January 24, 2012
Turkey and the "new normal"
Washington Post article about the dilemma facing the United States (and the world) regarding the changing attitudes in Turkey.
Washington Post article by Jackson Diehl:
[from a Republican Presidential debate event]
"Baier delivered a mostly accurate but extremely one-sided description of the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying that since his “Islamist-oriented party took over . . . the murder rate of women has increased 1,400 percent. Press freedom has declined to the level of Russia. [Erdogan] has embraced Hamas, and Turkey has threatened military force against both Israel and Cyprus.” Then he asked: “Do you believe Turkey still belongs in NATO?”
Perry responded: “Well, obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists . . .”
Islamic terrorists? This, mind you, is about a government that has just stationed an advanced radar on its territory that could be used to track and shoot down missiles from Iran; that joined the NATO operation against Moammar Gaddafi in Libya; that has become the host of the opposition to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad; and that, having repeatedly won free democratic elections, amended Turkey’s constitution to expand rights for women, ethnic minorities and unions.
Okay — that, too, was a one-sided account of the Erdogan record. But that is precisely the point: Turkey has become a complex, dynamic, difficult, sometimes infuriating, sometimes very helpful and indisputably important ally of the United States. In that sense, Erdogan’s government is a paradigm of the relationships U.S. administrations will be managing — if we are fortunate — in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab Middle East during the coming decade.
The reality is that, like it or not, “Islamist-oriented” governments are about to become the new normal in a region dominated for decades by secular autocrats and pro-American generals."