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Turkey And The U.S.: From The Eastern Question To The Western Question

29 June 2010

By Dallas Darling

Does the Turkish-Ottoman Empire have a future? This was the “Eastern Question” that started in the 18th century, as Austria and Russia seized Turkish-Ottoman possessions in the Balkans. In the 19th century, France and England gained control of more territory in the Middle East. However, it was during and after World War One, that the Ottoman Turks were forced to give-up most of their lands. The answer to the Eastern Question had finally been answered when the victorious European Powers dismembered the Turkish-Ottoman Empire.

But out of the “Sick Man of Europe” rose Turkey, and in many ways, it has answered the Eastern Question. This was no more clearer than when Turkey and Brazil recently urged the United Nations Security Council to refrain from more hurtful sanctions against Iran, specifically in regards to Iran’s refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program for the purpose of powering hospitals and universities. The letter, signed by Turkey and Brazil, said it was time for the security members to negotiate with Iran and accept the Iranian-Turkey nuclear fuel swap agreement.

Several weeks earlier, Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tyyip Erdogan, had flown to Tehran and ended a deadlock between the Western Powers, namely the United States, and Iran’s disputed nuclear enrichment program. Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey, so it can be monitored. This will possibly ease tensions between the United States and Iran. But Turkey’s prime minister also questioned the heavily influenced UN Security Council by claiming it lacked “credibility” to deal with Iran’s nuclear issue.

Turkey’s prime minister also reiterated during the Nuclear Summit in Washington that the international community had turned a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear program, including its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, cautioned the West by saying Turkey was Iran’s neighbor, and that sanctions only injure the people of Iran. He pledged Turkey to act as an intermediary between the United States and Iran, and that the former needed to engage in talks and in building trust.

Not only has Turkey asked the “Where is your credibility if you have nuclear weapons but are telling other countries not to have them” question to the UN Security Council, (The U.S. maintains over 5,000 nuclear warheads.), but as a one-time formidable U.S.-NATO ally and former military base during the Cold War, Turkey and Russia have just agreed to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. The two nations have decided to build a pipeline to carry Russian oil from the Black Sea through Turkey, and then to the Mediterranean Sea.

Although Turkey and Israel have established strong economic and military ties, Turkey’s prime minister publicly denounced Israel’s armed invasion of Gaza more than a year ago. Turkey has brought attention to several incidences of Israeli war crimes too during Israel’s military incursion into Gaza, and it has called on the international community to help put an end to Israel‘s harsh treatment of Palestinian-Arabs living in occupied territories. When Israeli forces killed ten people belonging to the Freedom Flotilla, tens of thousands of Turkish protesters filled the streets crying, “We are all Palestinians now!” Turkey also supports an independent Palestinian State, and recognizes that Israel’s growing settlement programs and punitive embargoes are principal threats to peace in the Middle East.

Now that Turkey has answered the Eastern Question, the “Western Question” is: Does the United States Empire have a future? With perpetual wars raging in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and with a thirteen trillion dollar debt, it appears the United States Empire, like the once powerful Ottoman-Turkish Empire, is slowly collapsing. The “Sick Man of the Americas” is being challenged, as indigenous movements and insurgencies are resisting and bankrupting its global corporate-military holdings. It is even being surpassed by more progressive and democratic governments, which are providing greather opportunities for healthcare, education and employment.

The United States Empire is also finding itself weakened at home. It is experiencing major political, economic and social upheavals. Near the end of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, Sultans ruled with incompetence, religious communities, or millets, turned on each other, and the once feared Janissaries mutinied. Today, America’s political leaders have isolated themselves. Communities reject dialogue and toleration for fascism, militancy and gangs. Soldiers have tortured and executed prisoners of war. The arts and literature have become debased. There is no just and magnificent Lawgiver, and life is just another commodity.

After World War One, and while the Western Powers were canceling promises made to Arab countries in helping to fight the Ottoman Empire, Emir Faisal had this to say at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference: “We have paid a heavy price for our liberty, but we are not exhausted. We are ready to fight on. I cannot believe that the great rulers here assembled will treat us as did our former oppressors (the Ottoman Turks). I think they will act from higher, nobler motives, but-if not-they should remember how badly it has turned out for our former oppressors.” Turkey arose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. It is making tremendous contributions and achievements. The United States might not be so fortunate.

-- Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John‘s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.




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