In The International Herald Tribune (NYT for fur’ners), Dan Bilefsky gives a good overview of one of the most popular authors in Turkey, and at they same time gives us a peak at how the Turkish people see themselves and their place in “Europe.” It is as good a place as any to pick on a book’s premise, and talk some about Europe and its future.
The year is 2010 and the European Union has rejected Turkey. Fascist governments have come to power in Germany, Austria and France and are inciting violence against resident Turks and Muslims. A vengeful Turkey joins forces with Russia and declares war against the EU. Turkish commandos besiege Berlin, obliterate Europe and take control of the Continent.First of all, let’s dismiss the Turkish Tom Clancy’s timeline: 2010 is too early. Maybe 2050. Fascist no, panicked nationalists responding to a violent, unassimilated threat to their withering-in-the-bedroom culture, perhaps.
Turkey and Russia? Don’t think so. Turkey controlling a continent? Well, maybe not if Europe will find its next King John Sobiesky or Don Juan of Austria when they need them. Anyway, Turkey needs an exponentially larger logistical ability and domestic arms industry of some depth to even think about it, not to mention French/British nukes. Heck, if they wanted to, about any Western European nation and Japan could build one if they needed to – if they had the political will. But that isn’t really that important, plenty of bad war-fiction out there. Let’s get to the social/political/cultural story his book tells.
… the novel, which dominates bookstore display windows in Istanbul, has sold more than 130,000 copies in just two months and is rising on best-seller lists across the country. … the novel's popularity reflects the growing wariness of Turks about a Europe that is increasingly wary of them.The feeling is quite mutual Johnny Turk. Wander around downtown Hamburg or Berlin some night. Europe it ain’t.
"Turks are getting fed up with the EU's constant demands - and 'The Third World War' has tapped into that," said Sinan Ulgen, a Turkish commentator. He noted that the book's pithy, cinematographic style has helped it resonate with taxi drivers, government officials and housewives alike.Ahhh, the pride thing. The Islamic “pride” thingy. Joy.
Turna is no fringe figure. His first novel, "Metal Firtina" ("Metal Storm"), became the fastest-selling book in the history of Turkey when it was published in December, a time of deep Turkish ambivalence about the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The book is a fictional account of a U.S. invasion of Turkey that provokes a Turkish agent to detonate a nuclear bomb in a park in Washington,
He says he wrote "The Third World War" - "Üçüncü Dünya Savasi" in Turkish - to give Turks an outlet for their wounded pride about the EU's constant snubbing.
"Turks are waking up to two facts," Turna said at a café near Istanbul's bustling Taksim Square, where he was greeted like a rock star by young fans. "One is that everything told to the Turkish people by EU leaders is lies. Two, that a Muslim country will never get into an EU that doesn't want us."
He says he began researching "The Third World War" by brushing up on 1,000 years of European history and concluded that Europe will inevitably reject Turkey and that the Continent will descend into chaos and war.Not in 2010, but not that far fetched if you go a few decades further down the timeline – history is full of unseen turns. Not a war I would think in the traditional way, but perhaps a civil war spreading from the significant Muslim minority that will be in Europe by 2050, being the majority in many areas. BTW, the “racist state” comment is a brave one coming from a Turk.
"Europe is based on a racist nation-state structure that has created world wars for the last 900 years,"
"Even if there are no guns, the EU's decision to turn its back on Turkey will create a cultural war between Islam and the West."My tabouli loving friend; there already is a culture war going on.
At a recent book signing event in Izmir, an Aegean port facing Greece, he began by asking the crowd of mostly 15- to 25-year-olds how many supported Turkey's joining the EU. Not a single hand was raised.Outside Istanbul and Ankara there is little European in body or soul in Turkey, and little love for the EU unless there is prospect to go there to make money or get a more flexible girlfriend.
He says this is a Turkish backlash against what he calls the "anti-Turkish mania" on the Continent.
Turna acknowledges that his propensity for satire and hyperbole often gets in the way of the facts.You could say that. Read the whole thing or the excerpts from the book for details.
Just as Europeans are ignorant about the real Turkey, Turna argues, Turks are ignorant about the real EU. He blames the Turkish media and the political establishment for portraying the EU as a panacea that will help make poor, agrarian Turkey flush with cash.There is a big hunk of truth in that.
"There is not a proper debate on Europe in Turkey," Turna said. "It has become taboo to criticize the EU. The Istanbul elite sell the EU, while the rural part of the country has little understanding of what joining the bloc really means."
"What matters for Turkey is being part of a process that has accelerated political and economic change," he said. "But the process is more important than the endgame, and no one will shed a tear if the EU doesn't let us in 10 to 15 years' time."Keep an eye on this guy.
Since "The Third World War" came out, Turna has been working on a soon-to-be-published philosophical treatise called "Sistema."
These days, he says, he spends a lot of time playing video games. His favorite? A game called the Rise of Nations in which countries compete for global domination. "I love to pretend that I'm China and to bomb Europe into the Stone Age," he says.Joy.
NB: I have worked with Turkish officers, have operated out of Turkey, and spent some amount of time there. If all of Turkey was represented by her officers and the folks you meet at bars, hotels, and restaurants in Istanbul or Ankara, that would be one thing. But you scratch under the surface of the Turkish nation, you get an Ottoman. Just ask the Kurds or Armenians or Cypriots ….