THE SPINE JULY 28, 2010
On Wednesday, The Independent announced that "Cameron uses Turkish visit to launch ferocious attack on Israel." The Guardian reports that he "likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a 'prison camp'." Having just been to Washington, was Cameron doing a transmission job for Barack Obama? Probably not. This missive about Israel is surely not the one that Obama really wants to transmit now. After all, he did learn something from Bibi Netanyahu's journey to the White House; and what he learned was that the Palestinians aren't exactly ready to negotiate with anyone...unless the outcome is settled in advance and gives them everything. Even George Mitchell cannot now believe otherwise. I suspect that Cameron was freelancing on this one.
But I'm not sure that Cameron was working the Turkish street on his own in telling an Ankara audience that he was desperate for the European Union to take them in. For some inexplicable reason, Obama shares his enthusiasm and has since he spent fully three days in Turkey on his first presidential journey abroad. Of course, this is not how the rest of Europe feels. In fact, much of Europe believes that there is more than enough Islam in its body politic. Yes, some of this is racist politics. But the great groundswell is in the liberal and tolerant conservative traditions. The more Muslims in the society the more reactionary the curbs on freedom will be: personal freedoms, community freedoms, intellectual freedoms. The more Muslims in the society the more democratic values will be on the ropes.
The fact is that Turkish membership in the E.U. would be tantamount to European approval and support for the values of Turkish society. It once was that Turkey was in dissent from Islamic orthodoxies. This and its antagonism to the Soviet Union--or the antagonism of the Soviet Union to it--were credentials enough for membership in NATO, a membership it has held for half a century. But Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan today represents an altogether different constellation of philosophical values and strategic commitments. Erdogan is not shy about these values or commitments. He has made himself Ahmadinejad's emissary to the world. This is a shameful role for any political leader. As is his deputization of self to Hamas and the Syrian dictatorship.
At the core of Erdogan's redeployment of his country on the map of contemporary politics lies his shift from being a pragmatic ally of Israel to being an eager comrade of virtually all the madmen of Islam. This is of some significance to Israel. But it is more salient to the western democracies of which most important are the U.S. and the U.K. whose troops are fighting an almost unmapped battle in Afghanistan. Roughly 1,500 Turkish troops are also deployed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. This is emblematic of a two-faced policy, one descending, the other in the ascendancy. It also mirrors the intelligence conundrum. Turkey receives secret information from the Americans and the Brits. It also shares this with its Muslim allies, including elements among the Taliban and the intrinsically fissiparous officer corps in Pakistan. A rich source for these materials is Debka-Net-Weekly -for example, Vol.10, Issue 449. Debka is prepared mostly by former Mossad operatives. A reliable stream of information.
Back to Turkey and the E.U.: Turkey will not be admitted to the Union. Obama and Cameron are only magnifying the disappointment and the resentment of Erdogan. This disappointment and resentment will only feed the anger of the Islamist Turks and the country further into hands of the Muslim armed doctrine. Obama and Cameron are only raising false expectations. Why don't they just shut up?