AHI Letter Congratulates The Wall
Street Journal and Senior Editorial Page Writer Robert L.
—On February 22, 2005, AHI President Gene Rossides
sent a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal
the Journal and senior editorial writer
Robert L. Pollock for
his piece titled, "The Sick Man of Europe--Again" (February 16, 2005;
Page A14; col. 3). The text of the letter appears below, followed by
The Wall Street Journal
article to which the letter responds.
February 22, 2005
Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281
Congratulations to The
Wall Street Journal and Robert L. Pollock for his revealing article
on Turkey "The Sick Man of Europe-Again" (2-16-05) which tells it as it
is. Finally a mainstream journalist, and a conservative one at that,
has given us the real picture of Turkey's virulent anti-American and
The U.S. media has failed to
cover adequately the situation in Turkey for decades. They have taken
handouts and statements from U.S. officials without serious questioning
or investigation. Mr. Pollock's detailed article will hopefully change
the media's complacency and work habits. Hopefully Mr. Pollock's
article will also stimulate the administration to reassess its policy
I look forward to a future
article by Mr. Pollock detailing Turkey's many instances of cooperation
with the Soviet military during the Cold War to the serious detriment
of U.S. interests, its violations of U.S. laws and the UN Charter in
its invasion of Cyprus and its horrendous human rights violations.
American Hellenic Institute
THE WALL STREET
The Sick Man of Europe--Again
Islamism and leftism
add up to anti-American madness in Turkey.
ROBERT L. POLLOCK
February 16, 2005 12:01 a.m.
ANKARA, Turkey--Several years ago I attended an exhibition
in Istanbul. The theme was local art from the era of the country's
last military coup (1980). But the artists seemed a lot more concerned
with the injustices of global capitalism than the fate of Turkish
democracy. In fact, to call the works leftist caricatures--many featured
fat capitalists with Uncle Sam hats and emaciated workers--would have
been an understatement. As one astute local reviewer put it (I quote
from memory): "This shows that Turkish artists were willing to
abase themselves voluntarily in ways that Soviet artists refused even
at the height of Stalin's oppression."
That exhibition came to mind amid all the recent gnashing of teeth
in the U.S. over the question of "Who lost Turkey?" Because
it shows that a 50-year special relationship, between longtime NATO
allies who fought Soviet expansionism together starting in Korea,
has long had to weather the ideological hostility and intellectual
decadence of much of Istanbul's elite. And at the 2002 election, the
increasingly corrupt mainstream parties that had championed Turkish-American
ties self-destructed, leaving a vacuum that was filled by the subtle
yet insidious Islamism of the Justice and Development (AK) Party.
It's this combination of old leftism and new Islamism--much more than
any mutual pique over Turkey's refusal to side with us in the Iraq
war--that explains the collapse in relations.
And what a collapse it has been. On a brief visit to Ankara earlier
this month with Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, I found a poisonous
atmosphere--one in which just about every politician and media outlet
(secular and religious) preaches an extreme combination of America-
and Jew-hatred that (like the Turkish artists) voluntarily goes far
further than anything found in most of the Arab world's state-controlled
press. If I hesitate to call it Nazi-like, that's only because Goebbels
would probably have rejected much of it as too crude.
Consider the Islamist newspaper Yeni Safak, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan's favorite. A Jan. 9 story claimed that U.S. forces were tossing
so many Iraqi bodies into the Euphrates that mullahs there had issued
a fatwa prohibiting residents from eating its fish. Yeni Safak has
also repeatedly claimed that U.S. forces used chemical weapons in
Fallujah. One of its columnists has alleged that U.S. soldiers raped
women and children there and left their bodies in the streets to be
eaten by dogs. Among the paper's "scoops" have been the
1,000 Israeli soldiers deployed alongside U.S. forces in Iraq, and
that U.S. forces have been harvesting the innards of dead Iraqis for
sale on the U.S. "organ market."
It's not much better in the secular press. The mainstream Hurriyet
has accused Israeli hit squads of assassinating Turkish security personnel
in Mosul, and the U.S. of starting an occupation of Indonesia under
the guise of humanitarian assistance. At Sabah, a columnist last fall
accused the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman, of letting his
"ethnic origins"--guess what, he's Jewish--determine his
behavior. Mr. Edelman is indeed the all-too-rare foreign-service officer
who takes seriously his obligation to defend America's image and interests
abroad. The intellectual climate in which he's operating has gone
so mad that he actually felt compelled to organize a conference call
with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey to explain that secret
U.S. nuclear testing did not cause the recent tsunami.
Never in an ostensibly friendly country have I had the impression
of embassy staff so besieged. Mr. Erdogan's office recently forbade
Turkish officials from attending a reception at the ambassador's residence
in honor of the "Ecumenical" Patriarch of the Orthodox Church,
who resides in Istanbul. Why? Because "ecumenical" means
universal, which somehow makes it all part of a plot to carve up Turkey.
Perhaps the most bizarre anti-American story au courant in the Turkish
capital is the "eighth planet" theory, which holds not only
that the U.S. knows of an impending asteroid strike, but that we know
it's going to hit North America. Hence our desire to colonize the
It all sounds loony, I know. But such stories are told in all seriousness
at the most powerful dinner tables in Ankara. The common thread is
that almost everything the U.S. is doing in the world--even tsunami
relief--has malevolent motivations, usually with the implication that
we're acting as muscle for the Jews.
In the face of such slanders Turkish politicians have been utterly
silent. In fact, Turkish parliamentarians themselves have accused
the U.S. of "genocide" in Iraq, while Mr. Erdogan (who we
once hoped would set for the Muslim world an example of democracy)
was among the few world leaders to question the legitimacy of the
Iraqi elections. When confronted, Turkish pols claim they can't risk
going against "public opinion."
All of which makes Mr. Erdogan a prize hypocrite for protesting to
Condoleezza Rice the unflattering portrayal of Turkey in an episode
of the fictional TV show "The West Wing." The episode allegedly
depicts Turkey as having been taking over by a retrograde populist
government that threatens women's rights. (Sounds about right to me.)
In the old days, Turkey would have had an opposition party strong
enough to bring such a government closer to sanity. But the only opposition
now is a moribund People's Republican Party, or CHP, once the party
of Ataturk. At a recent party congress, its leader accused his main
challenger of having been part of a CIA plot against him. That's not
to say there aren't a few comparatively pro-U.S. officials left in
the current government and the state bureaucracies. But they're afraid
to say anything in public. In private, they whine endlessly about
trivial things the U.S. "could have done differently."
Entirely forgotten is that President Bush was among the first world
leaders to recognize Prime Minister Erdogan, while Turkey's own legal
system was still weighing whether he was secular enough for the job.
Forgotten have been decades of U.S. military assistance. Forgotten
have been years of American efforts to secure a pipeline route for
Caspian oil that terminates at the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Forgotten
has been the fact that U.S. administrations continue to fight annual
attempts in Congress to pass a resolution condemning modern Turkey
for the long-ago Armenian genocide. Forgotten has been America's persistent
lobbying for Turkish membership in the European Union.
Forgotten, above all, has been America's help against the PKK. Its
now-imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was expelled from Syria in
1998 after the Turks threatened military action. He was then passed
like a hot potato between European governments, who refused to extradite
him to Turkey because--gasp!--he might face the death penalty. He
was eventually caught--with the help of U.S. intelligence--sheltered
in the Greek Embassy in Nairobi. "They gave us Ocalan. What could
be bigger than that?" says one of a handful of unapologetically
pro-U.S. Turks I still know.
I know that Mr. Feith (another Jew, the Turkish press didn't hesitate
to note), and Ms. Rice after him, pressed Turkish leaders on the need
to challenge some of the more dangerous rhetoric if they value the
Turkey-U.S. relationship. There is no evidence yet that they got a
satisfactory answer. Turkish leaders should understand that the "public
opinion" they cite is still reversible. But after a few more
years of riding the tiger, who knows? Much of Ataturk's legacy risks
being lost, and there won't be any of the old Ottoman grandeur left,
either. Turkey could easily become just another second-rate country:
small-minded, paranoid, marginal and--how could it be otherwise?--friendless
in America and unwelcome in Europe.
Mr. Pollock is a senior editorial page writer at the Journal.
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