The Ethnic Origins, Source of Power and Current Political Methods of Globalism

July 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The first image in this article is that of the English royal family’s coaagincourtt of arms. It is not chosen by accident but it is a powerfully symbolic image for the topic in question. The coat of arms is emblazoned with two repeated heraldic icons: the three fleur-de-lys and the three lions. The former were the arms of French royalty for a millennium, the latter are to this day the arms of the Danish royal family. Why is this relevant? Because it is an especially apt way of defining Britain: a mix of continental Europe and Nordic Europe. It is specifically in Nordic Britain that lies the original sin whose offspring globalism – universalism academically – is today.

Nordics are a very distinct group among the world’s ethnicities. Their geographical circumstance forces them to be highly productive since they have to generate enough resources to survive the winter. Simultaneously, they cannot rely on family ties or resources because the territory, while harvestable, is scarcely populated. This has bred a mentality which is individualistic to an extreme and radically self-reliant and disciplined. Other regions of the planet are too densely populated and too easily farmed for self-reliance to take hold. In the case of aboriginal peoples, their mentality was usually Asian and therefore collectivistic. This meant some level of discipline but not self-reliance and therefore not productivity. Discipline can be a competitive advantage in fertile regions but not in difficult ones since creativity is especially needed when overcoming challenges.

The reason why the Reformation reached almost exclusively Germanic Europe is easily explained by the mentality already in existence there: the self-reliant kind. One who is self-reliant requires a personal relationship with God and eschews collectivistic rituals. Such rituals may be well suited for preserving community ties but not so for allowing a personal interpretation of the good book. In the case of the Reformation phenomenon too, Britain is a rare breed, as its Anglicanism is a clear compromise between protestant principles and catholic ritual.

England in particular is worthy of note because it was there that many Nordics settled during the Middle Ages. We call Britain Anglo-Saxon because of these raids and invasions and what better place demonstrates this History than the tellingly named East Anglia? East Anglia is a very special place for English History: it was one of the main sources of puritanism in Britain and it was also one of the earliest regions to support the Parliamentarian (republican) revolution under the authoritarian Oliver Cromwell.

It is worth understanding that one of the key features of the Nordic mentality is that of political correctness. This is probably due to the higher need for an efficient decision-making process within Nordic settlements. Human resources are scarce and weather is unforgiving which translates into a laconic and simplistic conferential system. The great poets of the world, after all, come from the South: Middle Eastern poetry, Latin novels, etc. And lest we forget, time became a commodity in northern formal cultures, not in southern ones, which means that there was concern in optimising its usefulness in the North, not the South.

Political correctness must be understood in its puerile simplicity before moving to the next link in the chain: New England. As it happens, New England was settled mostly by …you guessed it: East Anglians; and puritan ones at that. Is it then really surprising that the two most important radical anti-hypocrisy revolutionary movements in American History – namely republican separatism and abolitionism – began in New England?

The cause of independence found its earliest and most passionate support in puritan settlements, the ‘tea party’ took place on Boston, Massachusetts. Northern (New England) colonies contributed about as many soldiers for the Revolutionary War as the Southern ones but while the northern fought the English, the southern fought with the English. The contradiction of ‘taxation without representation’ could simply not be tolerated by the puritans’ protestant ethics. Nor could, for that matter, the contradiction between the ‘self-evident truth’ that ‘all men are created equal’ and slavery. The founding fathers, of course, could perfectly tolerate it but then again, most of them were southerners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.

The puritan zeal eventually spread into the Midwest and it is again revealing that it was a Midwesterner that led the abolitionist revolution: Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, most actual Nordic-Americans (those who immigrated directly from Scandinavia to America) still inhabit the Midwest and this fact became very salient during the recent Republican primaries when Donald Trump lost Wisconsin to Ted Cruz. Nordics have precious little tolerance for the antics of eccentric political incorrectness; Trump’s Berlusconism is a competitive disadvantage with Nordics and Puritans. During the civil war, whereas French-Americans and Catholics in general supported the South’s secession, English-Americans and protestants in general, supported the North.

Yet both the Midwest and New England have seen their demographics change: Boston has become progressively catholic – which explains Trump’s appeal in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey – and the industrialisation of the ‘rust belt’ brought with it labourers from the South – whereas enriched original settlers slowly moved to the vicinities for better living conditions – which allows us to understand Trump’s success there.

9815a31c194e4a99dcc7488a12d6c153This same zeal was in evidence in the baby-boomers political conscience during the protests of the May of 68. The soixante-huitards were extremist in their beliefs, calling for absolute pacifism and social justice with the world’s poor. As soon as they reached power towards the end of the Cold War and at the onset of the ‘new world order’, theirs became the generation of endless indebtedness, overwhelming generosity towards to 3rd world and moralisation of every conflict via the ‘end of History’ paradigm. The EU itself being the ultimate soixante-huitard project of replicating in Europe the utopian extreme idea-state of American exceptionalism – a notion whose germen had been established by the founding fathers in rhetoric and by Lincoln in practice. After the end of the Cold War, America’s East-Anglian exceptionalism has now become for the Atlanticist elites, the foundation for their messianic vision of the “end of History”: a liberal-democratic, and, ultimately, a Nordic individualist, world.

It is this ethnic record that explains why Western universalists periodically do not find it difficult to support neonazi or jihadi movements. At the heart of the matter is the cause of universalism. A normal state would only consider supporting extremist movements if vital existential interests were at stake. In WWII the Allies brought in the USSR because they alone could not beat Nazi Germany, for instance. Yet, Western universalists show much smaller compunction in doing so today because they know a victory of extremist forces would advance the universalist cause. Better to have a jihadi regime in Syria or a neonazi one in Ukraine so long as they subscribe, even if only nominally, to universalist doctrine. In practice of course, a moderate but anti-universalist regime in Syria may be brutal to its citizens but it does not genocide them, and a moderate regime in Ukraine may be incredibly corrupt but it doesn’t launch the army against its citizens nor does it pass discriminatory laws which cause respect for minorities and political opponents to drop.

The world is divided between universalists and those submissive to them, and the ones who resist universalism. The Manichean division tolerates absence of universalist practices only in so far as those who don’t practice are submissive to those who preach it. Thus Saudi Arabia Egypt or Hungary can exist at the margin of universalist practice because they contribute to the cause worldwide and they can even hypocritically call for democracy, human rights and rule of law elsewhere, so long as that fits the interests of the globalist elites.

The problem is not hypocrisy, the problem does not lie in cooperating with ideologically dissimilar regimes, the problem rather consists in the fact that, at the end of the day, what is being advanced is not the interests of the different Western states, what is being advanced is only an ideological cause. Being ruled by activists means the powers of the state are subverted into serving a particular ideology.

Part of the reason why the universalists’ power is slowly eroding is their zealotry, to be sure. However, another factor is the immense contradictions that serving a failed ideology cause since the more it fails, the more excuses one requires to justify it and at some point too many excuses become counter-productive as justification.

AKP Turkey is an excellent example of this very phenomenon. According to most (recep_tayyip_erdogan_by_setobuje-d2rs6grWestern) standards, by now Turkey should be one of the most reviled regimes in the world: it is an authoritarian state where its leader is manipulating parliament to unilaterally alter the constitution in order to reinforce his own powers and remain in office, political adversaries are regularly lustrated, journalists are periodically incarcerated and media outlets brought under governmental/ruling party control, the will exists to restrict the internet, the leader’s family is corrupt and syphons money using its family connection to the leader, the country is restricting individual liberties and reinforcing religious norms, its foreign policy is disastrous since it has deteriorated its relations with most neighbours, geopolitically the government either tolerates or actively supports extremist movements abroad and it is aligned with another illiberal state to accomplish it (Qatar).

Turkey is even better as an example than Saudi Arabia because the Kingdom only seeks to survive and to what extent it changed internally, it did so to become more liberal, not less. Also important is foreign policy orientation since Riyadh has geopolitical reasons to wish to force into power an anti-Iranian regime in Syria and in Yemen. Turkey, on the other hand, has nothing to fear from Iran both because it is equivalent in size and because it can count on NATO.

Apart from totalitarian DPRK, Russia is perhaps the most detested regime in the world as far as the West is concerned but in terms of values, Putin pales in comparison to Erdogan in every respect except one: resistance to universalism. Putin may actually be more democratic, less tolerant of extremism, more accepting of opposing media, his nepotistic corrupt ties less obvious/sizeable, be more respectful of the constitutional order, less restrictive of personal freedoms, his foreign policy more successful, rational, predictable and purveyor of stability. Unlike Erdogan though, Putin is not a team player. Quite to the contrary, the Kremlin actively resists universalist influence and that is a much greater threat to an ideology than herded black sheep.

Why is that so? Because this particular ideology is revisionist to the core. It matters little that individualist universalism is not implemented in actuality. Thanks to a culturally Marxist academia and largely sympathetic media and intellectuals, what is preached today will slowly be practiced tomorrow so long as there is enough critical mass for it. The populace has a short memory and its very language and thoughts can be manipulated by the elites.

The West is often histrionic, and rightly so, when other countries revise their history books so as to gloss over past crimes. The West is not quite so outraged when the same is done in its own turf to promote its own ideology.

So at a time of record ignorance on the part of Westerners, of the role played by Russia in defeating Nazi Germany – according to polls, most Westerners believe Western troops were the ones that made the biggest effort to defeat the III Reich – Western leaders decide they will boycott V Day celebrations in Moscow because of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine… so much for statesmanship and concern for historical accuracy. Similarly, there is outrage and mockery when Russian soldiers are filmed in Ukraine while Russia issues denials, and there is scandal at the breach of international law that the ‘little green men’ represent but when Western troops are found operating in secret in other countries such as Libya or Pakistan, there is no problem, no cartoons, no talk of ‘little green men’. European values are often touted as the unifying factor of the EU’s ‘unity in diversity’ project but when eastern Europeans vote against gay rights or western Europeans vote in xenophobic parties, when the death penalty is praised in one place or corruption keeps a leader in power in another, the narrative of the common values does not go away… the end of the UK’s membership of the EU was supposed to be the harbinger of multiple catastrophes from economic collapse to the erupting of wars across the continent – at least according to BBC’s ‘documentaries’ on the matter – and yet things simply went on as usual. Last but not least, one of the myths propagated by Western historical revisionists is that the EU brought with it peace to the continent: this is an outright lie which ignores that other parts of the world have been at peace without the EU or more simply that without a common security and defence policy until the 90s it was the sheer will of the states that kept Europe at peace, or that indeed, it still does today.

Then again, most citizens don’t study History so if the new truth is not canon now, it will be for the next generation.


Permalink 1 Comment

The Problem With “Zero Problem Neighborhood”

March 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Turkey’s MFA

While changes began in the foreign policy domain right from the onset of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, it was only in his second term and after the nomination of Ahmet Davutoğlu that Turkey’s foreign policy acquired a more “independent” flavor. Until now, Davutoğlu has been lauded for his “zero problem neighborhood” vision but as things stand today, there seems to be little merit for that praise.

Foreign affairs is one of those portfolios with peculiar pros and cons: there can be plenty of popularity gains for a foreign minister, who gets to socialize with international leaders and opinion makers, but there is also the inherent uncertainty of securing results as diplomacy depends on at least two interlocutors and the government he belongs to is but one of them.

That said, it is one thing for a particular diplomatic initiative to founder into political oblivion, it is another altogether to turn a would be close ally into a soon to be mortal enemy as was the case recently in Turkish-Syrian relations.

No one expected diplomats or politicians to predict the Arab spring but when dealing with an authoritarian regime, a crackdown on a potential uprising is a policy option implied in any dictator’s job description. Yet Turkey backtracked in its relations with Damascus.

Before Syria though there was Libya, where Turkey had also attempted to improve relations.

Here Ankara secured several profitable contracts for Turkish companies and Turkish diplomats hoped Libya would become—through the brother leader’s petrodollar sponsored political and charity ties below the Sahara—Turkey’s gateway to Africa.

Erdoğan, the humanitarian who now lectures Bashar al-Assad and Benjamin Netanyahu on human rights, had little compunction in accepting in 2010 the “Muammar Gaddafi Human Rights Award”—which he refused to return even after the Libyan revolt.

Confronted with Libya’s uprising, Turkey’s diplomacy failed to react, resigning itself to merely observing Western powers—from whom it had sought equidistance—breed a rebellion that would destroy the regime Turkey had so patiently cultivated

What could Ankara say? That Turkey had economic interests it wished to safeguard? Surely not as Turkey was then an adamant proponent of human rights after chastising Israel for its treatment of Palestinians in the wake of the Gaza flotilla incident. It couldn’t possibly now adopt a pragmatic speech favoring a dictator who referred to his own people as “rats.”

There was also the attempt at multilateral diplomacy in the United Nations Security Council earlier last year, where Turkey teamed up with Brazil to promote an alternate compromise between Iran and the West concerning the former’s nuclear program.

This too failed and Turkey, whose diplomats were rumored to be seeking to include Ankara in a potential Security Council permanent members expansion, was humiliated on the international stage. Both Iran and the West hardened their respective positions and ignored Turkey.

The very Iran that Davutoğlu and Erdoğan had wooed, by remaining largely silent during the Green movement’s protests against the ayatollahs, by promoting bilateral trade while the West embargoed and by engaging Islamist movements such as Hamas, rewarded Turkey’s “friendship” by supporting Syria’s crackdown, in defiance of the Turkish Government’s appeals for reform, and by promoting in Iraq a government headed by the Shī’ah Nouri Al-Maliki against Ankara’s preferred Sunni candidate Ayad Allawi.

Syrian army during operations in Bekaa valley, Lebanon

Maliki is another problem as Iraq has been publicly supportive of Assad and was even touted to mediate between Syria and the West. Iraq, a country until recently half occupied by American troops and Iranian agents; a country just barely rebuilding its economic infrastructure, is now apparently more influential in the Middle East than Turkey.

Still, the Middle East is a tough neighborhood and surely Ankara’s goodwill would have paid off in less tumultuous surroundings. If it did though, it was not in Europe in spite of the fact that Davutoğlu has travelled extensively and worked tirelessly to bring to fruition his new foreign policy vision.

Apart from the all but suspended—courtesy of France and Germany—accession bid to the European Union, Ahmet Davutoğlu enacted a “football diplomacy” with Armenia to mend ties and ease tensions, visited Greece offering to delay Turkey’s pursuit of Greek debt as a good faith gesture and developed links with the Russian defense and energy industries.

Of course what was gained with Russia was disparaged when Turkey decided to hold military exercises with China outside of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s purview, sidelining Moscow, and more recently by seeking to isolate Syria against Russia’s wishes.

Relations with Armenia have gone nowhere largely because of the same old obstacles which had prevented it before—the unwillingness to recognize the Armenian genocide and Turkey’s preference for its fellow Turkic Azeris in any conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Finally, Greece has shown its appreciation for Turkish openings by continuing to support Greek Cyprus in its political and energetic disputes with Turkey and by moving quickly to sign mutual defense guarantees with Israel following the Israeli-Turkish rift.

Bad blood between Tel Aviv and Ankara is also not entirely one sided in blame. The Israeli commandos did lose their cool on board the Mavi Marmara (right) but Erdoğan milked the media outrage over the flotilla deaths as much as he could and moved quickly to identify Israel as a “regional threat”—hardly the actions of an ally and far from the proper reaction to what was always described as a “diplomatic incident.”

One should, on the other hand, not assign the onus for strained American-Turkish relations to the AKP Government. The United States Congress’ recognition of the Armenian genocide and the Bush Administration’s failure to curb the activities of Kurdish militants in Iraqi Kurdistan were what caused the strain. But if anyone deserves credit for repairing them, that someone is President Barack Obama, who made Turkey a personal priority, not Prime Minister Erdoğan.

When confronted by such principles as national interest and balance of power being applied by its interlocutors, Turkey’s “zero problem neighborhood” doctrine has been found wanting. Time now for some reflection on the part of Ankara’s leadership and those who made its case.

(Originally published in the Atlantic Sentinel)

Permalink 1 Comment

Tales from the Shia Crescent

August 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Halford McKinder seems to be quite popular in both Tehran and Damascus these days. Several reports have recently emerged about a new strategy developing in the shia governments which consists of an alliance with Russia and Turkey – which implies autonomy from and circumvention of the West – in order to secure a new geopolitical order.

This alliance would permit the ‘heartland’ powers not to rely on sea lanes and control the pipelines which flow through Eurasia. By supplying Europe and China through land, more dangerous and hostile routes through the sea could thus be avoided and allow the four allies unfettered influence in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Allegedly, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been active in the promotion of what he designates as the ‘Four Seas Strategy’, a plan to unite the energetic future of the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean and their respective pipeline networks under the quadrilateral leadership of Moscow, Ankara, Tehran and of course Damascus.

In the Mediterranean, the natural gas to be found off the Levantine coast as well as the oil tankers coming out of the Suez would thus be diverted to the Syrian and Turkish coastal pipeline hubs and carried expediently to the Balkans and central Europe using preferably the South Stream network. In the Black Sea, Turkey and Russia would control the oil flowing through the Baku-Tbilisi pipeline and the trans-Caucasian infrastructure and secure the supply of Central Asian oil and gas to Europe. The Caspian Sea would be protected by the Russo-Iranian tandem which would ensure the eastwards flow of Iranian, Caspian and Central Asian fossil fuels to China and India. Finally the Persian Gulf would form the final source of oil reserves to be expediently supplied through Iran to Turkish and Russian pipelines as well as to the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

Turkey is the naval hegemon of the eastern Mediterranean and with Russia considerably reinforcing its Black Sea fleet with Mistral class vessels and the refurbishing of the Tartus naval installations in Syria for use of the Russian Fleet’s 5th squadron, any potential rivals of Moscow or Ankara would feel dissuaded from intervention.

If ever this vision came into being, such an alliance would top all geopolitical arrangements on the planet: bearing more military might than OPEC, more energetically autonomous than NATO. Extending throughout the Russian steppes, the Anatolian valleys and the Iranian mountains hardly could any external entity threaten the use of force.

The basic idea is to replicate the past forte of the Muslim world: intermediacy. By controlling the trade routes, this ‘heartland bloc’ would rival, and keep at bay, any and all external superpowers: America by containment, China and India by co-option.

But the very fact that such a pact would wield insurmountable strength should hint at the unlikelihood of its inception; like many such concepts, if it sounds too good be true, it usually is.

An alliance should always be based on objective interests but the most enduring alliances are the ones that include normative bonds. While NATO was formed against the Soviet threat, the Atlantic philosophical links helped its maintenance throughout and even after the Cold War. The same can be said of the Treaty of Windsor or the Saudi-Pakistani alliance.

This is the safe rule – to stand up to one’s equals,

to behave with deference towards one’s superiors,

and to treat one’s inferiors with moderation‘.

– History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides

This proposition however ignores any such links beyond a desire for autonomy from the Washington Consensus. Iran, Turkey and Russia are roughly equivalent in power and historical rivals competing for the same areas of influence. Only an extremely powerful threat would bring such rivals together; the USSR, a universalist superpower and successor state to the old Russian Empire was such a threat and caused Tehran and Ankara to join efforts in its containment. The US however are not. American influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia is not unilateral and in many cases relies on regional interlocutors such as Turkey and Russia – lest we forget their bases’ availability to the USAF. While the American navy keeps naval supremacy in all oceans and seas, Washington’s power is waning and Secretary Gates is conducting massive expenditure cuts which will on the medium term imply compromises in the global naval hegemony of the US Navy. Given this state of affairs Russia and Turkey have no need to affront the remaining superpower for they possess enough leverage as it is. Not to even mention that Russia would hardly consent to dependency on Islam.

The al-Assad plan seems ultimately to be wishful thinking. If for no other reason the notion has been advertised by Damascus and Tehran but has had little resonance in more ambiguous Ankara and Moscow.

The shias’ fundamental errors? Anti-Americanism – the nature of Iran’s regime is not a major hindrance for cooperation with the US, blind hostility towards America is – and ignorance of the dynamics of multipolarism.

Permalink 6 Comments

Whirling Dervish

July 31, 2010 at 7:18 pm (tWP - M. Silva & I. David) (, , , , , , , , , )

In the past 14th of July Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was present at a conference in Lisbon’s Orient Museum.

In his presentation Mr. Davutoğlu put forth his view for the Turkish Republic’s foreign policy. For the authors of this blog, his perspective did not do much to stave off the spectre of universalism.

Some of his first remarks gave us hope: he spoke of ‘historical depth’ and how old nations perceive the world differently than new ones. He spoke also of the need to reach a balance between security and freedom which is nothing but sensible. Turkey has much to gain from such a view since Mr. Davutoğlu’s historicist parameters would allow Ankara to subtly establish a sphere of influence around it. A balance between security and freedom seems to be another way of phrasing a tolerance for the Middle East’s absence of a very liberal tradition – and thus a way for Turkey to be able to engage with this region.

This ‘soft power’ approach would permit Turkey to pursue a more independent policy and ultimately to give it a platform for potential major power status.

But his next remarks diverted somewhat from this generally wise approach. Mr. Davutoğlu went on to point out the plight of the Bosniaks as example of Turkey’s ‘historical responsibility’ and inalienable obligation to become involved in conflicts occurring far from its borders. Turkey Ahmet Davutoğlu said, was inherently involved in the Balkan wars or the Karabakh conflict due to its links to the Bosniak, Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples. In an era of globalisation, interdependence and interconnectivity mean that Turkey cannot insulate itself from conflicts – he ‘neglected’ to mention “in Turkey’s sphere of influence” but we’ll make up for that – and the flight of these peoples to Turkey during and after the crisis serves only to prove that point.

In a more post-modern tone, the Turkish MFA declared that it is to be Turkey’s duty to diffuse crisis before they occur and to pursue whenever possible a ‘zero problem neighbourhood’. This statement presents several grave misconceptions: Mr. Davutoğlu – if speaking earnestly – seems to dismiss the concept of contiguous friction and how it recurrently defines the path of states. Strictly historically speaking at least, Persia Russia or Egypt have made for difficult bedfellows. He is also apparently oblivious to the consequences of an involvement of all states in the various conflicts which entertain the planet, should they perceive stake-holding as having as citizens major migrant communities. This is a quite cosmopolitan world afterall… Just as it was not mentioned that interdependence, even if honestly abided by, would always favour the state controlling the biggest market, which for that same reason is unlikely to keep an adjacent orbit together for long.

The authors of this blog next inquired Minister Davutoğlu where the line between interdependence and interference in the internal affairs of states should be drawn. This was perhaps the most disappointing part of the event for while complementing the pertinence of the question, Mr. Davutoğlu’s reply address defaulted on a direct answer. Ever the diplomat he did address our examples of China and Israel to complement China and chastise Israel; the former for keeping the dialogue open, the latter for doing the opposite. We will not of course refer to an obvious Cypriot parallel but it suffices to point out that it is difficult to imagine how Israel could have been more deferential to Turkey in the weeks following the ‘”freedom” flotilla’ incident and that Israeli intransigence in regards to Ankara is most unlikely given the circumstances. The one conclusion to be had is that all those who do not accommodate Turkey’s version of soft power will probably find interdependence increasingly difficult and find themselves ever more ostracised.

Israel however should be viewed as an asset by Ankara. Not just for its balancing of potential rivals like Egypt and Syria but also for its cultural unwillingness to compete with Turkey for a Byzantine sphere of influence. The optimist estimate might be that Turkey may be preparing itself to use Israel as China does the DPRK: as a convenient troublemaker under leash.

On a wider view, no statesmen outside Moscow or Tehran will mind Ankara’s new ‘near abroad’ policy so long as it remains secular. If Turkey’s regional appeal loses its temporal flavour though, Mr. Davutoğlu should bear in mind how little appetite the world powers have for a post-modern universalist caliphate.

Permalink Leave a Comment

‘Strategic Depth’ ?…

June 11, 2010 at 8:47 am (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ankara has now clearly inverted its geopolitical priorities and chosen to realign. It distanced itself from US first in 2003 when it refused to allow America’s second front in Iraqi Freedom. The US Congress recognized the Armenian genocide and made things worse and then the Bush administration chose not to sanction Turkey’s operations against the PKK in Iraq’s Kurdistan – thus sealing the break. The friction with Israel was a mere consequence of Ankara’s new prerogatives and not a consequence of Jerusalem’s intransigence.

Throughout the Ottoman years, Istanbul attempted to revive the Roman and Byzantine polities by controlling the Mediterranean. The Turks never went beyond the ‘Eastern Empire’ though and depended on occasional ententes with European powers in order to keep their naval empire. They allied with France against the Habsburgs, the British against the Russians, etc..

Fierce rivalry with Persia and Russia were constants and the alliance with the Central Powers in World War I was meant to reacquire lost territory in the Balkans and the Caucasus while balancing the power of the west European naval powers.

Kemalist Turkey chose to coalesce with the Allies – the core of what would become NATO – in order to resist the advances of the USSR (with CenTO/Baghdad Pact) and the Arab emergence. The Atlantic Alliance allowed Turkey to preserve control of the Bosporus, it kept Ankara technologically updated and it helped protect the Turkish secular regime. The balancing act in the Middle East brought the pro-American Turkey, Israel and Iran to odds with the revolutionary Arabs – Baath Arabs in Iraq and Syria, pan-Arabist in Egypt and Libya.

A number of factors have changed: the demographics of Turkey have evolved in such a way that the kemalist secular elite was slowly outnumbered by the Islamic masses and the redistribution of power following the 1989 shift, after a couple of decades of American preeminence, has now given place to a multipolar world. Russia is no longer a superpower, the Arab League is powerless and divided, Iraq is destroyed and incapable of projecting force and the Islamic Republic has been weakened by decades of embargo and isolation.

In this context, Turkey has little to fear from its traditional regional rivals. Ankara has even gone to the limit of co-opting a financially weak Greece and staging a reconciliation with Russia dependent Armenia. The European Union’s postponement of and malaise with a possible Turkish accession has only motivated the Anatolian power to pursue an autonomous path, one which has also led to a magnanimous sentiment for Muslims and an empathy towards the Turkic peoples. Palestine and China’s Turkic Xinjiang thus becoming the causes of a new soft power projection approach, Turkey’s Ostpolitik – or should we say Doğupolitik.

While revealing of the new reality, Turkey’s actions are not entirely sensible. How far does populism affect this new stance? How far does prejudice?

On the long term, to keep regional rivals close and potential external allies at a distance makes little sense, not to mention that it would have little to fear from Israel in the Near East given that while a regional power, Israel’s traditional antagonism with the Arab world would never allow it to vie for regional dominance or hegemony. Quite to the contrary, Turkey’s anti-Israel stance might bring the Jewish lobby in the US, closer to the Greek and Armenian ones in a detrimental fashion to Turkey. Not to even mention all the dire consequences that a state with separatism problems might face after endorsing the Kosovo and Palestine – and dishonestly, Turkestan – secessions.

If true that for example in Mauritania, the influence of the Aqaba Concert was replaced with that of the Tehran-Ankara tandem it is also true that any expert knows that such a shift is one coup d’état away from historical oblivion.

It is in this context that the latest round of sanctions against Iran is successfully voted in the UN with the opposition of Turkey and Brazil.

No one doubts Brasilia and Ankara are rising powers but their self-sufficient foreign policy has just rewarded them a diplomatic humiliation. Is a separate dialogue with Iran a better policy than coordination with the EU3 the US and Russia? Is tolerance towards the Shia Crescent – which clashes with the westerners in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf – wise? Is it rational to band together regional powers against world powers? Is this …’strategic depth’?

Permalink 5 Comments