THE SPINE DECEMBER 1, 2010
The courting was actually of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the personification of the new Turkey. And it wasn't as if Erdogan was an unknown quantity.
In this morning's Financial Times, Daniel Dombey and Delphine Strauss report (through the horrible graces of WikiLeaks) that Eric Edelman, former U.S. ambassador in Ankara, had "described Mr. Erdogan as having 'overbearing pride'; 'unbridled ambition stemming from the belief that God had anointed him to lead Turkey'; 'an overweening desire to stay in power'; and 'a distrust of women'." But this was six years ago, and the new Ottoman sultan was still preening for the West. Erdogan wanted Turkey to be in and of Europe and needed to dispose of what he must think of as "surplus populace," an ugly concept.
Turkey is as likely to be integrated into the European Union (if the E.U. stays alive, which is dubious) as Israel will soon be a member of the Arab League.
Maybe Obama saw the changes in Turkey: its belligerence to the West, its swing toward Iran, its Muslim ambitions, And maybe he wanted to stop them. In any event, amidst the deluge of memos there is nothing suggesting any of this. But I think not.
Instead, in his three day (yes, three day) trip to Turkey during the spring of 2009, Obama let his imagination float free: "We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country." Blah, blah, blah. To a round of applause from the parliament, he assured that the United States favors the admission of Turkey to the E.U. Does he really think that? Or is it one of his fantasies, like that the U.N. is a benign institution?
Anyway, in the interim, Ankara has asserted itself in its practical friendship with Iran and its concrete enmity towards Israel, especially in the orchestrated six vessel intervention for Hamas in Gaza.
The FT WikiLeaks article details Turkey's cooperation with Iranian nuclear development.
And Mrs. Clinton apologized for the leaks.
But it's good that we know their contents.
Even if the president believes the opposite.