The Feb. 15 Christian Science Monitor
describes a situation that, to anyone familiar with American-Turkish relations
in the post-World War II period, is almost beyond imagining: an American attack
on Turkey. According to
the Monitor's story,
"The year is 2007. After a clash with Turkish forces in northern Iraq,
U.S. troops stage a surprise attack. Reeling, Turkey turns to Russia and the
European Union, who turn back the American onslaught.
"This is the plot of Metal Storm, one of the fastest-selling
books in Turkish history. The book is clearly sold as fiction, but its premise
has entered Turkey's public discourse in a way that sometimes seems to blur
the line between fantasy and reality.
"'The Foreign Ministry and General Staff are reading it keenly,' Murat
Yetkin, a columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Radikal, recently wrote.
'All cabinet members also have it.'"
Here we see in dramatic fashion America's loss of the "Global War
on Terrorism" at the moral level. By invading and occupying Iraq, a country
that posed no threat to us, and threatening to do the same to other countries
around the world, we have made America into a monster – even in Turkey, the
country that has been our closest Islamic ally since the onset of the Cold War.
So dramatically has America managed to reverse its post-9/11 moral ascendancy
that not only can Turks imagine us attacking Turkey, they see Russia coming
to their rescue! Russia has been Turkey's number-one enemy for centuries.
It seems America has managed to bring about what historians call a "diplomatic
revolution," a fundamental shift in alliances, by encouraging everyone
else, ancient enemies included, to ally against herself. The Monitor
goes on to report that
"Egemen Bagis, a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP) and chairman of the Turkey-U.S. friendship caucus in parliament,
says the unpopular war in neighboring Iraq continues to fuel anti-American feelings.
"'This public feeling, this public tension, is not any different from
what is happening in other European countries or other Middle Eastern countries,'
Mr. Bagis says."
The Bush administration, one of whose 'droids reportedly said that "we
create our own reality," will take comfort in the fact that Turkey's
government, like governments elsewhere, remains our humble and obliging servant.
To observers who seek rather than shun reality, that is cold comfort. In today's
world, public opinion is strategically more important, not less important, than
the attitudes of governments. It is one of the many ironies in the jumble of
contradictions that make up this administration's policies that the democracy
it promotes would quickly worsen, not better, America's diplomatic position.
The Monitor quotes an American diplomat, speaking of the situation
in Turkey post-Metal Storm, "We're really pulling our hair out trying
to figure how to deal with this." That unhappy diplomat now knows how it
felt to work in the German Foreign Office before both World Wars. The task he
faces goes beyond what diplomacy can hope to accomplish. So long as a powerful
country is on the grand strategic offensive, demanding that everyone else in
the world bow to its wishes and adopt its ideology or be subject to attack (Wilhelmine
Germany did not actually go that far, though America's neocons now do), it will
push everyone else into a coalition against it. Just as Bismarck's successor
Holstein could not imagine an alliance between republican France and czarist
Russia, and watched it happen nonetheless, Metal Storm now portrays an
equally unimaginable alliance between Turkey and Russia. Will that too come
to pass? An American attack on another Middle Eastern country, which I think
likely, may bring about many unimaginable alliances.
Kirk, the grand old man of the postwar American conservative movement, put
"There is one sure way of making a deadly enemy, and that is to propose
to anybody, 'Submit yourself to me, and I will improve your condition by relieving
you from the burden of your own image and by reconstituting your substance in
Not only will that make an enemy of anybody, it will make an enemy of everybody.