According to a senior Turkish official, the Turkish-American bilateral relationship is enjoying a "golden era." "Despite some disagreements on certain issues, our cooperation with Washington is satisfactory; we understand each other's differences and concentrate on how we can further help each other to contribute to the regional and global peace," the official said.
Roughly speaking, there were two separate developments that made Ankara and Washington come closer in such an unprecedented way. The first, Turkey's acceptance of stationing NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A cautionary tale of cost-benefit analysis.... 's early warning radar system in its territories; the second, the stance it has taken regarding the Arab Spring, even from the very early days of this wave of reforms that has shaken the entire Arab World.
Turkey's joining of NATO's military operation against Libya's Muammar Qadaffy ... who is now deader than a rock... and leading the international community in both Egypt and Syria to topple their defiant tyrannical leaders were very positively received by the United States. Last but not least, a change in Turkey's language vis a vis Iran's nuclear program could also be added to this list. The two countries are also closely working in international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
Cementing economic and political ties with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani ... hereditary head of the Kurdish Democratic Party, maybe a little too close to the Medes and the Persians for most people's tastes... in line with Washington's decade-old advice should also not be underestimated when citing reasons why the U.S. favors Turkey as a credible, regional ally.
Many recall how tense the dialogue was between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barrack Obama at their June 2010 meeting in Toronto. "That meeting was the turning point," official remembered, "Obama was astonished to see an outspoken, self-confident leader who was very much capable of defending the causes he believed in, but apart from everything Erdoğan's honesty amazed him."
No doubt there is a good sense of dialogue between Obama-Erdoğan and Clinton-Davutoğlu, the two countries' foreign ministers.
Every good thing has an end though: presidential elections are looming and there is no guarantee that Obama will stay in power for another four years. "Not only Turkey, but the entire world should work for Obama," the official said on condition of anonymity. "This is very important for the world's peace."
In the event of the election of a Republican candidate, probably Mitt Romney ...whose real first name is actually, no kidding, Willard, was governor of Massachussetts and is currently the front-runner for president on the Publican ticket. He is the son of the former governor of Michigan, George Romney, who himself ran for president after saving American Motors from failure, though not permanently. Romney's foot is in an ideological bucket because of Romneycare, a state-level experiment that should have been a warning against Obamacare if anyone had been paying attention. Romney's charisma is best defined as soporific, which is probably why he is leading the Publican field... , a drastic change in Washington's foreign policy is very likely, away from Obama's non-interventionist multilateral understanding. For many, an Israeli attack against suspected Iranian nuclear sites would be much more likely in such an event, which would put Turkey into a very risky position as well. (It is also interesting to see the change: Traditional Turkish foreign policy always preferred a Republican president, an attitude which was challenged by George W. Bush.)
However, we can't all be heroes. Somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by... under a Republican President, the real risk is on the bilateral scale. It is no secret that Republicans are very much annoyed with Ankara's growing relations with the Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason,, its defending of Iran's nuclear program and its isolating of Israel and Armenia in the region. That's why these days Ankara is considering reaching out to some prominent and influential Republican groups to explain the government's policies in an explicit way.
""Despite some disagreements on certain issues, our cooperation with Washington is satisfactory; we understand each other's differences and concentrate on how we can further help each other to contribute to the regional and global peace," the official said."
Translation from the Turkish: "He closes his eyes,puts his hands over his ears and goes 'la-la-la'"
Well it was partially the shift from Turkey's secular government to one a bit more Islamic combined with a similar change in the US. No wonder the countries got along poorly during the transition but get along better now.
A Turkish friend of mine who has lived in the United States for many years once told me an amusing experience of hers. After more than a decade in the land of freedom, she came back to Istanbul for a few weeks. While strolling the streets, she inadvertently smiled at people with whom she came face to face. In return, though, she did not get the polite response that she was used to. Instead, the women she smiled at looked surprised, and worse, the men she smiled at looked aroused.
"I realized that those men took my smile as a sexual hint," my friend told me. "One of them even began to follow me in a very excited mood!"
Soon, my friend wisely adapted to the Turkish manners: In this country, you don't smile at strangers. You simply look the other way, and, if you come eye to eye, you try to look tough.
For a while, and as a sociologist-wannabe, I have been wondering why this is the case. Gradually, I have become convinced that this no-smile attitude tells us a lot about the nature of Turkish society: As surveys also prove, this is one of the places on earth in which people trust each other the least. Hence, they can easily see other members of society as potential threats or even enemies.
But why? Are Turks inherently rude, antisocial or nasty people?
Not really. Quite the contrary, Turks are famous for their hospitality and generosity, and they are also known to be very loyal to their friends.
But there is a catch here: Turks are very good to people that they know well, such as their family and kin. Yet, for the people with whom they are less familiar, their attitude dramatically changes. In other words, if they see a familiar face on the street, they go out of their way to show affection. For unfamiliar faces, however, they have nothing but suspicion.
This social reality of Turkey seems to tell us a lot about the nature of its politics as well: Here, every political camp is filled with contempt and paranoia for the other camps. (In the 1970s, this led the country to near civil war; luckily, there is much less violence today.) In political arguments, sides blame each other for being not only wrong and misguided, but also treacherous and devious. Quite amusingly, pundits in every political camp argue that the opposing camp serves some evil foreign power that is cooking up malicious plans against the beloved homeland. They are bitterly opposed, in other words, without realizing how similar they are.
But then again, why? Why so much distrust and hate?
My short answer to this big question is that, first, Turkey is a "transitional society," one that is in the critical middle of a long transformation from a traditional (rural, agrarian and communal) to a modern (urban, technical, and societal) nation. So, traditional mores are eroding, whereas new ones are not fully matured. (Your grandfather knew how to say "salamun alaikum" to his familiar neighbors; you don't know what to do with all those unknown individuals in colossal cities.)
Secondly, the brutal authoritarianism of the Turkish state has made matters much worse, by constantly suppressing large segments of society and explaining away every trouble in the country as the product of "enemies within and without." While most Kemalists still believe in that lunacy, the conservatives who oppose them seem to have taken their share as well.
So, is there no hope for the future?
No, there is. In fact, things are much better now than they were a few decades ago. Moreover, they will probably improve as democracy brings more openness, and free market capitalism breaks communitarian barriers. In a few decades, therefore, I think you will see more Turks with a smiling face.
Sounds like yet another example of the medievalism of the Muslim world mentioned in the other post. With the defeat of the non-sectarian Kemalists Turkey seems to be moving back into the sectarian, tribal and ethnic divisions that Ataturk tried to wean the country from.
Turks are very good to people that they know well, such as their family and kin. Yet, for the people with whom they are less familiar, their attitude dramatically changes. In other words, if they see a familiar face on the street, they go out of their way to show affection. For unfamiliar faces, however, they have nothing but suspicion.
Big deal. you can say the same thing about the Northeast US.