Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not a Turkish Delight















Apropos my previous post ("War of the Worlds") you may have noticed that the German map that is based on Samuel Huntington's forecast about the coming Clash of Civilizations placed America's close ally in the Middle East (and a military partner of Israel), Turkey, in the future Islamic Alliance (painted in purple) that will be opposed to the U.S.-led Western Bloc (in blue). And that is probably a safe prediction based on the way the Turkish Zeitgeist looks and sounds these days -- very anti-American, very anti-Western and a bit anti-Jewish (you notice that I avoid using the term "anti-Semitic" here). Indeed, according to the New York Times the most popular movie in Turkey today is a local production "Valley of the Wolf: Iraq" that seemed to have been directed by Osama Bin Ladin. According to the Times:
The crowd cheered, clapped and whistled as the Turkish agent plunged the knife into the chest of the enemy commander.
"Valley of the Wolves — Iraq," which opened last week in movie theaters in Turkey, Austria and Germany, is a Rambo-like action story involving Turkish gunmen who seek revenge against a tyrannical occupying army.
In this version, however, at $10 million the most expensive movie ever made in Turkey, the enemy is no oppressive third-world dictatorship. The commander's name is Sam — as in uncle — and the opposing forces are the Americans, who are being punished for offenses against Turkish as well as Iraqi pride and honor.
The commander, Sam William Marshall, played by an American actor, Billy Zane, is a sociopath, killing people without a second's thought and claiming that he is doing God's will. While fictional, some of the movie is based in part on real events, and many of the scenes elicit knowing looks from the audience. The opening sequence portrays an incident that made headlines here in 2003, when a group of Turkish special forces soldiers in Iraq were taken into custody by American marines. The Turks, mistaken for insurgents, were handcuffed and held with hoods over their heads, which rankled many Turks.
Other scenes show ruthless marines killing Iraqis and soldiers mistreating inmates at Abu Ghraib prison, as well as an American Jewish surgeon, played by Gary Busey, who takes what look like kidneys from inmates during surgery to New York, London and Israel — all, according to the screenwriter, Bahadir Ozdener, inspired by real events.

And the Washington Post reports that:
In "Valley of the Wolves: Iraq," U.S. soldiers shoot small children at point-blank range, harvest kidneys from Iraqi prisoners for shipment to Tel Aviv, blow a Muslim cleric out of his minaret and, to top it all off, display utter contempt for Turkish foreign policy. The feature film set a box office record in its first weekend, after opening in more theaters than any movie in Turkish history.

The Post also notes that "Valley of the Wolf: Iraq:" (see movie's web site)
also reflects deep skepticism about U.S. intentions, which opinion polls show is common among Muslim countries. In one scene, a man wearing the black coat, fedora and earlocks of a Hasidic Jew gets up and walks out of a restaurant moments before Polat reveals that the place is wired to explode. The moment slyly evokes not one but two conspiracy theories often heard in Muslim societies: that no Jews died in the World Trade Center because they had warning, and that Israeli agents are hard at work in northern Iraq, helping the Kurds.

And to add to all of that, Tony Karon mentions on Rootless Cosmpolitan that "Turkish prime minister Erdogan is reported to have seen the movie and recommended it to friends, while his wife attended a premiere and described it as 'a beautiful film.'" This is a guy who had visited the White House and whom U.S. officials regard as a close friend of the United States... And Tony Karon adds:
You can already imagine the Turkish producers weighing up sequels: A Turkish Rambo blows up Israel’s West Bank wall and restores Palestinian access to Jerusalem, or a Turkish James Bond character infiltrates the Danish press and uncovers a neo-Nazi conspiracy to use cartoons to provoke a war between Islam and the West. The possibilities are endless.

Now... add to these movie reviews the fact that Anti-American novels, including one that portrays a war between the United States and Turkey (to be followed by one about a war between Israel and Turkey), have been selling briskly, and that (bet you didn't know) Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was a best seller in Turkey last year, and here is what one is forced to consider: If these are the setiments towards the United States in a country that has a viable democratic system, that is staunchly pro-Western and pro-American (it's a member of NATO and hopes to join the European Union), imagine what are the attitudes towards America and the West in the rest of the Middle East. This suggests to me that contrary to the wishful thinking in Washington, the demonstrations against the "offending" cartoons weren't the work of anti-American political instigators but reflected the way many (most?) people in the Middle East (and in other parts of the Moslem world) feel about the United States and the West. The reports in the Times and the Post suggest that the case of Turkey is different and that the current anti-Americanism there has to do with the Turkish opposition to the Iraq War and in particular to what is perceived as American backing for Kurdish independence. And you can make a similar argument to explain what's happening the Arab World where the hostility towards Washington could be seens as a backlash against American foreign policy, including the invasion of Iraq and the support for Israel. I hope that these kind of analysis that dismisses Huntington's thesis is correct. But as someone who is a critic of U.S. policy in the Middle East and who has never been a Clash-of-Civilization buff, I'm starting to get worried that against the backdrop of the Iraq occupation (including the alliance with the Kurds), the rise of Hamas, and the confrontation with Iran, Huntington's vision has acquired the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ironically, U.S. push for democracy in the Middle East is only helping to energize militant Islamic groups that have now come to power in Iraq and Palestine. In this context, Karen Hughes' propaganda campaign in the Middle East is probably nothing more than a waste of U.S. dollars, if not a bad joke. If we'll lose Turkey (and I hope we don't), there is no way in the world that we are going to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the people in the Middle East.

9 comments:

Gothamimage said...

Leon - if you stop by our blog, you will note the current subject of our is well known for being one of stongest advocates for better US-Turking relations. Indeed, he was notable for lobbying on their behalf. So what went wrong?

Isn' this problem, not one between the Turking people and the American people, but one caused by a cynical policy?

There is no reason why we should not have good relations with Turkey. In fact, you have to wonder, if our willingness to take their side in various disputes actually hurt us, because from the Turkish side it was clear that we were doing so, not because we believed in their position, but because it was seen as tactically wise and strategically neat.

Meanwhile, we ignored Turkish public opinion. How lomg can we maintain that Turkey or Jordon supports us , when all polls show that 90percent plus of their population do not? Did this opposition in Turkey at least earn us good will in Greece? Nope.

Instead of cultivating relationships between our well heeled lobbyists and Turkey's secualizd establishment, do you not think it would be more wise to cultivate the people of Turkey - perhaps even try to reason with them on certain issues, instead of just using bad propaganda?

If history is a guide, problems in Turkey that occur in one area, may be brought about by something else. For example, Turkey may not care s much about Kurdistan if they are accepted into the EU. But if they are not accepted (which may be more likely than anyone will admit to now), and they are forced to capitualate on Cyprus (which will be an issue -and related to US policy during Nixon and the pushing of the bad Annan deal)then, voila, they will care.
Meanwhile, Israel should be more clear about their intentions with Turkey. It is in Israel's interest to have Turkey's people, not just their elite and military, on their side. How they can help this situation come about is a tough call.

Turkey's leaders should also realize that the US public, while pro-Turkey now, can turn on a dime if any US President ever illustrated all that we have done for Turkey and then asked, "hey, why no thank you?"

Steve Sailer said...

Wait a minute -- Gary Busey plays a Jewish doctor????

What kind of casting is that?

Technomerican said...

The map shown really caught my attention. It reminds me of the "Eurabia" program I read about. Unfortunately, the map is unbelievable in that it fails to account for the Islamicisation and declining native majorities of European populations in the areas defined as Western. In large areas of the U.S., those of European ancestry and "Western" culture are in the minority now. (By 2050, "whites" (God, I hate that term.) will be in the minority in the U.S.) It is worth pointing out that open-ended legal mass-immigration policies of liberal elites across the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe will assuredly lead to non-western majorities (largely muslim) changing political alignments and foreign policies. The riots (urban insurrections, really) in France and anti-cartoon protests across western Europe are merely the beginning.

In the case of this bloody Turkish "Rambo-type" film, the backdrop in Turkish politics includes widening influence of Muslim religious parties and increasing erosion of Turkish secularism in society and government.

Unfortunately, the Turks in Germany are much the same; increasingly Islamic -- not assimilating -- not "Westernising" (becoming good little secular humanist left-wing socialists or social democrats). This is the rapidly growing segment of the German population (if one wishes to call them "German" -- a legalism but not an accurate reflection of their loyalties or cultural/political identity).

Global Paradigms said...

Gotham... Yes, Richard Perle is -- I think -- a registered lobby on behalf of Turkish interests (and btw your post is very entertaining). I think that the war in Iraq and especially the support for the Kurds there has angered all Turks (I recall that something like 90 percent of the Turks were opposed to the war). So that has certainly helped ignite a lot of hostility. There have also some long-term structural problems, including the fact that there has been demographic changes in Turkey that have brought to power an Islamist political party that unlike the old elites is less pro-Western. I really don't believe that the EU will accept them, so that will lead to more tensions with the West. At the same time, Turkey is still quite westernized so I think we can at least try to build on that.
Steve... Well... I don't think any of the "Israeli" Mossad operatives in the Munich were Jewish... And I think that in "Geisha" we have Chinese playing Japanese... So we can't complain about the Turks...
Tchnomerica...You raised some good points which explain why the Germans and the French are opposed to the entry of Turkey into the EU. I don't want to give up entirely on Turkey. I have good friends there, academics, professionals, businessmen who remain quite "bullish" about their country's western direction. It's also a powerful and assertive nation that we'll have to deal with and certainly don't want to have as an enemy (they have a strong military). Leon

Greg said...

Do you think Lebanon or Palestine should be part of Israel?

If not, then why should Turkey be part of the EU?

I am sure you will find a minor difference or distinction between the two situations to justify your completely different outcomes. However, the reality is that you probably just have a double standard that is bias by your own ethnic and religious background.

Global Paradigms said...

greg: I actually understand why the Germans and the French, and the majority of the Europeans are opposed to Turkey's entry into the EU, for the same reason that very few Americans would support an arrangement under which Mexicans would could relocate into the U.S. whenever they please. I'm really not sure about your reference to myethnic or religious background here. Re Israel Some Israelis would like to see the west bank becoming part of Israel. Greater Israel.

Istanbul-Man said...

Just to help you gentlemen with a few "insider" observations and facts:

The basic cast that constitute the theme "Valley of the Wolf" has become popular as a TV "soap opera" -- no kidding. In that show, the protagonists are "tribal" heads of some "Kurdish" families who have immigrated to Istanbul -- like millions -- and are now have a Mafia a network. Naturally, they are virile, very honorable (so honorable you'd explode with boredom), and they all get the blond and blue-eyed city girls -- who somehow always fall for them since the city boys are invaribly evil, cowardly, duplicitious, etc.

This should give you a hint as to which main "target audience" the movie version... targets.

Our local film industry has always been a joke. The "mainstream" (?) has always been at the level of... well, think of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" as an American cult classic. In fact, the public knows this and has the phrase "Turkish movie" to refer to any event with a childishly absurd plot.

Only one or two people among those I know have seen the movie. Naturally, they all walked ouf of the thing in the middle with disgust -- you know, with a "$10 million for this shit?". They all complained of its "childish absurdity". It is, to put it in a nutshell, a "Turkish movie."

However that doesn't change the fact that it has touched nerves. In fact, Leon's fears regarding "democractization" are perfectly justified here. This is the "democractic" sentiment, because -- and I'm sure Steve Sailer will only nod here -- the "demos" here is the 85-IQ average crowd.

But this process has started about 2-3 decades ago, and has gained momentum especially since the mid-80s, during Prime Minister Ozal's time, when "liberalization" in economy actually meant creating S&L scandals to grab the fragile middle-class's savings to create "business stimulus" funds which were then transferred to the mostly rich or ethnically well-connected "crony" new-comers to the cities from feudal backgrounds. In other words, the feudal elements that constituted the silent -- and mostly docilized-by-the-republic majority -- were "stimulated" to take over the bureaucracy, the cities, the industries, etc.

The result is a population explosion from 40 to 75 million, with most of the people from rural backgrounds with conservative (i.e. Islamic) cultural roots, 5-kid per family demographic growth rates, and well 80-IQ average mental capacity gradually inundating (and practically dethroning) the secular, Westernized, urban middle classes.

The truth of the matter is the Turkey that made a republican revolution was the former (Ottoman) cosmopolitan centers like Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, etc. The republican ideals (imposed top-down through Jacobin-style social engineering) didn't really penetrate the rural areas. But at least they were contained -- in their misery, and high infant mortality rates.

Then came the waves of "immigration to the urbans areas".

Had Turkey stuck with a "non-democratic" path as it did until the 50s, and continued its republican vision, maybe (only maybe) we could have been a larger variant of Greece (say with a 20 million population). Instead, we're on the road to becoming a variant of Pakistan.

Incidentally, it used to be that movies that were made for mostly the "Anatolian" (i.e. "rural") audience had the city dudes depicted as exactly like the Americans in the movie: cold, heartless, not hesitating in using violence or immoral/illegal methods, etc. I swear I'm not making this up. The "evil or spoiled rich city bastards" template have only American names and faces in this one. This should also give a hint as to whether this is entirely due to the Iraqi operation or something deeper.

By the way, one way to check what this movie signifies in the larger region may be to see how it does in Greece. I wouldn't be surprised if it does equally well there, too, because leftism and anti-Americanism are the default mode of "intellectuals" around here.

So, although incidentally this movie's anti-Americanism seems to be due to recent events and Islamism per se, it's actually a bit like this:

- Most intelligentsia are socialists (even communists); they revel in anti-Americanism;

- The "democratic" masses (read that as "the unwashed ready to plunder the cities and all wealth of the Westernized middle and upper classes") are naturally anti-American not because it has the faintest idea of what "American" actually is, but because they are naturally suspicious of anything non-rural and non-Islamic;

- The elites help them direct their fears and hatred to the proper objects (America, Western culture, capitalism) etc. They watch soap operas where characters they identify with demonstrate -- through no respect for trivialities like "rule of law" but the feudal "rule of the muscle" -- how wonderfully moral and heroic they are (due to which they are naturally entitled to steal the city girls).

And that's "proletarian" or at least "lumpenproletarian" consciousness and "honorable resistance" for ya.

Actually the whole thing has a quality to it in the media that approaches the gaudiness of say "Rap" as an "art" form has in the US, but unfortuntely -- as contrasted to the blacks being only 12% in the US -- the democractic masses here make up close to 85% of the population.

What's the problem with Turkey entering the EU? I don't see why you gentlemen don't support it. ;-] If there's one thing that'll be the final undoing of that European Soviet, that'll definitely tear it apart, that's it. Let's all take a deep breath and shout: "Hey Brussels, are you racists or something? Why don't you let the poor Turks in? They all wear jeans and use cell phones! How much more Western can you get?"

Global Paradigms said...

Istanbul-Man: Thanks for your comments. It's really one of the most interesting analyses of the Turkish situation that I've read for a very long time. Leon

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