Turkey self destructs
IT'S hard to watch an old pal hit the skids, making one disastrous decision after another, throwing away a brilliant future. That's the position we're in with Turkey - a former ally bent on self-destruction.What is happening to Turkey is what will happen to the world if we let the Muslim religious bigots win this war. Their paranoid vision is corrosive and ultimately fatal. In Turkey's case they have done it to themselves. Instead of their anti American non sense, imagine how much better off they and the world would be if they had let the US 4th ID use Turkey as a launch site for deposing Saddam. Turkey would have reaped the benefits of a generous and grateful US and Iraq would have been liberated quicker and the insurgent's based in the west of Iraq would have been destroyed on the way to Baghdad.
A NATO member ideally positioned to serve as a bridge between the West and the Middle East, Turkey's secular constitution and economic progress should have made it an example for other regional states to emulate. Instead, Turkey has been aping the blighted regimes of the Arab world:
* Exploiting the population's disgust with government corruption, Islamists gained power through the ballot box - and immediately started dismantling the secular legacy of Kemal Ataturk.
* On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Turkey stabbed the United States - its only dependable ally - in the back, denying passage to our troops in the fateful illusion that Ankara could save Saddam.
* Turkey strangled its (always faint) chance of membership in the European Union with internal repression, ludicrous prosecutions, farcical legislative efforts to Talibanize society and its stubborn denial of the Armenian genocide.
* Instead of winning Europe's approval, the government-sponsored anti-American hate speech poisoning Turkey's media only strengthens European convictions that Turks "aren't our kind."
* Impatient to send Turkish troops into Iraq to attack the PKK (a radical Kurdish group with a terrorist past), Ankara might face a startling military embarrassment, further alienate Washington - and finish off its last prayer of EU membership. (The Europeans just want excuses to keep Turkey out - and Turkey has a genius for providing them.)
* Despite the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship with Iraqi Kurdistan - where Turkish businessmen make substantial profits - the Ankara government obsesses about preventing the emergence of a Kurdish state. Betting on Iraq's Sunni Arabs (who despise the Turks but use them), Turkey has set itself up to lose big if Iraq dissolves.
* With its mischief-making in Iraq, cloak-and-dagger monkey business with Syria and failure to appreciate Iranian deviousness, Turkish foreign policy is in a self-destructive shambles unrivaled since the foundation of the modern Turkish state.
All of this leaves me in sorrow, since I spent decades arguing that Turkey's strategic importance required us to be patient as this land of enormous potential found its way to the future.
For an enthusiastic visitor to Turkey for three decades, it's been heartbreaking to watch its society and economy come to life - only to fall prey to Islamist vampires.
As for the spectacularly virulent and dishonest anti-Americanism in the Turkish media - we need never have a "Who lost Turkey?" debate: The Turks lost it for themselves. Instead of maturing into the Western culture of responsibility, Turks succumbed to the Arab world's culture of blame.