When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, political observer Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed it to be “the end of history”, meaning liberal democracy and capitalism had prevailed against all comers, and no more challengers remained. It was very much the anti-thesis of Hegel’s prediction that communism would ultimately succeed, with the resulting dissolution of the nation state. How very wrong they both were. Here VDH warns of the emerging Caliphate.
The New Wannabe Ottomans
A Turkish Islamic group — the “Humanitarian Relief Foundation,” often associated by Western intelligence agencies with terrorist sponsorship — orchestrated the recent Gaza flotilla. It was hoping for the sort of violent, well-publicized confrontation with the Israeli navy that later followed.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, immediately issued veiled threats to Israel. He then badgered the United States, Turkey‘s NATO patron ally, to condemn the Israeli interdiction. While the world piled on in its criticism of Israel, there was also a sort of stunned silence over the actions of Turkey, without whose help the blockade-running flotilla would never have left a Turkish port.
Erdogan’s hysterics emphasized the Islamic transformation of a once secular Turkey that has been going on for well over a decade. In 2003, Turkey forbade passage to U.S. troops in their efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq. State-run Turkish television instead aired virulent anti-American dramas, like “Valley of the Wolves,” in which our soldiers appear as little more than blood-crazed killers who dismember poor Iraqi civilians.
Lately, Turkey has reached out to Iran and Syria. Both habitually sponsor Mideast terrorist groups and have aided anti-American insurgents in Iraq. Turkey and Brazil recently offered to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, sidestepping American and European efforts to step up sanctions to stop Teheran’s plans for a bomb.
Erdogan’s anti-Israel attacks often match those of his newfound friends, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah’s Hasan Nasrallah. Former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, remember, once blamed the Jews for starting the Crusades, and for instigating World War I to create Israel. He also described them as a “disease” that needed to be eradicated.
What is behind the Turkish metamorphosis from a staunch U.S. ally, NATO member and quasi-European state into a sponsor of Hamas, ally of theocratic Iran and fellow traveler with terrorist-sponsoring Syria?
The Cold War is over. Turkey no longer guards the southeastern flank of Europe from the advance of Soviet communism, lessening its importance within NATO. Its Anatolian Muslim population grows, while more secular European and Aegean Turks have lost influence. Turkey senses a growing distance between Tel Aviv and Washington, and thus an opportunity to step into the gulf to unite Muslims against Israel and win influence in the Arab world.
Erdogan clearly identifies more with the old transnational Ottoman sultanate than with Kemal Ataturk’s modern, secular and Western nation-state. Indeed, he has bragged that he is a grandson of the Ottomans and announced that Turkey’s new goal was to restore the might of the Ottoman Empire.
And so, like the theocratic Ottomans of old, Erdogan’s Islamic Turkey fancies itself a window on the West, absorbing technology and expertise from Europe and the United States in order to empower and unite the more spiritually pure Muslims across national boundaries.
Just as the Shah of Iran’s pro-Western, secular transformation failed and led to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s anti-Western Islamic revolution, we are seeing something similar in Erdogan’s efforts to turn Ataturk’s Turkey back into the theocratic sultanate that ran the Eastern Mediterranean for more than three centuries.
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Nature abhors a vacuum. The struggle of titans that was the Cold War was purely a superpowers affair. The rest of the world saw little choice but to play along– either as junior partners or post-colonial proxies– or risk total irrelevancy. Yet it was a history imposed upon them from the top. When the Berlin Wall fell, a vacuum was created, and the existential imperative for those Cold War partnerships ceased to exist. That void is now being rapidly filled by the age-old struggle between the Eastern world and the West going all the way back to Thermopylae and Constantinople. Alliances too are returning to their ancient, historical raison d’etre. History did not end with the triumph of Western democracy over communism. Indeed, in the post-colonial decades of the Cold War, it was merely taking a break.