Saturday, November 24, 2007
By Scott Ritter
".......During the time of the Ottoman Empire, what is now known as Turkey was often referred to as “the sick man of Europe.” Today, it seems, many in Europe and the United States act as if this status still stands. But the fact is, Turkey today is neither sick nor European. It is a pro-West Muslim nation which not only physically bridges east and west but also serves as the conduit for social, economic and political intercourse. The key for the United States and Europe is not to keep trying to choose between forcing Turkey into becoming European and rejecting it for being too Asian, but rather to respect the progress Turkey has made in forging a Muslim nation with a secular government and democratic stability. Turkey today, as a bridge nation, holds the key for the peaceful resolution of many current crises (Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran in particular), and most potential future crises involving East-West conflict. Properly nurtured and managed, the West’s relationship with Turkey can be beneficial to all parties in the long term.
However, a bridge runs two ways, and if the West, in particular Europe, continues to approach its relationship with Turkey with the arrogance and indifference it displays today, and if the United States continues to pursue imperial policies in the Middle East which act to the detriment of Turkish interests, rest assured that this critical Western ally will drift away from Europe and firmly into the grasp of the East and radical Islamic fundamentalism. This would be a disaster for both Turkey and the West. At a time when the search for stability represents such an important part of the West’s foreign policy objectives, the lack of attention given to Turkey is astounding. Far from being the modern incarnation of Europe’s “sick man,” modern Turkey is healthy and vibrant, and does matter. We need to formulate and implement policies that reflect this reality before it is too late."