August 18, 2004


Talking Turkey: She's a democracy - no qualifiers (Michael Rubin, August 6, 2004, National Review)

On June 27, President George W. Bush stood before a crowd of journalists in Ankara and praised Turkey. "I appreciate so very much the example your country has set on how to be a Muslim country and at the same time a country which embraces democracy and rule of law and freedom," he said. Bush may have sought to praise his hosts, but his well-intentioned statement has had unintended consequences in Turkey.

Last month, I visited Turkey for a series of meetings with Turkish government and military officials, as well as prominent journalists and public intellectuals. "Why have you abandoned us?" one Turkish parliamentarian asked as we drank tea in his office. "You toss aside an 80-year tradition for an experiment in political Islam," he explained. He cited not only the president's statement, but also that of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Speaking in Ankara last April, Powell called Turkey a model for Iraq, "a Muslim democracy living in peace with its friends and neighbors." National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has made similar comments.

Nice words, infused with well-meaning Washington-style political correctness, but they raised hackles in Turkey. "We are a democracy. Islam has nothing to do with it," one professor said. "By calling us a Muslim democracy, Powell endorsed the [ruling] AKP [Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi]. If I called the United States a Christian democracy, what would that say to you?"

You know whereof you speak? But point taken.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 18, 2004 8:20 AM

February, 2003. Where did you stand, Ankara? Why do you think we don't remember? Why do you think we won't draw conclusions? Be glad we're still making nice.

Posted by: Mikey at August 18, 2004 10:44 AM

Good point - the Turks have been nuzzling up to the EU for the past 2 years, so let them have their fun. With 140,000 troops in Iraq, Incirklik is now yesterday's news.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 18, 2004 11:15 AM

The Islamic party gave majority support to helping us in Iraq, the secular parties were unanimously opposed to it. They need to learn to give in order to get.

Posted by: pj at August 18, 2004 12:08 PM
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