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Dellusions of Grandeur - A bit of humility may be warranted, dear Turkish friends

Reader comment on item: Ambitious Turkey

Submitted by Michel C. Zala (Switzerland), May 19, 2011 at 11:40

As some amongst the readers here know, I am a friend of Turkey. I travelled the country on several occasions and happen to admire the people, their attitude, their hospitality and warmth. I am amazed, whenever I visit Istanbul, a true bridge between cultures, western and eastern.

Having read most of the comments thus far however, I feel that the staunch supporters of Erdogan and his present direction of diplomacy and politcs urgently need some form of reality check.

Dear Friends, I hate to tell you this, but you are N O T a superpower and will not be for the foreseeable future. Ottoman history is N O T that great, but as opposed to scientific, technological, cultural and philosophical awakening, as demonstrated by western development, rather a history of invasion, bloodshed and criminal genocides.

Turkey at present is N O T an economical power, eventhough it enjoys admittedly a period of growth. It is sustained by millions of Dollars transferred by millions of Turks living as emigrants in western Europe. No offense, but if you travel the US or Europe, then visit Turkey, every normal tourist will immediately recognize, that Turkey is at best an emerging third world country. Standard of living, roads, houses, banks, power grids, city planning, civil liberties, law, law enforcement up to and not limited to the armed forces are nowhere near the standard of any continental European or north American level. While the progress is certainly positive, there is no justification of any dellusions of grandeur for sure.

I can also appreciate that Turkey is trying to straddeling the fence between East and West. A fragile balancing act for certain. The confused policies in response to the Arab Awakening (Libya, Syria, Iran etc.) are a logical and somewhat understandable result.

Islam and especially Islamism have proven to damage most nations it ever infected. Should the wall between church and state further erode, that little progress may well prove to be vanishing fast.

I've always maintained that Turkey has progressed too far on the democratic route for the direction to be reversed. Too many Turks (especially living abroad) have already been infected with the virus of Democracy and Freedom, thanks to Attaturk, truly a visionary politician in this regard.

Having said that, history has proven that all democracies during their at times painful development, at some point stood at a crossroads, where straddeling the fence is no longer possible and a nation has to take a stand. Turkey approaches this point quickly, where she must decide to stand with oppressors of the likes of Gadafi or Iran, or embrace the achievements and prosperity of western style governing systems.

Libya has demonstrated this clearly, where Turkey has by now, due to its hovering and hesitating approach, not much interms of support amongst the pro-democracy forces left. Should Gadafi be forced out, which I consider only a matter of time, many Libyans may not forget the Turks standing idly by, while he bombed Misrata to the ground.

It may take time, as the frame parameters (religion, culture, history, tradition, structure) are not prone to establishing functioning democracies throughout the middle east quickly, but I for one recognize, that the tides are turning throughout the region and the regimes of the likes of Iran, Syria, Yemen may eventually be a thing of the past. The last decades of oil influence are already upon us. The Sheiks and Sultans, mullahs and emirs are already doomed, and wide areas with Islamism as guiding force will devolve back to the middle ages fast.

Turkey, sitting smack in the middle of it all, will have to make a decision to either join the league of free nations full-heartedly or degenerate inside a quagmire of devolving Islamist middle eastern nations.

Dellusions of grandeur are not helpful. Humility and respect, combined with a strong sense of reality and the corresponding policies is, what I personally recommend. The past is the past. Let go of your inferiority complexes vs the West. We won, you lost, get over it, move on.

Ask yourself honestly - do you know of any Muslim nation which could be considered as even a medium economical, military, cultural power today? There isn't one single nation on the same level as for instance Spain or Australia. The world's eminent voices are all Christian, Buddhist or Hindu. What does that tell you? The little power projection muslim nations exercise today is solely based upon their oil resources. But that dependence decreases fast.

Taking a step back, every objective observer will have to admit, that there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam dominated culture, which stiffled at all times and periods any dissent, debate and its resulting achievements from politics to technology, science to philosophy. Just look at the middle east, the core of Islamist culture - one big giant mess of medieval nations imploding one after another.

Turkey has a chance to choose the right path and fight any tendencies towards the obviously emerging Islamism. It has a chance to be a muslim nation and still prosper, if it does not allow for creeping in of Islamism into politics and daily life. Just watch, what is happening in Iran, then go to your polls and vote your true conscience. If you love your country and want your families to prosper, if you want to continue to be able to vote freely on the path to true democracy (No--- you are not quite there yet- see Freedom of Speech and Press....) - prevent Islamism from silently creeping into your daily life... while you still can.

Yes... Turkey is at a crossroads. Time to take a stand and stand with the free world as opposed to holding on to outdated doctrine and dogmas. Post Gaddafi Libya you likely lost already as friend and ally, let alone business partner. If you continue on Erdogans path, further nations will eventually fall away.

Are old resentments against the west really worth it, or will Turkey make the step into the 21st century?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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