Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Turkey leading the way?

Babble on.

A discussion of political and economic reform in Turkey would be more suited to a full-length magazine article than a short column - or a blog. Unfortunately, Marcus Gee only gets a column, and you and I only get my babbling.

There's no doubt Turkey should eventually be admitted to the EU. Recep Erdogan isn't the saint Gee makes him out to be, and the fiercely secular Turkish military isn't the oppressive devil, but given Turkey's progress in the past few years, that's quibbling. Overall I agree with the columnist's view that Turkey is moving in the right direction, and in the long run, that promises to be good for Europe, for Turkey, and for the West. Whether it is also good for Islam depends upon what version of Islam you'd like to see in the world.

Allowing a Muslim country into predominantly Christian Europe, [Erdogan] argues, would send a message to the whole Islamic world. "Then they will see that the clash of civilizations is not a reality, but harmony of civilizations is a possibility," he said this spring. "This is an opportunity the EU shouldn't miss."
I don't know that I agree with him on that point - I tend to think Turkey's leadership will be painted in the Islamic world as traitors to the Judaeo-Christian oppressors, as the Wahhabist House of Saud has recently been - but I'm glad he's saying it. Somebody on the Islamic side of the divide has to maintain hope for reform. And it's not just an opportunity the EU shouldn't miss, it's an opportunity peaceful Muslims shouldn't miss. (The pessimist in me keeps yelling the famous line about the Palestinians: they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I think the Turks are smarter than that.)

The one place where I think Gee and a number of other commentators fall down is in their single-minded focus on democracy in a predominantly Islamic country.

But if Mr. Erdogan succeeds in showing that democracy and Islam can coexist, he will have struck a harder blow against Islamic extremism than any mere war could.

I'm a great believer in democracy, but it's not a magic bullet. And it doesn't exist in a vacuum. Democracy cannot survive without freedom and prosperity. EU membership criteria wisely recognizes this:

Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved:
  • stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human
    rights and respect for and protection of minorities;

  • the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to
    cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union;

  • the ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to
    the aims of political, economic & monetary union.

If Erdogan wants EU membership for Turkey - and it's obvious he understands that would be in Turkey's best interest - then he is forced to implement reforms in law, in politics, and in the economy. By tying the three together, the EU almost guarantees a successful transition.

So the real question is not whether democracy can coexist with Islam, for with economic and legal reforms, it most certainly can. The question is will militant Islamists allow Turkey to lead the way?

Babble off.


At 2:03 p.m., Blogger Alan said...

Before you get too excited about Turkey leading the way, read this post at Dhimmi Watch:

At 4:40 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I don't agree with criminalizing adultery, but I don't think it's a sign of creeping Islamic theocracy. Canada's drug laws are far more draconian than the Netherlands, but we're not some fascist state. States are allowed to differ on what constitutes criminality.

Now, if the adultery law unfairly discriminates against women, as is suggested, I'd expect courts to throw out the legislation. If the courts won't or can't do that, I'd expect the EU to refuse admission to Turkey. And that would be the end of Erdogan.

He's spent the past few years trying to polish up Turkey for a pre-admission EU inspection. If Turkey doesn't get in, their economic prospects deteriorate sharply. If the economy tanks, the military gets restless, the Islamoterror folks get restless, and the electorate gets restless. None of which is good news for Erdogan.

So I don't think he'll let anything stand in the way of EU membership. If that means turfing the adultery law, it's as good as gone.

At 5:17 p.m., Blogger Gordon Pasha said...

For what it's worth, I have to disagree with the admission of Turkey to the EU.

First off, Turkey is not European, so if Turkey joined then it would be time to change the name of the union to something else. It isn't a question of racism, it's a question of culture and history. Apples just aren't oranges, I'm afraid.

Now, that's not to say that Turkey isn't making strides towards modernity. But they have a long way to go. One of the main roadblocks is dealing with militant Islam. Another is dealing with the Kurds, in a humane way, rather than through mass murder, arrestations and torture. If the Turks were to admit to the Armenian genocide, that might make me think that, at least, the Turks had found the courage to deal with the truth.

Admitting that Turkey were, in fact, European, which it is most certainly is not, there is another problem.

At this stage in history, the west is facing a major threat from Islam. That is an undeniable fact. Letting Turkey enter the EU before all traces of Islamism had been defeated would be putting the cart way, way before the horse. There is another story about a horse that we should not forget, the one from Troy. Islam, in the form that the Islamists wish to impose it, does not allow for man-made laws. Does Europe really want to admit a country that is teetering on the edge of becoming a theocracy? Do they want to admit a country that can only avoid falling over the edge by way of a quasi-military-police state?

IMHO, having Turkey enter the EU any time soon, say within the next 20 years, would be the beginning of the end for the EU. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing.

The argument that having Turkey join the EU would show the Islamists that Islam can coexist peacefully with Christianity is a blazing red herring. Does anyone really think the Islamists would give a rat's rear end? They would certainly be happy to see Turkey join the EU though, as it would make infiltrating Europe, a game that is already childish in its simplicity, just that much easier.

If Turkey is really going to become a modern, secular and STABLE state, then its goal should not be to join the EU. Rather, Turkey should set itself up as the core nation of a democratic middle east. THAT would not only be a triumph, but also a huge gift to the entire world. They have the economy and the army needed to do it.


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