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A harlot's virginity in crisis

Reader comment on item: Crisis in Turkey

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Mar 3, 2010 at 17:54

I'd like to modestly draw attention to a few things which for some reasons I see in a different light from Dr. Pipes. He seems to be following the official Turkish version which must be treated with utmost mistrust and caution.

Dr. Pipes writes :

>since Atatürk founded the republic in 1923<

It's an anachronism. There was no Ataturk in 1923. The name appeared only 11 years later. It's a constant ahistorical Turkish usage to see Ataturk everywhere, particularly where there was no Ataturk. Dr. Pipes writes correctly that some Turks "hardly go an hour without hearing Atatürk's name invoked" but forgets to notice the disturbances of perception of reality and logical thinking necessarily resulting from this sort of obsession.

The person we had in 1923 was called Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a brand-new winner of the highest Islamic title in the Ottoman Empire , that of "Ghazi" – the successful defender of Allah and Islam! The title had been awarded to particularly distinguished jihadists like Osman I, Orkhan I and other sultans who managed to enslave large kafiri lands. It was this new Ghazi that stood behind all the intrigues, terror, blackmail and assassinations that led to abolishing the sultanate and later the caliphate and to establishing in lieu of them the republic.

The crucial thing is though that no official Turkish sources will tell us correctly how the confrontation between the caliph and the Ghazi came into being and why the Ghazi had to get rid of "the shadow of Allah on earth" in the first place. [ Later the then ex-Ghazi as the head of the Turkish Historical Society and the dictator did his best to re-write his own history.] And this is a fatal flaw in most accounts of Kemal's career and Turkey's recent history. On the other hand, the flaw is understandable and wished by the Turks since when things are clearly stated on that topic they refute the Turkish foundation myth with which today's Turkey stands and falls.

To make a long story short, Kemal , a faithful Moslem officer , had been sent by the caliph to Eastern Anatolia in May 1919 to implement the stipulations of the Mudros cease-fire treaty signed by the caliph with the Entente. Yet, Kemal acted against the will of the caliph and in due course was called back to Constantinople and as he refused to obey he got a death fatwa. A bloody civil war was unleashed by the caliph against him with promises of paradise for whomever would kill Kemal. As long as the caliph was in power, Kemal could never feel secure. Which ruler can survive in a fully Moslem country with a valid death fatwa issued against him by "the shadow of Allah on earth"?

The absurdity of the situation was though that Kemal himself started his movement as a full jihad in the name of Allah against the kafiri Entente (which eventually brought him his Ghazi title) while the "shadow of Allah on earth" declared him a kafir and encouraged every good Moslem to murder Kemal to earn Allah's and caliph's grace. Such vagaries are common to Turkish political life.

So , contrary to Kemalist hagiography there was no lofty idealism or brilliance in what Kemal did in 1923-1924 , but dire constraint and elementary struggle for survival. It was making a virtue of necessity. His was no idealistic or sentimental character, anyway. He was an opportunist and ingenious political fraudster. He won his jihad and his Ghazi title with the atheist Soviets' gold and military equipment and personnel. Lenin saved him from certain ruin in 1921-1922. Yet, it didn't prevent this opportunist to betray Lenin and join the "Western imperialists" to get what he wanted , cunningly blackmailing "the imperialists" to make more and more concessions for him for otherwise he would be forced to renew his alliance with the Soviets, and then who knows what might happen to the British and French Near Eastern possessions ?

The Americans hardly remember how expertly Kemal deceived them with his Chester concession hoax. Generally speaking, American amnesia is extremely useful for Kemalist Turkey. The Ghazi understood how greed, excited by eloquent promises of huge profits in Turkey of tomorrow, would invariably blind the Americans and make them even more forgetful and spineless . He used as his dupe agents the U.S. Rear US Navy Admiral William Colby Mitchell Chester (1844-1932) and his son Lieutenant Commander Arthur Tremaine Chester (1874- 1936) and their oil syndicate called "the Ottoman American Development Company" (OADC) and the Turco-American Corporation that had received from him options to build the future capital - the city of Ankara. And indeed, the concession was formally signed in April 1923. Ghazi Mustafa Kemal allowed the Ottoman-American Development Company " to construct and operate 2,700 miles of railroad, to exploit all mines and minerals found in a 25-mile zone along the right of way of this road, which, according to estimates made upon various surveys, cover:1) the famous Mosul and other oil fields, aggregating from 4,000,000,000 to 8,000,000,000 barrels potentially, or between one-sixth and one-tenth of the world's total oil resources. 2) Copper deposits comprising over 400,000,000 tons of rich ore.

3) About 500 gold, platinum, silver, manganese, iron, tin, zinc, salt, coal and other mines and deposits."

In exchange for that dreamt-of business opportunity the OADC and all its personnel and stock-holders were supposed to do the Ghazi one little favor – use their influence in America to support Turkey in Lausanne, spread the happy news about new Kemalist Turkey and courageously counter anti-Turkish "propaganda" and genocide charges. Admiral Chester fought bravely with a pen for his Turkish promised land. Among other things he wrote an article which was widely popularized by the New York Times in September 1922 accusing the Armenians of being the principal cause of the "troubles" in the Ottoman Empire. The Turks never had done what their "notorious" enemies accused them of having done. Also the recent Greek genocide never happened. Chester Jr. did his best too to promote the newly discovered "Turco-American friendship" and a business empire in sight. In the same year 1923 he published "A spirited defense of the Turks against charge of atrocities" in the "The New York Times". Many other interested persons followed with their defenses of Turkey's virtue and integrity. For whatever reasons, the old pro-Turkish hagiography in America seems to continue unabated.

As to the Ghazi he considered the Chester Concession as a purely political weapon. His agenda was quite different from what greed and ignorance of the Turkish realities made the Americans believe it would be. He managed to sow discord and suspicions among the avaricious Western Powers by playing off the US against Britain and France. Later in the same year (1923!) as he had the Lausanne Treaty in his pocket Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha, our future Ataturk , through the subservient and purged Grand Assembly had simply the whole American concession cancelled and forgotten ! He made up a cynical excuse to the effect the concession was rescinded unilaterally "owing to failure of the concessionaires to fulfill in the allotted time (!!!) certain conditions of the grant".

So this way the "American Imperialists" were simply fooled by Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha aka future Ataturk.

But this not withstanding Dr. Pipes –if I am not mistaken- quotes uncritically his Turkish sources and speaks of some mythical "Aaturk's legacy" he visibly approves of ! Well, if the above fraud and cynicism , isn't part of his legacy , then what is ? The Kemalist/Ataturkist legacy is historically speaking (I leave the Kemalist policy of genocide and genocide-denial aside ) first and foremost – skilful lying , opportunism , cynicism, old Ottoman policy of by playing off one greedy and ignorant power against another, betraying both his Western and Eastern allies to promote Turkey's own goals and without idealism being such an important ingredient as the article suggests. If one learns such things about this man Ghazi Mustafa Kemal , then one can well infer what can one expect from the fanatical imitators of the Ghazi or ex-Ghazi , depending which of his crooked ways they want to go.

Dr. Pipes writes also :

"Turkey's military has long been both the state's most trusted institution and the guarantor of Atatürk's legacy, especially his laicism."

This is also a strange statement if one looks behind it more closely. I have mentioned the real reasons why Kemal turned against the caliph and the whole system that made his mortal enemy - the caliph - so powerful, i.e. Islam. It was hardly any speical love of secularism.

But anyway, in his struggle against the old system in 1927 Ghazi Kemal abolished religious , i.e. Islamic, instruction in primary, secondary and high schools on the grounds (in their dissimulation resembling a bit the excuses made up for cancelling the Chester Concession) that there were also 'non-Moslems in Turkey', although it is exactly his policy of violent Turkification and expulsion that made Turkey inevitably purely Islamic.

Assuming that this is at last Ataturk's true legacy, what can we say about how its military guarantor was going about it ? In full dictatorial power after his successful coup d'état in 1980 this "guarantor of Ataturk's legacy" makes religious , i.e. Islamic , instruction obligatory in schools!!! Strange behaviour for the guarantor, isn't it?

But it's interesting not just to point to the notorious vagaries and absurdities of Turkey's history and political life but rather to see why they happen as there is method to this madness.

"Ataturk's legacy" since 1927 had produced a generation of Turks unaffected by Islamic brainwashing. They started calling a spade a spade and with their critical eyes they investigated the way Turkey was being ruled. They turned against the police state and its corrupt methods. They were leftists, liberals, socialists, trade union activists, intellectuals who were vocal in their criticism of daily injustices and power abuses. They sympathized with the struggle of the Kurds whom "Ataturk's legacy" deprived of everything including their identity and language.

Now to cope with this double internal Kurdish-leftist threat against his privileges and power , "the guarantor" needed a social and political force to rely on. He found it in Islam, in Islamic clergy, in the very backward elements that once upon a time brought Kemal's jihad to a successful end in 1922. But the alliance with Islam had to be mutually beneficial. The Kemalists suppressed the Kurdish rebellion, beat and jailed the leftists, but the Islamists got as a reward an education reform that essentially was the betrayal of "Atatürk's legacy, especially his laicism".

I stress this point again. Idealism plays no such an imprtant role in Turkish policy as the Turks so willingly make us believe. Kemal was a success only because he was a more skilful liar and more intelligent opportunist than his opponents. Today's guarantors of Kemalism are not so different from their anthropomorphic god. Both parties make use of slogans and ideas that sound and look good and serve just one purpose, namely hiding a deeper and quite non-idealistic issue – that of material privileges and power the Kemalists have been enjoying , including enormous budget allocations to the military, huge wages for the officers, generous pensions, free high quality health care and education system that stands in such a contrast to the miserable social services in Turkey. In my opinion it is what is at the core of the conflict and not the Manichean struggle between the good secularists and bad Islamists , as Dr. Pipes article seems to suggest.

AKP arose as a party with a promise that the resources reserved to the narrow Kemalist elite would be distributed more equally, i.e. the Kemalist elite would have to share them with the average Turk. If this conjecture is true, then Islam is not such an important issue in the conflict where down-to-earth interests and not lofty ideas are at stake. Hence Dr. Pipes' statement

"Thus has the AKP thrown down the gauntlet, leaving the military leadership basically with two unattractive options: (1) continue selectively to acquiesce to the AKP and hope that fair elections by 2011 will terminate and reverse this process; or (2) stage a coup d'état, risking voter backlash and increased Islamist electoral strength.allows for a third logical option. The so called "Islamists" and "Secularists" may strike a deal or a compromise on these terms : "Islamists", understanding that whether secularist or not , the army is badly needed in Turkey, will agree that the army keeps its privileges (which the army will not give up without a mutiny the country doesn't need) more or less undiminished. In exchange the "Secularists" who also also Moslems, understanding that Turkey is a purely almost 100% Moslem monoculture, will acquiesce in the fact that "Islamists" will rule the country according to the Islamic values confessed by Turkey's population.

As a further component of this compromise I envisage that having come to terms behind the closed doors the Islamo-Kemalist alliance may also agree to continue the farce of the "deadly" conflict between Islam and Secularism so as not to rouse suspicions and get some considerable material and propaganda profits from both the West [ 'If you don't help us with funds , bad Moslems will take over this country"] and the Islamic East [ "If you our Saudi brethren don't help your Turkish Moslem bothers with funds, these bad secularists will suppress Islam in Turkey."]. Such a theatre of absurdities and travesty would fit Turkey perfectly fine and is basically a core tradition of "Ataturk's legacy" and squares with the known Ottoman historical record as well.

>the AKP's blatant deceit and over-reaching <

came not only from bad AKP men's bad hearts. It is what they learned from their erstwhile Kemalist allies and opponents. The Kemalist military used generously the charges of conspiracy and overthrow of the constitution to intimidate and get rid of all opposition and stay in power. Now the roles have been changed and the victors of yesterday are being beaten with their own weapons. A typically Turkish show.

Dr. Pipes concludes :

"But if the military retains its independence, Atatürk's vision will remain alive in Turkey and offer Muslims worldwide an alternative to the Islamist juggernaut."

I don't share this view at all. "Ataturk's vision" is as tricky and flexible as Muhammed's vision. And I am sure that –if there is a real duel and not a mock duel afoot in Turkey- whatever party wins, Islam will stay and get strengthened in Turkey. After all, by all standards –except the official Turkish tale which is a most unreliable standard – Turkey is a purely Islamic country with its incredible 99,8% Islamization rate (according to the CIA Factbook), with its world-wide highest number of mosques per capita (1 per 350 persons!) , more imams than doctors and teachers , with its Friday prayer attendance rate higher than in Iran!

It seems to me on this background any talk about Turkish secularism sounds - if I may be use a metaphor for a moment - like a talk about virginity of a notorious harlot.


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