inveterate enemy; and it is unwise to assume that the relations of relative power that exist now will always exist in the future.
One is surprised somehow to find such good sense in The Spectator. Less surprising is the Europhilia on display here. Turkey's other option is, of course, to look further West--to America. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 16, 2002 2:07 PM