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Spring 2014
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Claire Berlinski
Notes on the Turkish Troubles « Back to Story

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lies,lies,lies and lies...
Do you realy find the official position of the US Government surprising Ms. Berlinski?
If so you must be really naive.
This is typical the typical Anglo-Saxon approach prevalent since British colonialism carried on by the USA since the collapse of the British Empire.
The apprach can be summarized as "Democracy and freedom and all its virtues are for your homelands- i.e. for the USA or for the UK."
Elsewhere, where your government's political interests (be it for natural resources to be exploited or else) the USA does not hesitate to go hand in hand with dictators, tyrants and can easily be officially blind to all human rights violations. After all this is barely the "World of Western Civilization Interests"

Yours sincerely,

A citizen of Turkey
Siamo inondati sulle vicende Turche, ma il PM se ne fotte altamente, perché credo che in realtà né l'Amministrazione Americana né Bruxelles si metteranno contro questo governo AKP !
Per cui , mettiamoci il cuore in pace e lavoriamo come sempre sul mercato, senza prendere posizioni !
Alla fin fine, siamo molto coinvolti anche noi in Turchia , economicamente e finanziariamente, per cui non ci sono soluzioni alternative! Ciao RENATO
Egyptians have having huge anti-Morsi demonstrations. The Obama administration counseled the people not to have them. Consistently, Obama has supported those who are or who appear to be upholding more religious and anti western, anti christian doctrines. If it was the other way around in Turkey, if the people were demonstrating for more conservatism, Obama would support them. Not since the days of Carter have we seem a US president against the US and western interest like Obama is.
"Tell the truth about yoru country"?

Your not a Turk and living in Turkiye does not make you one.

A true Turk does not grovel before the West and beg for assistance. The CHP and the secular forces that kept the Turks poor and ruled one of the poorest countries in the world for 60 years are out of power.

The AK Party and PM Erdogan have helped push Turkiye into the modern ages and have created an exporting and manufacturing economic powerhouse.

The CHP and your ilk would rather have the Turks riding in wagons powered by horses and starving for good medical care than let someone with deep religious convictions control the country.
Ricciadones stance is totally in line with the US traditional policy on Turkish matters. i.e. the Turkish State can do no wrong. Greek Cypriots have witnessed this for over 40 yrs Apart from a brief arms embargo imposed by the Carter administration all US administrations act as if an invasion of Cyprus never took place and limit themselves to wishing for a solution to be found by the two communities etc. etc. The recent events in Turkey have highlighted how the average Turkish citizen has been manipulated and kept in the dark about certain events. As I realise this and see the various reactions I must admit that my view of the ordinary Turkish citizen has been highly enhanced. I was mistakenly convinced that all Turks are brainwashed nationalists without the ability to think for themselves. What a pleasant surprise to be proved wrong. There is hope for Turkey and Cyprus yet.
A startlingly well written and cogent analysis. I've been wondering about some of these same questions myself, about why the situation in Turkey seems unable to provoke even self-interest from Western powers. I wouldn't say the country is on the brink of revolution, but there is something afoot, and something that is unlikely to ebb given the youth, eloquence and persistence of the demonstrators. We need to start listening and encouraging Erdogan to do the same. Mr. Erdogan prides himself that he doesn't change his mind, but he should expect that others also share that personal quirk he so admires in himself. He's not the only one with a vision for the future of Turkey. Not by a long shot.
Yet, somehow, at the end of it all, none of this really matters.
There is no winning in the Muslim world.
You either lose control or lose by winning control.
Ultimately, a distinction sans difference.
Umm ... doesn't anyone get it? Erdogan was the one that The One declared as his closest buddy in the Muslim world.

The reality here is the disaster that Americans inflicted on themselves and everyone else by re-electing this narcissistic empty suit last November.

Is anyone waking up?
Frank Ricciardone's shining of an apparent green light on Erdoğan's state violence against peaceful protesters reminds me of April Glaspie's greenlighting of Saddam Hussein's intentions toward Kuwait. We know how that one worked out. This will not end well. Turkey no longer has a military that will protect her from the excesses of an overreaching government bent on tyranny.
David R. Graham June 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM
Why think this US admin fears the Turkish admin's wrath? Maybe they support it, fascist to fascist.
Ricciardone: "There is no difference between us and the government of Turkey and the governing party on those principles"

After you quote the ambassador you compare the principles of Erdoğan's government to the principles of the U.S., which do differ. But would it not be more likely that he meant there is no difference in principles between the Erdoğan and Obama governments and governing parties?
Claire, you are my hero. Why the silence? How can we Americans put the pressure on Mr. Obama?
DOS likes dictators of a certain stripe.

I guess Erdogan is their kind of guy.
The person currently occupying the White House is, at the very least, an Islamophile. He was raised as a Muslim during his formative years. His Marxism means any and all 'Third World'peoples have been victims of American/European imperialism. His Marxism, Islamophilia along with his own psychological defects render him a closet fan of 'Third World' strong-men, as long as they were not U.S. buddies before he assumed office. Add to this the fact that the current U.S. Middle Eastern strategy -- so far as there is one -- consists of backing Sunni Islamists and the the tepid, mealy mouthed words emanating from the Secy of State, the U.S. Ambassador and assorted other flacks is utterly unsurprising. A final note: I believe Ms. Berlinski is far too sanguine in believing that the U.S. is immune to the kind of thing that's taking place in Turkey.
Great article! one that Obama administration should read over and over again!
Excellent article. Thank you for publishing it.
Excellent article ---fair and complete
Great job--the US's silence has been really weighing on me. Now the death toll could be up to 5 with the death of Medeni Yildirim in Lice.
thanks .for the very good summary and research.
very insightful. but dont underestimate the support akp has. as a kurd living in turkey who wants nothing other than peace and security, I, my friends, my family all support AKP administration for what he has done for this country. I remember what life was like in the 90s and thats why I support AKP. I dont take to the streets for erdogan but if I see it is getting serious I will and I know dozens of people who will do the same
As a German who is interessted in American as well as in Turkish affairs and tireless spectator I have never read such comprehensive and well informed article about what was going on in Turkey. She puts the pieces of the puzzle togehter.

I was also pretty much suprised with Amb. Ricciardone's remarks after his meeting with Turkish government. Surely American administration has to revisit its stance against Turkey and has to decide whether betting on a despot is smart on the long-run. Keep in mind: Turkish youth is widely pro-Western and they are the future of this country. Berlinski's article provides a guideline for this debate.
Thank you for this important article, and for your courage in publishing it while living in a country that routinely jails journalists. Obama's failure to speak out on these events has destroyed any illusion that the U.S. goverment cares about democracy here.
If you never write another word, this column is enough contribution by one citizen to our nation to ensure the label "patriot." You have performed a wonderful service to our country by writing this.

As an American expat living in Turkey, I have been so saddened to watch the Brits and Germans clearly and without prevarication stand up for freedom. And the Brits did it with wit! Where are American values? Where is American public diplomacy creativity?

America has been worse than silent, we have appeared to be enabling the behavior and silently acquiescing. Thank you for reminding Americans what we stand for, what we should be standing for and letting our citizens and leadership know that we are alienating the college-educated, globalized secular middle-class of Turkey.

The tear gas canisters Homer City, Pennsylvania manufacture and the stun grenades Casper, Wyoming manufacture have spoken louder than ANY of our leaders to the citizens in the streets.

This Gezi generation of creative, secular young people in Turkey dissenting from their government have not only felt the sting of rejection by their own nation's leaders with dehumanizing name calling and police brutality; they are discovering the hard way that America can't be bothered to stand up for them either.

Surely our nation, America, can come up with a better response to the Gezi protests than "hmmm...police action...profit opportunity."
Claire, thanks for an excellent summary of the situation in Turkey and the US diplomatic response. I agree with your analysis that Ricciardone's pronouncements are sending the wrong message to the general Turkish population, but could it be that he is only doing what's expected of him by Washington?

Perhaps Ricciardone is keeping (as you identify) a crucial strategic ally on board? I don't condone this, but it is what dominant powers have always done in the past - keep the incumbent in power while they remain potentially useful. Better the devil you know. He seems to be talking not to the Turkish people but to the Turkish government and to Erdgogan in particular.

As I say, I don't condone this, and believe it's likely to damage relations long term and be bad for both the US and Turkey, but I'm not sure Washington cares about that in the short-term world view of Realpolitik.
The United States government is doing its best to alienate the Turkish people. Shameful behavior. They are betraying the American public as well as humanity.
John Gury, you are missing the point here....

Aydin G. I totally agree with you on your comments regarding to Turks blame everything on Americans...They love conspiracy theories involving Americans and Israel...Too bad most of my nation feel that way. Instead of holding their elected officials responsible, they blame West..

Excellent analysis Claire...
Excellent summary and analysis about what is going on in Turkey from a journalist who lives in Istanbul.
One important point you made about "American Conspiracy Theory" is interesting. Even educated and liberal Turks believe that America holds the leash on every Turkish Government including AKP. I know because I have many liberal friends in Turkey and they all believe it.

This is unfortunate and not true.The "Young Turks" finally took their own civic action at Taksim Square instead of blaming America for all their political problems.
Turkish Government has become a brutal police state.
European Union did the right thing to condemn the police brutality and arrests of peaceful demonstrators. I wish US would come with same forceful statement or condemnation.
"President Obama surely knows that the current unrest in Turkey, which has left at least four dead, 12 blind, and some 7,000 injured, many critically, does not remotely compare—as a humanitarian disaster or as a threat to American interests—to the unremitting carnage in Syria; to the urgency of evaluating the meaning of Iran’s elections and what they portend for its nuclear program; to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq; to our imminent defeat in Afghanistan; or to at least half a dozen other foreign policy crises of greater moment, not least in the Pacific. " My god, what an example of a monumentally bad sentence.