Monday, June 07, 2010

Watching Ataturk fade


The slow death of
Kemalism is been a sad thing to see - and something that still has a lot more time to work out, but the trend is there.

Shame. I have always admired Kemal Ataturk; not in a quasi-religious way many in Turkey do - no. I always looked at him as a pivotal character - someone who identified the core problem in his society and acted on a chance to fix it. He knew that for the Turkish people to prosper they had to look West and not East. Secular - and not religious. Say what you want - but he was a great man in the best sense. Judge a man by his times.

Sure, Kemalism was never perfectly formed - but he did amazing things with the ruins of the Ottoman Empire considering what he had to work with. That path, I believe, is close to an end. I think Turkey as we know it is at the beginning of the end.

How did it get here? Well, I think a first significant push was the rebuff to joining the European Union. The EU states slow rolled it as long as possible stating in the '90s - but in the last two years it has become very clear that Turkey would not join the EU. That, more than anything, caused a re-think among many. Look at it from their end; if the West does not want us, where do we go?

What sealed the deal from the EU POV was the election in 2002 and re-election in 2007 of
Erdo─čan and his party. If you need to, research him more if you need to from his time in Saudi Arabia, his jail time, his wife - but he is not a secularist with Western leanings. Full stop. He is an Islamists - in a "boil-the-frog" way.

The Praetorian Guard of Kemalism had always been the Turkish military. Almost to a man, they were secularists as most Westerners are. At their best - they would go to the Mosque when needed, but would join you with a beer anytime. Very modern - as modern as Greeks and Bulgarians are modern to the American eye .. perhaps even more. That too started to change a bit this decade. I think the death of the Praetorian Guard can be marked this FEB when scores of
Turkish General Officers were arrested. If anyone expected Turkey's secular tradition to be saved by the military - well - the core of that was ripped out. Don't rely on it.

Another hint to the Turkish descent into Ottomanism is the Gaza blockade story that is
still developing. Where does this head? I don't know - but the trend is clear.

The bias toward Islamism, demographics, and a wounded pride from the EU rejection is a head wind hard to fight. If/when this comes to a head, the Europeans will have the largest problem. The EU already has a large ethinic Turk population. If Turkey continues down the Islamist path - the educated and Western minded Turks will start leaving in droves. If the military won't stop the slide, I doubt they will want to stay; I wouldn't. Too many other options. Some will come to the USA - but most will go to Europe. Turkey isn't Albania - there are well over 70-million Turks. Different math - different numbers - different history. Lots of second and third order effects that are simply unknown.

I noticed recently that there is a little of the "
Who lost Turkey" going on in the domestic USA political background, but I'm not going there. Turkey isn't ours to lose.

Who is losing Turkey? Well, the Turks are. They are losing out to the Ottomans. What will be the result if the Turks lose Kemalism? Economic decline, retrograde cultural decay, and as Islamism always does - bloodshed.

For the educated among them - I would offer up the experience of
Iranians in the USA. Bring us your Doctors, CPAs, and business men. Send your huddled masses yearning for Jihad, however, to Europe. It is safer for them there.

A couple of other reads worth your time; Victor Davis Hanson and Mark Steyn.

24 comments:

Outlaw Mike said...

<span>'I think a first significant push was the rebuff to joining the European Union. The EU states slow rolled it as long as possible stating in the '90s - but in the last two years it has become very clear that Turkey would not join the EU.'</span>
<span></span>
<span>And we were GODDAM RIGHT to do so. Islam is like HIV. You may look healthy, but the virus is there lurking. Turkey only looked okay because, as you yourself indicate, the kemalist Army botched attempt after attempt of the islamic radicals to take over.</span>
<span></span>
<span>You think Erdogan & Co is a recent phenomenon? Not so much. Before Erdogan there was Bulent Ecevit, and before him others.</span>
<span></span>
<span>How utterly sad it is to note that anno 2010, with the news FULL of shit emanating from the muslim world, there are now actually MORE lunatics in the EU leadership to let the Turks in than there were fifteen years ago. The talks are going on CDR, and unless the lunatics are stopped, Turkey may still get in.</span>
<span></span>
<span>I try to see the silver lining. Erdogan is so foolish as to reveal his true face these days - or perhaps he's become so confident he doesn't care anymore - that sufficient euro leaders will finally become aware of the insanity of letting Iran v2.0 in.</span>

cdrsalamander said...

Sometimes you make your own luck.  Turkey just made theirs.  They will never be let in the EU - and their PM just make that underline/bold <span>NEVER</span>.

ewok40k said...

Kemal did to the Turkey pretty much the same Pilsudski to the Poland in the same period - created a nation., in case of Turkey from ashes of defeated Empire, in case of Poland resurrected from the death of Empires that carved up the old Poland. It is sad to see demise of secular Turkey, it was great tourist destination for Mediterranean vacations...

DeltaBravo said...

As usual, a thoughtful piece, Phib.  I don't suppose Turkey has any more Turgut Ozals in waiting.  Sad that.

TBR said...

Erdogan has skillfully used the formal requirements communicated in the EU membership process to gradually weaken the influence of the Kemalist military. The direction to make Turkey a more "democratic" state actually meant that the laizist circles, whose power always rested more in their control of the states institutions and not in a democratic madate of the majority, lost their powers piece by piece´. Every Turkish legislation that ostensibly added to the preparation of Turkeys EU membership in truth chipped away another piece of Kemalism.

MR T's Haircut said...

So it should serve as a warning that one Islam Pro-Iranian PM cant undo 80 years of secularism...

Turkey was useful.  Now she is a liability.  Time to cut the string.

lasik said...

Sadly, Europe sees the rising tide of Islamism and has decided this means they need to be weak and appease their angry neighbors and fellow citizens who support this Islamic madness. European leaders look at the demogrpahics and willingness to use violence and have decided to bow to the inevitable. Not all. I applaud France's banning of the burka. But England's increasing use of Sharia law for English citizens is a perfect example.

Europe will benefit by absorbing Tukey's secular elite, but the long-term costs will outweigh them. Islam is a poison.  The paranoid ravings of a 7th century warlord (and child-rapist) are simply incompatible with modern society.

hajo-hi said...

"<span>How did it get here? Well, I think a first significant push was the rebuff to joining the European Union. The EU states slow rolled it as long as possible stating in the '90s - but in the last two years it has become very clear that Turkey would not join the EU. That, more than anything, caused a re-think among many. Look at it from their end; if the West does not want us, where do we go?</span>"

I am afraid you are reinterpreting the past from today, or should I say 9-11. European elites in the seventies and eighties viewed religion as something that was done. Everybody thought that the world would go more secular, more liberal, more socialist. Sure they did not want Turkey in, but not because of Islam - a thing of the past in an early seventies mindset - but because inclusion of poor, argraian Turkey and would have been the end of any Eurpean welfare-state, either by support for internal migration or cross-country payments.

On a hindsight, what muslim youth is more devoted to islam and anti-western: the immigrant youth in London and Sheffield or Mullah's sons and daughters in Teheran? On one hand, I don't think Turkey would be more open to western ideals if it was in the EU, probably it would even be more estranged. On the other hand, the wheel keeps turning, even in Turkey.

DeltaBravo said...

Well, Turkey may have the last laugh if the Nabucco Pipeline ever is finished.  Imagine a Europe dependent upon either Russia or Turkey for turning off the natural gas spigot as its needs almost double in the next 5 years.

Nobody puts baby in a corner! 

It should be interesting.  Iran also is courting Turkey for lots of reasons and Turkey is happy to dance with the people who ask.  ;)   We live in interesting times... 

ewok40k said...

Poland has turned out to have surprisingly large shale gas resources, with US companies flocking to search - which might mean no outside import is necessary at all... That wouyld be great and best rebuff to Putin&co.

DeltaBravo said...

I hope someday Europe is forced to eat Poland's dust. 

Saturn5 said...

<span>Dear Sal,</span>
<span> </span>
<span>You have captured the dilemma of the modern secularist elite of </span><span>Turkey</span><span> very well. They are in a purgatory. Yes since election of the current government </span><span>Turkey</span><span> is appearing more more Islamic than ever. The option of the secular army taking the rains of the country is an irresistible easy and simple solution to that problem. Many intellectuals seem to fall in this trap both abroad and in country. </span>
<span> </span>
<span>As you see every time the army tired to intervene in the politics and took the helm of the nation there was a backlash. Every time the secular army put it self in the government, the Islamist core gained more power. So whatever solution we must find must be found in a democratic way. </span>We will see whether <span>the </span>seeds of Ataturk sown upon this land in form of Kemalism have<span> </span>taken enough root to prevent further landslide. <span></span>
<span> </span>
<span> </span>
<span>For you it is more or less an academic subject, a play of mind about the problems of a distant country. For me it is my survival and my future.</span>

Saturn5 said...

<span>Dear Sal,</span>
<span> </span>
<span>You have captured the dilemma of the modern secularist elite of </span><span>Turkey</span><span> very well. They are in a purgatory. Yes since election of the current government </span><span>Turkey</span><span> is appearing more more Islamic than ever. The option of the secular army taking the rains of the country is an irresistible easy and simple solution to that problem. Many intellectuals seem to fall in this trap both abroad and in country. </span>
<span> </span>
<span>As you see every time the army tired to intervene in the politics and took the helm of the nation there was a backlash. Every time the secular army put it self in the government, the Islamist core gained more power. So whatever solution we must find must be found in a democratic way. </span>We will see whether <span>the </span>seeds of Ataturk sown upon this land in form of Kemalism have<span> </span>taken enough root to prevent further landslide. <span></span>
<span> </span>
<span> </span>
<span>For you it is more or less an academic subject, a play of mind about the problems of a distant country. For me it is my survival and my future.</span>

DreamLiner said...

It certainly is a sad thing to see Turkey willingly letting go of the founding principles from the Ataturk legacy. I hope it's not too late, but hoping and seeing the reality are two different things...

Byron said...

You have my sympathies, Saturn. Let's hope cooler heads prevail in your land and you don't return to the Dark Ages.

Outlaw Mike said...

DeltaBravo, forgive me for sounding like a know-it-all...

... but precisely Turgut Ozal was the one who reinstated the custom of Turkish leaders going to the hajj. PRECISELY HIM.

Some fifteen years ago, Turkey had a female PM. Tansu Ciller was her name. She was an, uh, gorgeous woman. Western education (Yale). Unveiled, a fashionista. Not for nothing one header of the popular newspaper Hurriyet boasted that "Turkey has the most beautiful PM in the world". UNTHINKABLE now.

CDR, I want to apologize for a factual error.

I wrote in my first post that before Erdogan, there was Bulent Ecevit.

I am sorry. He was a secular strongman.

Erdogan's chief extremist predecessor was in fact Necmettin Erbakan.

Anonymous said...

While the rejection from the EU is a blow to Turkey it might not be unconditionally damning. The EU in and of itself is on the verge of going bankrupt and disbanding. Adding Turkey before the pipeline is done would be economically unsound. Adding them after the pipeline is complete would allow the EU to reap all the benefits with none of the costs.

virgil xenophon said...

I wonder how long we'll be allowed to operate out of Incirlik and when our basing agreement ends. My Squadron was at Wheelus the night the good Colonel kicked us out of Tripoli (still have the key to the VOQ/BOQ as a souvenir--I guess I should have kept the one to the VOQ at Incirlik as well..) Wonder if it wll be a middle-of-the night thing like Wheelus or a staged phase-out. Either way, it's sure to crimp our style. Dollars to dough-nuts operating restrictions are not far away...

Skippy-san said...

I think the idea of "who lost Turkey" is a litttle bit of an over-reach. What has happened is that the Turks-like everyone else have looked at the new world and decided to move on in a different direction. The slap in the face they took from the EU is one part of that-but more importantly is the fact that the world is becoming multi-polar.

One could make the case that Islamic fervor in Turkey as elsewhere recieved an artifical boost when the US invaded Iraq and put the Turks in the position of having to say "no".  Just another side benefit of the war without end...........

Anonymous said...

<span>So George Bush lost us Turkey?  Wow.  Anything else you want to hang on him?  Al and Tipper Gore, the BP oil spill?   
 
Turkey began to be eroded when radicals (under the guise of the Red Crescent) entered the rural areas in the wake of the Izmit earthquake in 1999.  When those elements began rebuilding mosques and schools, they did so in order to install radical Wahabist Imams and teachers in rural areas that were previously not affected by Islamic radicalism.   
 
Even more poured in after the 2003 quake, with an even more aggressive agenda, but by then the ground was fertile and there was little to be done.  After 2003, the movement went so far as to tear down mosques not sufficiently fumdamentalist, and replace them with more "acceptable" architecture and, of course, more anti-western, anti-secular radical Wahabist Imams.   
 
The tunring of Turkey represents the fruit of those efforts over more than a decade, as well as the lack of a counter on the part of the Clinton Administration at the outset, resulting in the radicalizing of one of the major pro-Western Middle Eastern countries.   
 
We watched it happen.  If we wonder where the "new Turkey" was born, Izmit is the place to look</span>

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Dunno how I got to be "guest".  But fear not.  There is not another gentleman out there unfortunate enough to resemble me.

DeltaBravo said...

Apparently Al's daughter Karenna is heading for splitsville with her husband too.  That horrible Bush/Cheney... they don't quit!  Oh, the humanity!  When will their reign of terror end???

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