Turkey’s historical moment frames our immediate crisis: civilized human beings confronting Iran-funded Hamas’ savagery.
The Calendar Moment: The Turkish Republic celebrated its 100th anniversary on Oct. 29.
The Turkish Republic’s democracy is the legacy of Kemal Ataturk, the only man to successfully modernize a culturally Muslim nation. Ataturk was a genuine political giant. The democratic orientation he bequeathed is Turkey’s greatest domestic political strength and — until now — its most valuable foreign policy tool.
Ataturk admired European parliamentary government and western technological prowess, so his republic had a definite Western political inclination. As for east and south? He knew first-hand that the divisive and tribal conflicts of the Arab world and central Asia sapped Turkey politically and economically. They distracted Turks from the process of modernization. Ataturk also saw Bolshevik Russia as an adversary.
So, congratulate the Turks — at least the slightly less than 50% of Turkish voters who appreciate Ataturk’s genius and oppose Turkey’s degrading current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Unfortunately, Erdo — my nickname — reigns. Erdo despises Ataturk and Ataturk’s political legacy.
A so-called moderate Islamist, Erdo has been in power since 2003. His legacy after 20 years: a one-man power state — a corrupt Erdo Ego State.
Erdo’s self-serving corruption has crippled Turkish democracy.
Why did he do it? My take: Erdo’s motives are fodder for a disturbing psychological novel where, unfortunately, several hundred thousand innocents die. Perhaps millions.
The next five years will likely up the death toll.
This point is certain: Erdogan is deeply jealous of Ataturk.
A Greek tragedy? No. Real-world human tragedy.
It’s 2023, so we move from novel to tweet. In a recent tweet, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote that Turkey’s “senior leadership (Erdo), is setting itself up to be ‘The Squad’ of NATO… Very disappointing and destabilizing.” The Squad Graham mentions is a notorious group of hard-Left, antisemitic Democrats in the House of Representatives that includes terrorist-kowtowing Beltway Clerks like Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
The Squad frustrates sane American governance. Why? Another novel — they are media seekers. I suspect Ataturk would see them as vicious tribal propagandists seeking publicity.
But Graham’s tweet addressed real tragedy. His post linked to an Oct. 28 speech in which Erdogan claimed Israel had been “openly committing war crimes for 22 days.”
Wow. Erdo — what garbage. What an inaccurate and utterly hypocritical statement!
We must assess Erdo’s and his supporters’ words, which like the Squads’ leave violent mental scars on impressionable minds. Erdo’s recent deeds — real-world acts where real people bleed and die — beg for judgment.
Let’s judge Erdo’s fake Middle Man’s tightrope game.
March 2022— Good Face: Erdo claims he’s the go-between for Ukraine and Russia. Oct. 19, 2023 — Bad Bad Face: Erdo ally and notorious antisemite Muhammed Ali Fatih Erbakan calls for the closure of NATO military bases in Turkey. Erbakan specifies the Incirlik Air Base and the Kurecik Radar facility. Reality Question: Is Iran paying Erbakan or is Russia?
Oct. 23 — Happy Face: Erdo sends Turkey’s parliament a bill approving Sweden’s NATO membership.
Oct. 25 — NATO Bad Face but for Islamists a Happy Face: Erdo tells his party faithful: “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation group, ‘mujahideen’ waging a battle to protect its lands and people.”
Oct. 26 Counter-Terror Honest Face: Turkish aircraft and drones on attack Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions in northern Iraq. Turkey and Erdo, for good reason, call the PKK terrorists. Turkey claims the strikes killed 10 PKK terrorists. Justification: the PKK’s suicide bomber Oct. 1 attacks in Ankara.
Justified retaliation? Yes. Yet. Hamas propagandists and NATO knee-jerks condemned Israel for justified retaliation against Hamas’ Oct. 7 baby-beheading atrocities.
Background: Erdo knows Incirlik gives him leverage. Is refusing to allow the U.S. to use Incirlik an impossible condition for Turkish membership in NATO?
Erdo prizes NATO membership. In 2012 when Syrians fired across the Turkish border, he threatened to invoke NATO Article 5’s mutual defense clause.
Praising Hamas tests the Ego-Actor tightrope Erdo walks. Will the tightrope hold, or has Erdo’s verbal extremism already snapped the frayed NATO tightrope?
Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and author.