Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Only Healthy Man in Europe

Very good quote from Abdullah Gul in a NY Times article today. 

“Turkey used to be known as the sick man of Europe, whereas Turkey now is the only healthy man of Europe.”

Another other good passages:
In a flurry of speeches and meetings — and one meeting that did not happen — the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, defended his country’s close ties to Iran, proclaimed Turkey’s intention to become a leader in the Muslim world, and spurned an attempt to mend fences with Israel over its deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza.
Turkey’s muscle-flexing has left the United States uneasy...

I've always been a bit of a cheerleader for Turkey.  Partly it's because I find Ottoman and Byzantine history fascinating.  More seriously, Turkey is perhaps the country in the best position to bring a really new perspective to the west.  We talk a good talk about human rights and multilateralism but with the exception of Japan we haven't done a great job bringing other countries fully into our club.  Sooner or later we're going to have to walk the walk and Turkey is a very good ally.  They've long been part of NATO and their history shows a strong desire to be recognized as part of the west.

Of course, there's still a ways for them to go economically and there are some unresolved human rights issues.  Still, they have a lot to bring as a partner.  They're younger than most western countries and their cultural differences are an advantage.  New ideas can only help progress.

This is why we should be pleased they're being more assertive, even if issues like their relations with Iran steps on our toes a little.  Equal partners never see quite eye to eye, some room has to be given for a degree of independence.  It's a very good thing to see friendly countries showing a bit more assertiveness, we should encourage this while still emphasizing the importance of shared interests.  The US will need allies more than ever as other countries rise in power, Turkey will be one of these players and is one that we have a strong historical relationship with.  We need to recognize that moving forward our allies will be stronger and show more independence, there will be more give and take in these international relationships.  This is a good thing and not something that should make the US "uneasy."  Though it would be nice if Europe would help more on integrating Turkey.

No comments:

Post a Comment