Claire Berlinski indicts the Obama administration for its limp response to the violent suppression of dissent in Turkey in this article.She explains, in the first eight paragraphs, why Turkey is important to the US and lays out what at least our ambassador to Turkey, if not the President, should done. Then she recaps the events of the resistance and contrasts our flaccid response with the vigorous denunciations of the police violence by European leaders. Finally she assesses the damage to our moral standing as a beacon of freedom, and points out how negative Turkish perceptions of the US have been re-enforced by our tepidity. (thanks to Patricia)
Notes on the Turkish TroublesAmerica’s muted response is both confusing and disheartening. Claire Berlinski, City Journal[....]
So yes, without a doubt, Turkey is a strategically important country, one that we very much want to keep in the American orbit, particularly since it appears that we’re about to do something mysterious in Syria—or at least so reports the Los Angeles Times, which claims that the CIA and U.S. special forces have been training Syrian rebels on Turkish bases. What is U.S. policy on Syria, and what is it supposed to achieve? Who knows?
For all of the above reasons, the United States should not alienate Turkey. And America and Turkey, allies since 1952, have stuck together through much darker times. Turkey wasn’t a libertarian paradise before the rise of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The United States has no good reason to intervene in Turkey’s internal affairs. Turkey’s problems are Turkey’s to solve.
But there is one small thing I do expect. I expect the American ambassador to tell the Turkish people the truth about our country. There is no earthly reason for him publicly to lie or prevaricate about what makes the United States an extraordinary country, unique in the world, for all its failures. There is a particular urgency to telling the truth in a country like this, moreover, where lies are spread daily about the United States by the government, the press, and by Turkey’s sycophantic intellectuals.”
Paragraph 22: “Erdoğan considers his friendship with President Obama far more valuable than that with any European leader. It was clear to all that the only hope of controlling Erdoğan was a call from the White House, one that unequivocally put the hammer down. Many Turks asked me hopefully whether the United States would now “let” Turkey have a new government. (It is widely believed here that nothing happens in Turkey without the United States’ approval.) But Obama said nothing, and the embassy remained as enigmatic and aloof as the elderly Greta Garbo.”
Paragraph 25: “Turks are genuinely confused and misinformed about the United States. After all, they’re told daily that what they are experiencing is normal, and that this is what all “advanced democracies” do. It would have been better by far to say nothing than to confirm these lies and better still to explain that in the United States, you’re unlikely ever to be arrested for demonstrating peacefully, nor will you ever be arrested for anything you say, and that it is very much our hope that Turks will one day experience this extraordinary freedom that we cherish.”
P. 30: “From where I sit, the United States’ flabby, indulgent attitude toward this cruelty appears both craven and strategically idiotic. It is in neither America’s nor Turkey’s interest for Turkey to go down this path. Our silence has confirmed the worst suspicions of everyone but the AKP base, hardly our natural friends. We have confirmed their fondest suspicions about us—to wit, that we’re fools.”
P. 31: “The United States may be permanently alienating the next generation of Turks, the ones with whom we really do want to be friends. When rumors that kids who are getting brutalized have been screaming, “Please help us, Obama” circulate over the Internet, followed by statements from our ambassador that the United States and Turkey share “the same ideas” about freedom and democracy, it confirms every suspicious instinct Turks have about the gulf between what America says about human rights and what we mean. When the Turkish government publicly boasts that it has the United States on its side—well, you don’t have to live here to guess the impact.”