Home/Daniel Larison/The Campaign to Vilify Turkey Has Begun

The Campaign to Vilify Turkey Has Begun

Mr. Erodogan’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is a proponent of a philosophy which calls on Turkey to loosen Western ties to the U.S., NATO and the European Union and seek its own sphere of influence to the east. ~Robert Pollock

If we actually take seriously what Davutoglu has said, this is a gross distortion at best and dishonest at worst. Just last month, Davutoglu said this:

Turkey’s relations with other global actors aim to be complementary, not in competition. Such a policy views Turkey’s strategic relationship with the United States through the two countries’ bilateral strategic ties and through NATO. It considers its EU membership process, its good neighborhood policy with Russia, and its synchronization policy in Eurasia as integral parts of a consistent policy that serves to complement each other. This means that good relations with Russia are not an alternative to relations with the EU. Nor is the model partnership with the United States a rival partnership against Russia.

What he calls a “multi-dimensional foreign policy” here combines with the so-called “zero problems” approach to Turkey’s eastern neighbors. Pollock could argue that what Davutoglu proposes is not realistic, not least because some of Turkey’s Western allies are refusing to be part of a “multi-dimensional” Turkish foreign policy. He could also say that there are people in the AKP who want to do these things, but Davutoglu apparently isn’t one of them. Pollock might also point out that the “model partnership” description of the U.S.-Turkish relationship is diplomatic boilerplate invented to paper over the deterioration in U.S.-Turkish relations. So it simply isn’t true that Davutoglu proposes loosening ties to Western institutions and allies. If that is Davutoglu’s “real” intention, as opposed to the one he has stated publicly, Pollock provides no evidence that this is so.

Pollock writes later:

What’s more, Turks remain blind to their manifest hypocrisies. Ask how they would feel if other countries arranged an “aid” convoy (akin to the Gaza flotilla) for their own Kurdish minority and you’ll be met with dumb stares.

Over the last few days I have seen a few people trying to equate the current status of Palestinians in Gaza with that of the Kurds in Turkey. Apparently Pollock expects us not to know that the status of Kurds has improved significantly under the AKP government. Kurds have representation in the Turkish parliament. Kurds have been granted some language and other rights that they did not have in the “good old days” before the AKP took power, and last year’s “Kurdish initiative” was an attempt to expand on this. This AKP initiative encountered significant political resistance from the Republicans and the National Movement, which means that the one party attempting to address some Kurdish grievances is the one Pollock is attacking. Hurriyet was reporting as recently as Monday that the failure of the initiative was the reason for stepped-up PKK violence, including the attack in Iskenderun on Monday. Diyarbakir and Erzerum are not blockaded enclaves, and there are not over a million Kurds living in government-enforced poverty in the name of anti-terrorism. Can anyone seriously claim that Palestinians in Gaza are currently being treated the same as Kurds in Turkey?

It hasn’t taken long for the usual tactics of vilification normally reserved for authoritarian states to be applied in full force to Turkey. Pollock’s op-ed is the most extensive effort I’ve seen so far, but we can expect much more of the same for the rest of the summer and perhaps for the next decade.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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