Sunday, June 6, 2010

Who Lost Turkey?

This week has witnessed an earthquake in international relations as Turkey has come into the open as being on the side of Iran and Hamas in trying to open the naval blockade of Gaza so Hamas can be armed. A NATO member is threatening to go to war with Israel. How did this happen? Turkey has been a staunch ally of the US and Israel and something radical has changed. How and why?

Mark Steyn discusses this issue in a recent column in National Review entitled "Israel, Turkey and the End of Stability." It all comes down to demographics plus the spread of radical Islamofascist ideology by Saudi oil money. Speaking of the recent flotilla flap, he writes:
Much of what went on — the dissembling of the Palestinian propagandists, the hysteria of the U.N. and the Euro-ninnies — was just business as usual. But what was most striking was the behavior of the Turks. In the wake of the Israeli raid, Ankara promised to provide Turkish naval protection for the next “aid” convoy to Gaza. This would be, in effect, an act of war — more to the point, an act of war by a NATO member against the State of Israel.

Ten years ago, Turkey’s behavior would have been unthinkable. Ankara was Israel’s best friend in a region where every other neighbor wishes, to one degree or another, the Jewish state’s destruction. Even when Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP was elected to power eight years ago, the experts assured us there was no need to worry. I remember sitting in a plush bar late one night with a former Turkish foreign minister, who told me, in between passing round the cigars and chugging back the Scotch, that, yes, the new crowd weren’t quite so convivial in the wee small hours but, other than that, they knew where their interests lay. Like many Turkish movers and shakers of his generation, my drinking companion loved the Israelis. “They’re tough hombres,” he said admiringly. “You have to be in this part of the world.” If you had suggested to him that in six years’ time the Turkish prime minister would be telling the Israeli president to his face that “I know well how you kill children on beaches,” he would have dismissed it as a fantasy concoction for some alternative universe.

Yet it happened. Erdogan said those words to Shimon Peres at Davos last year and then flounced off stage. . . .

As the think-tankers like to say: “Who lost Turkey?” In a nutshell: Kemal Ataturk. Since he founded post-Ottoman Turkey in his own image nearly nine decades ago, the population has increased from 14 million to over 70 million. But that five-fold increase is not evenly distributed. The short version of Turkish demographics in the 20th century is that Rumelian Turkey — i.e., western, European, secular, Kemalist Turkey — has been outbred by Anatolian Turkey — i.e., eastern, rural, traditionalist, Islamic Turkey. Ataturk and most of his supporters were from Rumelia, and they imposed the modern Turkish republic on a reluctant Anatolia, where Ataturk’s distinction between the state and Islam was never accepted. Now they don’t have to accept it. The swelling population has spilled out of its rural hinterland and into the once solidly Kemalist cities.

Do you ever use the expression “young Turks”? I heard it applied to the starry-eyed ideologues around Obama the other day. The phrase comes from the original young Turks, the youthful activists agitating for reform in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire. The very words acknowledge the link between political and demographic energy. Today, the “young Turks” are old Turks: The heirs to the Kemalist reformers who gave women the vote before Britain did are a population in demographic decline. There will be fewer of them in every election. Today’s young Turks are men who think as Erdogan does. That doesn’t mean Turkey is Iran or Waziristan or Saudi Arabia, but it does mean that the country’s leadership is in favor of more or less conventional Islamic imperialism. As Erdogan’s most famous sound bite puts it: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.”
Read the rest here.

This is how the world changes. Demographics alone is never a sufficient explanation for social and political change, but population growth creates a bubble of a large number of young people who naturally are searching for meaning and a purpose. Combine population growth with a radical ideology that seems to be ascendant and the potential is there for a revolution.

Turkey looks around the world and sees the rise of the worldwide Caliphate as the future, so it wants in on the ground floor. This is a bet on American/Western decline. Turkey believes Israel has no future and neither does America. Do we realize that the Muslim world increasingly believes that the West is in decline? Pooh-pooh it all you like; the placing of such a bet by a nation of 70 million is disconcerting for anyone with a realistic respect for how the hinges of history can swing in unexpected directions.

The actions of Turkey have made a major war in the Middle East more likely than it has been for decades and the Western liberal "peace activists" are pushing the region toward war as well. If Israel cannot prevent Iran from supplying missiles to Hamas and to Hizbollah in southern Lebanon, it may well soon face a two-front war for survival. The two-state solution is dying a slow death as the world community, (and really this means the US for the UN is little more than a debating club for dictators), refuses to guarantee Israeli security. Israel will only withdraw from the West Bank if there is a way for it to control the Eastern border with Jordon to ensure that arms do not flood into the West Bank, especially missiles against which Israel cannot defend itself.

So if the "world" (meaning Iran, Turkey, Syria, Hizbollah, Hamas and their Western liberal allies) insists on breaking the blockade, what chance is there that the trust necessary for a West Bank withdrawal will be viable? None. Zero. Nada.

The Obama administration either does not understand that the Islamist goal is the complete destruction of the Jewish state and a second holocaust or it does. If the former then it is incompetent and stupid; if the latter it is complicit. Obama is the Neville Chamberlain of our day. Hopefully, he is just naive. God help us all if he understands what he is doing and means to do it.

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