And in 1998 Daniel Pipes was promoting his pipe dream about the post-Cold War “New Middle East” which was “rapidly sorting itself into two new regional power blocs.” At the center of one bloc “stand Turkey and Israel, two countries that in many ways are natural partners.” Both countries are non-Arab, democratic, and Western oriented, and “each maintains a large military and faces a major threat of terrorism.” Both put great store in their relationship with the United States, and each “has problems with both Syria and Iran, the two countries that happen to stand in the center of the opposing bloc.” He even suggested that unlike the “superficiality” of the relations between Syria and Iran, which according to him, were reminiscent of those between Germany and Japan during World War II, the relationship between Israel and Turkey “resembles that between the United States and Great Britain in that war.”
Now Pipes is advancing his latest fantasy. Forget about Turkey, a modern and secular democracy with a thriving free-market oriented economy that is a member of NATO and is hoping to join NATO, not to mention the fact that it mainstains full diplomatic relationship with Israel. And we all know what’s happening in Iran which represents the anti-thesis to Turkey.
Yet, in another example of neoconservative-style of dialectical thinking running amok, Pipes, referring to the rulling Islamist political party in Ankara — elected in an open and free election — suggests that “while the Turkish government presents few immediate dangers, its more subtle application of Islamism’s hideous principles makes it loom large as a future threat.” And he predicts that, “Long after Khomeini and Osama bin Laden are forgotten, I venture, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [current Turkish PM) and his colleagues will be remembered as the inventors of a more lasting and insidious form of Islamism.” At the same time, “Iran has a unique potential to lead Muslims out of the dark night of Islamism toward a more modern, moderate, and good-neighborly form of Islam.” As did the revolution in 1979, “that achievement would be likely to affect Muslims far and wide,” Pipes insists.
Now.. why all of this is going to happen — a radical Islamist Turkey leading an anti-Westen alliance while Iran is being transformed into a pro-American democracy — is not clear. Even if one assumes (as I do) that the results of the 2009 presidential elections in Iran were manipulated by the clertics, it’s important to recall that none of the main cadidates were committed to secualr and liberal policies. I’m personally not a big fan of Turkey’s Erdoğan, but he did win the support of the more conservative population and his foreign policies doesn’t represent a dramatic shift in his country’s approach. If anything, these policies reflect changing national interests and not Islamic ideology. But, hey, why ruin Pipes’ great narrative/wishful thinking.