U.S. and Saudi Arabia Sign $110 Billion Arms Deal

Saudi Arabia – A big priority for all US Presidents! America’s true Muslim friends, champions of democracy, women’s rights and LGBIT freedoms!

I’d like to see a list of what the US arms industry is selling the Sauds – and what they are planning to do with all that hardware.

Time Magazine       May 20, 2017

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What you said, Mr King – Allahu akbar!

(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman signed a series of agreements cementing their countries’ military and economic partnerships.

The two leaders signed a joint vision agreement Saturday at the Saudi Royal Court and sealed it with a handshake.

The agreements also include a military sales deal of about $110 billion, effective immediately, plus another $350 billion over the next 10 years.

The two countries also announced a defense cooperation agreement and private sector agreements Saturday that are intended to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defense industry.

Trump has been tending to official business on his first day overseas as president.

“The Limits of Westernization” – A book review

We fortunate denizens of the First World may not think about it too much – but there is a dominant culture on Planet Earth. It’s not all about the English language – but that’s a big part of it. It’s not all about the United States of America – but that’s a big part of it too. Clearly science and technology play a major role, as do economics (Wall Street and the Yankee dollar), oil and coffee beans.

The good people at Columbia University, NY, are to be congratulated for publishing a series of books, “Studies in International and Global History” examining “the transnational and global processes that have shaped the contemporary world.” Their aim, they say, is to “transcend the usual area boundaries and address questions of how history can help us understand contemporary problems, including poverty, inequality, power, political violence and accountability beyond the nation state.”

9780231182027It’s a worthy aim – and if Perin Gürel’s book “The Limits of Westernization – A Cultural History of America in Turkey” is representative of the series, in my opinion, Columbia Press is on to a good thing. Gürel is Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, an American citizen of Turkish parentage. She is balancing the demands of family and motherhood with a promising academic career, and dedicates this, her first book, to her daughter, Marjane Honey: “May you always keep your love of learning and sense of humor entangled.” Amen! Marjane’s mother seems to be managing, so there is hope for the little one.

In her acknowledgements, Gürel pays generous tribute to a host of academics, friends and family members who she modestly accepts as co-authors of her book, and pre-empts possible criticism by admitting that this work “impetuously pushes the limits of inter/multidisciplinarity”. For me, that is undoubtedly its main strength.

Counting its introduction and postscript, the book’s 200 pages contain six chapters. The essence of Gürel’s thesis relates to the dilemma faced by countries that do not, by birthright, belong to the First World. As the Chinese, Native Americans and the Maori of New Zealand learned, isolating yourself from the dominant culture is not an option. They won’t let you. If you are lucky and sufficiently determined, you may try to find a balance between embracing “modernity”, and preserving the integrity of your native culture. “The Limits of Westernization” discusses aspects of this dilemma using the modern Republic of Turkey as a case study.

Gürel is an academic, writing primarily for her academic peers. Nevertheless, she has managed, at the same time, to produce a work that is meaningful and accessible to the non-specialist lay reader – a commendable achievement!

In her introduction, Gürel outlines the key problem facing Turkey and other developing countries: the siren attraction of modernity, epitomised in the contemporary world by the United States of America, and the fear that the overpowering dominance of that attraction will subvert and destroy the indigenous culture. The leaders/governments of those developing countries attempt to control and direct the process of modernisation/Westernization – while simultaneously, a wild Westernization beyond their control is inevitably taking place.

Chapter One looks at the historical narrative, examining the declining years of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of the modern Republic of Turkey. Gürel discusses the way “history” has been manipulated, in Turkey and the United States, to assist the creation of a national identity. In particular, she focuses on a woman, Halide Edip Adıvar, who seems to exemplify the ambivalence implicit in the emergence of the new Republic.

Chapter Two comes at the issue from a literary angle, and deals with the evolution of the novel in Turkish as writers tried to make sense of the rapidly changing social milieu. The key theme is that allegory was an important aspect of earlier Ottoman literature which exponents of the new genre continued to employ in their attempts to shed light on the seismic changes taking place around them.

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Temel and Fadime feature in many Turkish jokes

In the third chapter, Gürel leaps into the culturally ambiguous realm of humour. In what is perhaps the most perceptive and, for a Western reader, the most entertaining and eye-opening chapter, she gives an overview of the way humour has played a part in reflecting and moulding Turkish attitudes to foreigners over the centuries.

The final chapter deals with issues of sexual identity, in particular contrasting the modern imported concepts of gay-ness/queer-ness, with more traditional attitudes towards sexuality and gender roles. I have to confess, the generation gap kicked in here. I know this is a crucial issue for Millennials. If I were writing the book I might have wound up with a chapter on economics – but there you are.

Gürel’s postscript picks up the “Clash of Civilisations” idea popularised by Samuel Huntington. That writer referred to Turkey as a “torn country” – a disparaging term suggesting that Turkey was “fickle” and unable to decide if it wanted to be East or West. Gürel makes the point that “Turkey was never formally colonised”, and consequently had more room to manoeuvre in the process of modernisation. Nevertheless, she notes that, as the “War on Terror” has moved to the forefront of Western politics, Turkey has suffered from a wilful ignorance – a growing belief in Western countries that Turkey cannot be understood, therefore it is useless to try. “That way,” as Shakespeare’s Lear observed, “madness lies.” Full marks to Perin Gürel for showing us another road.

________________________________________________________

The Limits of Westernization – A Cultural History of America in Turkey

Perin E Gürel

Columbia University Press (May 30, 2017)

279 pages

What’s going on out there?

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Another Queen Elizabeth; another woman Prime Minister; another war coming up?

Will another civil war break out in the (Dis)United States?

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-our-dishonest-president/

Will (Great) Britain declare war on Spain?

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11831007

The upcoming referendum in Turkey pales into insignificance.

Why do they hate Turkey?

I used to think that most of the Turks I met were paranoid, their outlook clouded by a persecution complex, obsessed with the conviction that everyone out there hated them. These days, however, I have more sympathy. Listen up.

First of all, I’m not talking about a full-blown international conspiracy here – though I’m reasonably sure there are conspiratorial elements at work. What I’ve got in mind is something much deeper and more subtle: a kind of millennia-long propaganda programme; a brainwashing process that began in the 11th century, and continues to this day.

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Statue of Seljuk Sultan, Alp Arslan, in Muş, Turkey

Everyone who has passed through the education system in Turkey can tell you of a battle that took place in 1071 CE out in eastern Anatolia/Asia Minor. Known as Malazgirt to Turks, and Manzikert in English, the battle saw the defeat of the Byzantine Roman Emperor, Romanos IV Diogenes, by the army of the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan. Historians generally agree that this battle marked the beginning of the end for the Eastern Roman Empire, though it staggered on, steadily shrinking, for a further four centuries. Certainly it was the first time a Christian Emperor had been taken captive by Muslim forces, and began the incursion of Seljuk Turks into the Anatolian heartland of the Byzantine Empire.

Twenty-four years later, by 1095, the initial entry had become a flood, and the new Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, sent a plea to his Christian brothers in Rome for military assistance. Pope Urban II responded favourably, and his impassioned speeches to Roman Catholic Europe launched the First Crusade in 1096. But what was that Crusading business really about?

Certainly the Pope and his Roman Catholics had no great love for their Eastern Orthodox brethren. Centuries of doctrinal conflict had led to the Great Schism in 1054, when Eastern and Western Churches made their split official and final. Consequently, there was no help forthcoming from the West when those Seljuk Turks won their great victory seventeen years later.

Supporting the Eastern Empire soon morphed into liberating the so-called ‘Holy Lands’ from Muslim occupation as the main motivation for Crusaders. This also seems less than convincing, however, given that those lands had been in Muslim hands for 400 years. It is far more likely that the Roman Pope was keen to unite Western Christendom – currently engaged in vicious internecine warfare – and establish a Holy Roman Empire with temporal power to match that of his eastern rivals. The Muslim operation was more of a pretext, deriving from the need to create a fearsome enemy, a bogey that would inspire and unite Christian warlords with religious fervour. Sound familiar?

So was born the thousand-year hatred of Turks – never mind that the Muslims in possession of Jerusalem were mostly Arabs; and zealots of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, laying aside earlier pretense, besieged, captured, desecrated and  pillaged Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Christians they were supposed to be helping.

Crusaders and Turks had their ups and downs, but it was other Turkic invaders and their Mongol cousins that finally ended the Seljuk Empire in the mid-12th century. It wasn’t long, however, before another, more ambitious and durable Islamic empire began to rise. Ertuğruloğlu Osman is generally credited with founding the Ottoman dynasty in 1299. By 1400, Osman’s successors had brought Anatolia under their control, and extended their reach into the Balkans. Fifty-three years later they completed the demise of the eastern Byzantine Christian Romano-Greek Empire (a rather confusing entity) by conquering their last stronghold, the fabled city of Constantinople.

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Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II enters Constantinople, 1453

The fall of Constantinople was a matter of some ambivalence in Western Christendom. First and foremost, Roman Catholics saw their Eastern cousins as heretics and rivals, and once again refrained from sending military assistance. On the other hand, as historian John Julius Norwich has observed, those eastern Christians had acted as a buffer against Muslim westward expansion for 800 years. Without their resistance, the whole of Europe might have been overrun, and we might all have a more personal first-hand knowledge and understanding of Islam. The Eastern capital may have been the centre of heresy and dissolute corruption in the eyes of Western Papists, but its fall undoubtedly sent shivers of dread running down their spines.

Far from creating an exclusively Muslim domain, however, the Ottoman conquerors ruled over an empire that was indisputably multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-religious. Islam was the official state religion, but its adherents included Arabs and Kurds, and were not exclusively Turkish. Orthodox Christians, Armenians and Jews were given freedom to worship in their own churches, educate their children in their own schools, bury their dead in their own cemeteries, speak and write their own languages, conduct business, make money, build palatial houses, and serve at the highest levels of Ottoman society.

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Hürrem Sultan (Roxelana) wife of Suleiman the Great, and definitely not Turkish

As for the Ottoman sultans, they were a mixed lot from the earliest days. The mother of Mehmet II, conqueror of Constantinople, was from a Christian family, possibly Italian or Serbian. Mehmet’s own consorts included women from non-Muslim families, and the mother of his successor, Beyazit II was reputedly of Greek or Albanian origin. This trend continued for centuries, making nonsense of the Western fiction labelling the Ottoman Sultan ‘The Grand Turk’. European insistence on referring to the Ottoman domains as ‘Turkey’ clearly owed more to a desire to belittle a dangerous opponent than any actual ethnic reality.

The danger to Europe was ever-present to the end of the 17th century, when Ottoman forces were finally turned back from the gates of Vienna in November 1683. So the stereotype was firmly established – European Christendom had had 600 years to develop a fear and hatred of ‘Turks’ – regardless of whether or not that’s what these people actually were.

Then the tone changed. Western Europe moved into its ‘Enlightenment’ period. Its wealth, industry, science, technology, and military effectiveness began to overtake that of its Ottoman rivals. Victories over their Eastern neighbours became increasingly common, and territorial expansion went into reverse. What began as a patronising Orientalist Ottomania for eastern fashions gradually turned into supercilious arrogance by the 19th century. Czar Nicholas I of Russia is credited with coining the term ‘The Sick Man of Europe’; and the dominant concern of the European ‘Great Powers’ Britain, France, Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire in international affairs was ‘The Eastern Question’: simply put, when would the Ottoman Empire finally collapse and disintegrate, and which of them would get what when it did?

For the last hundred years of its existence, what kept the Ottoman Empire afloat was primarily the selfish desires of those ‘Great Powers’ to see that, individually, they got the best bits and the others didn’t. The building of the Suez Canal and the discovery of oil in the Middle East increased the importance of the eastern Mediterranean to the West. Mainland Greece was forcibly seized from the Ottomans in 1830, and the puppet Kingdom of Greece established with the support of Britain, France and Russia. The islands in the Western Aegean were ‘given’ to the new kingdom at that time. In the Balkan Wars of 1812-13, Greek and Italian troops seized the eastern islands, the seizure given ‘official international’ recognition under the Sevres and Lausanne Treaties (see maps below). Subsequently the Italians gifted their share of the islands to Greece, and precedent had been established for later events in Rhodes and Cyprus.

While the European Powers were systematically dismembering the territories of the Ottoman Empire, it was necessary for them to at least pretend that their motives were pure. In consequence, it suited them to foster in the public mind an image of ‘The Turk’ as unbeliever, barbarian and monster. This, then, justified their aggression and seizing of territory under the guise of protecting the Christian subjects of a cruel and ruthless regime. Their own ethnic cleansing of Muslims from areas they conquered took place far enough from home that it could be swept under the carpet. Ottoman attempts to stem the tide could be portrayed as characteristic incidents of gratuitous barbarity, justifying further crusading action.

All such pretence finally evaporated in the aftermath of the First World War. It is generally accepted that harsh reparations enforced by the victorious allies led to Germany’s economic collapse, and the rise of Adolf Hitler. It is less well known that the machinations of those victors, in particular Britain and France, created the conditions that pretty much directly produced the current turmoil in the Middle East.

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1. Sykes-Picot plans for the Middle East

Britain and France, with Russian concurrence, signed the secret Sykes-Picot agreement (see Map 1) in 1915 whereby Ottoman territory would be divided amongst them, with some allocations to Greece and Italy. The Treaty of Sevres (Map 2), signed in 1920 without the participation of the USA or Greece, more or less confirmed the Sykes-Picot boundaries. It was all very nice and tidy – and ‘Turkey’ would have to content itself with a rump of central Anatolia and Black Sea coastline.

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2. Sevres Agreement – they would have if they could have!

What happened to upset their plans was the emergence of Turkish nationalism which – European insistence on the name ‘Turkey’ notwithstanding – had previously been pretty much non-existent. For three years, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (later Atatürk) led an army of liberation that drove the invading Europe-sponsored Greek military out of Anatolia, and forced the British and French to quit Istanbul, which they had been illegally occupying since 1919. The modern Republic of Turkey was established in 1923, at last bringing into existence a ‘Turkish’ state on which that thousand-year hatred could be focused. I am as sure as I can be that Britain, France, and, to a lesser extent, Russia, have never forgiven Turkey for those humiliations.

In the 93 years since, Turkey has slowly turned itself from an economic basket case, destitute after decades of war, into a modern nation with one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It hasn’t been an easy road. Turkey’s location at the gateway between Europe and the Middle East; and on the frontline in the Cold War with Soviet Russia, has meant that it would never be left alone to work out its own destiny. Unbeknown to most of us in the West, the United States maintained several military bases in Turkey during the Cold War, with nuclear-armed missiles aimed, from point-blank range, at targets in Russia. President JF Kennedy’s 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis takes on a different aspect when viewed in this context.

The 1974 crisis in Cyprus, when Turkey’s Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit sent troops to the island to secure a Turkish sector, has led to unceasing international censure and accusations. It was, however, within the power of the British Government at the time, as guarantors of the treaty establishing the independence of Cyprus, to step in and make the Turkish action unnecessary – which they declined to do. In contrast, the action of Armenia, in invading and occupying the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, within the internationally recognised boundaries of Azerbaijan, arguably a less justifiable intervention, has been met with an almost universal silence from Western nations so unforgiving in their criticism of Turkey.

From 1960 to 1997, the Republic of Turkey experienced four military interventions that overturned democratically elected governments – according to some, with the connivance of United States administrations. Three of those coups resulted in periods of martial law, accompanied by detention, imprisonment without trial, torture and ‘disappearances’ of political ‘dissidents’. Many academics were removed from their positions in universities, and intellectuals obliged to flee the county.

Since the AK Party became the government in 2002, military intervention in the political process seems to have passed into history. Inflation of banana-republic proportions that had plagued the country for decades, was wiped out virtually overnight. Public transport and provision of water and electricity in the major cities has improved out of sight. Service over the counter in state offices has become an orderly process relying on numbered queues rather than crossing a public servant’s palm with silver. Medical treatment in state and private hospitals is now more accessible to all, and the Third World chaos formerly reigning in state clinics is also a thing of the past.

In spite of this, news media in the United States and Western Europe are unrelenting in publishing articles belabouring Turkey for its alleged descent into autocratic Islamic fundamentalism. They are aided in their propaganda by discontented Turks who seem to be hoping that they can enlist outside support for political ‘change’ they have been unable to achieve through the ballot box.

Sadiq Khan MP at Westminster, London, Britain  - 11 Oct 2012

Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London

The ongoing problem for the West, however, is that they have never quite been able to bring Turkey under their direct control. Attempts in the past at invasion and occupation failed. The present government has, at least so far, been able to forestall attempts through the courts and by the military, to remove them from office. The current refugee crisis, not of Turkey’s making, but imposing a huge burden on its economy and infra-structure, has been turned into a powerful lever forcing European leaders to enter into negotiations in a way they have previously refused to do.

We live in interesting times. As I write this, citizens of London have just elected a Muslim Mayor whose parents were immigrants from Pakistan. Well, at least he’s not a Turk – but still, it looks like an event that will require some shifting of mental gears in the birthplace of democracy.

“America Has Been at War 93% of the Time – 222 out of 239 Years – Since 1776”

Well, we kind of knew it, but it’s good (if frightening) to have the statistics to support that gut feeling. Thanks to Sojourner for the post:

An Outsider's Sojourn II

Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

I have posted articles stating this sad, but true, fact before. But since the U.S. Corporation continues to make its living by waging war, continually, on the disenfranchised peoples of this world, I thought I would share it again.

Without war, the U.S. Corporation would cease to exist:

AMERICA HAS BEEN AT WAR 93% OF THE TIME – 222 OUT OF 239 YEARS – SINCE 1776

The U.S. Has Only Been At Peace For 21 Years Total Since Its Birth
In 2011, Danios wrote:

Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence. In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the U.S. did not wage any wars.
To put this in perspective:

* Pick…

View original post 2,518 more words

Twitter Democracy – Turkey under siege

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President Erdoğan opens new Islamic cultural centre in Lanham, Maryland

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan is currently visiting the United States of America. Yesterday he officially opened a large mosque and Islamic cultural centre in Lanham, Maryland, a small town just up the road from Washington DC.

President Obama apparently declined an invitation to be present at the opening ceremony – but it is to his credit, and to Americans as a people, that permission was given to build this complex. Of course the President of the United States has to walk a careful line, and needless to say there are plenty of US citizens only to ready to defame Mr Obama as a Muslim, and supporter of terrorists. Being photographed in front of a large mosque complex not far from the White House would undoubtedly have generated a good deal of negative publicity.

So the US President is well aware that not everything published in news media, at home and abroad, is 100% true. As Mr Erdoğan was departing for his American visit, there were some in Turkey saying that Barack Obama would refuse to meet him. That was nonsense, of course, as events subsequently proved. I watched a news programme on a Turkish TV channel the other day showing Mr Erdoğan speaking at the Brookings Institution in the US capital, and answering questions from representatives of the international news media.

Predictably, questions focussed on claims that Turkey’s president is a dictator, that he imprisons journalists who dare to criticise him, and that he is ordering his military to massacre Kurdish women and children in the south east of the country. President Erdoğan handled all of the questions knowledgeably and with dignity, even though he must be totally fed up with foreign media constantly harping on the same issues. He might have said that, were he actually a dictator, he probably wouldn’t have fronted up to such a meeting where he had everything to lose, and not much to gain.

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‘Erdoğan murderer and thief’ Is this press freedom?

My newspaper today reports that Mr Obama told his own news media that he had spoken to President Erdoğan about his concerns over press freedom in Turkey. For his part, Mr Erdoğan asserted that the issue did not arise during their fifty-minute meeting. Interesting! Turkey’s president went on to say that there have been headlines in Turkish newspapers calling him a ‘murderer’ and a ‘thief’. He doubted if such ‘journalism’ would be acceptable in Western countries, and if Mr Obama had raised the matter in their discussion, he would certainly have made that point.

The following opinion piece ran in a Turkish newspaper, Sabah, last week, under the by-line of Mahmut Övür. I doubt if you will see it in any English language news source, so I’m translating it for your edification:

“In the last fifteen years Turkey has been struggling to overcome a century of resistance to change, and at the same time, has faced attacks from the forces of the globalised world.

To clarify, Turkey has been facing constant condemnation in relation to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. With Deep State, PKK, DAESH and other terror organisations attacking from within, and newspapers, TV networks, and social media like Twitter and Facebook from abroad, Turkey has been engaged in an ongoing battle. From time to time it has had to put limits on these freedoms.

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State of emergency in Brussels

While all this has been going on, there has been strong criticism in particular from the EU and the USA via the press and politicians, mounting a campaign to the effect that ‘There is no freedom of the press or freedom of speech in Turkey’.

Under the guise of promoting freedom, they are implementing a deliberate policy of vilifying Turkey. In other words, since 2010 they have put Turkey in a state of siege.

Now one ugly incident has brought this plan out into the open. The other day President Erdoğan went to the USA to attend a NATO Security Summit.

This meeting was very important for a number of reasons and it happened at a very critical time, while Turkey has been the object of criticism over matters related to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and its management of internal conflicts.

In the forefront of the critics were former US ambassadors to Turkey. What happened all of a sudden? A new campaign was started on Twitter, symbol of freedom in the modern world: #WeLoveErdogan. The #WeLoveErdogan hashtag attracted enormous interest in a short time and raced to first place on the TT list with 300,000 tweets.

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Democracy in Turkey in the good old days – 1980

So, what did Twitter do, this symbol of global democracy? This Twitter, which had stirred up so much controversy because it had been closed down for a short time, couldn’t stand this hashtag for more than two hours. They closed it down and, in a move worse than censorship, replaced it with a disgraceful tweet #TurkishdictatorintheUSA which received a mere 900 hits.

What can we say about this? We know that some of our own ‘intellectuals’ will remain silent, but I wonder what the freedom-fighter politicians in the EU who are so ready to criticize Turkey, will have to say?

Is freedom to be defined only by their narrow limits? We know that the West is quick to forget democracy and freedom when it suits them. So they could ignore the military coup in Egypt. And they could ignore the massacre of 400,000 people in Syria.

We saw the same thing when terrorism hit them at home. After the bombings in Paris and Brussels they announced a state of emergency, and they poured soldiers into the streets – but if we do a tenth of that, we are called a dictatorship.

Of course the EU represents a system of values, but those values should not apply just to some people, and some countries – they should apply to all humanity . . . Our world cannot accept this double standard.

Turkey knows itself. We have some serious problems, particularly in our legal system. We still do not have a modern, democratic constitution. But this does not mean that democracy in Turkey is as bad as those other countries are trying to make out. We have made great progress and we are continuing to move forward.”

Well, there are always critics who will accuse this man of paranoia, and of embracing unfounded conspiracy theories. On the other hand, what are we to make of recent rumour-mongering in neo-con US media that there is a possibility of a military coup in Turkey to overthrow its democratically-elected government? Turkey’s military high-command felt obligated to issue a statement denying the existence of such a possibility. In fact, one of the major achievements of Turkey’s AK Party government has been distancing the military from direct involvement in the nation’s politics, and returning the armed forces to the proper role they play in all democratic countries – subservient to the elected government, not above it.

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Edward Snowden vs Hillary Clinton

There is a saying in Turkish, ‘Hem suçlu, hem güçlü’, which can be rendered in English as ‘The person who is most guilty is often the most noisily indignant in attacking others.’ I have been following the intricate proceedings of an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email server to carry out official business when she was Secretary of State. In updating the issue, a Time article made references to earlier times when Mrs Clinton and her President-at-the-time husband were found to have engaged in, to say the least, extremely dubious behaviour. There was the ‘Whitewater’ case, where there was evidence of White House involvement in deliberate blocking of investigators. Later, there were President Clinton’s official pardons, issued on his last day oin office, to wealthy supporters previously convicted of tax evasion.

That Brookings Institution where Mr Erdoğan was interrogated by the foreign press is known as one of the United States’ foremost think tanks. According to Wikipedia, among its major sources of funding are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and the State of Qatar. It has been influential in guiding government policy on financial deregulation and ‘tax reform’, and has published books including one entitled America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Maybe you’ll tell me they are working towards a better world for all of us – but I’m not so sure.

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Ottoman siege of Vienna 1529 – and they still haven’t forgiven Turkey

A recent comment on another of my posts suggested that Europe has never got over its humiliation at Gallipoli in 1915. I would go further, and suggest that the West has never got over being expelled from Anatolia and Istanbul by Turkish nationalists in 1923. That they still harbour historical resentment related to the centuries they lived in fear of being overrun by the Ottoman Empire (whom they preferred to call ‘Turks’). That there is a residual memory of the fear and hatred incited by the 11th century Pope, Urban II, who, for his own interests and those of his church, launched nearly four centuries of military aggression (a.k.a. the Crusades) against the Muslim world.

Terrorism is no new phenomenon. I applaud the Obama administration for allowing the building of that Islamic cultural centre. In the final analysis, bridge-building and education will do more to ensure world peace than stirring up hatred and fear, and seeking revenge for past wrongs.