British Prime Minister David Cameron’s July 27 speech in Turkey will not live on in history. But it should, as an example of the decline of Western diplomacy and of suicide by political correctness. It is a textbook example of how not to conduct international affairs.
It crossed my mind that the speech was written by the Foreign Office for the express purpose of making Cameron look foolish, but then I realized that he and his top advisors probably have no idea why it was such a disaster.
Suppose you are the British prime minister going to Turkey, or to just about any country. What should you say? The theme should be: We can cooperate and do mutually beneficial things. Here’s what I can do for you; here’s what I’d like you to do for me. And here’s what you must not do in order to reap the benefits of my friendship and favor.
Obviously, you need to dress that up in appropriate language. But everything should be conditional. The message to be delivered is that it is in your interest to respect my interests.
Cameron did the precise and exact opposite. His message was: The UK needs Turkey. Turkey is wonderful. Its behavior has been perfect. We are desperate for your help.
What is the effect? A man goes into a bazaar, points to a carpet, and says, “That is the most beautiful carpet I have ever seen. I must have it no matter what the price! How much is it?”
In addition, Cameron committed some other howling mistakes, several of which will amaze you. So please stick with me as I explain and document this — you won’t be disappointed. And remember this is not just a matter of one speech; it is a fitting symbol for the entire contemporary Western diplomatic approach to the Middle East, and much more to the world as well. By the way, it is doomed to fail miserably.
Before we begin, remember that this is no longer the old Turkish Republic. Cameron is lavishing praise on an Islamist-oriented regime which has aligned itself with Iran and revolutionary Islamist groups. And all of Cameron’s pandering, as if he were a Western barbarian in the court of the all-powerful Ottoman sultan, is driving a knife into the heart of a Turkish opposition which is genuinely friendly toward the West and horrified by the current regime’s subversion of Turkish democracy.
Cameron began by saying:
I’ve come to Ankara today to establish a new partnership between Britain and Turkey. I think this is a vital strategic relationship for our country.
Note the cringing here. One might have said: “I think this is a vital strategic relationship for our countries.” In other words, the speaker would stress there is a mutual benefit. Instead, this polite approach makes it sound as if Turkey is doing the United Kingdom a favor by having a strategic relationship with it. And this is precisely the interpretation put on such things in the local context. This kind of humbleness/flattery is also seen in President Barack Obama’s speeches.
And here it is again:
People ask me why [I’m visiting] Turkey and why so soon. I’ll tell you why. Because Turkey is vital for our economy. Vital for our security. And vital for our politics and diplomacy.
So Turkey holds all the cards, and the West can do nothing but give concessions in hope of winning favor in its eyes. One should remember that a major theme of Iran, Syria, and this Turkish regime is that nothing can be achieved without them, and so the West must bow to their will and do everything they want. Cameron is feeding this monster.
According to him, there are no problems with Turkey on security:
Turkey is a great NATO ally. And Turkey shares our determination to fight terrorism in all its forms — whether from al-Qaeda or the PKK. [Note that he fails to mention Hamas or Hezbollah!] But perhaps more significant still is the fact that Turkey’s unique position at the meeting point of East and West gives it an unrivaled influence in helping us get to grips with some of the greatest threats to our collective security.
Look, you don’t go to a country and criticize it (unless the country is Israel. Now why is that?), but you don’t tell them that everything they are doing is great because if that’s not true they will keep on doing it and know there is no cost. Turkey under this regime is not a pro-Western state helping the West against its “Eastern” enemies — as Turkey was between, say, 1950 and 2000 — nor is it a neutral meeting ground. At present, Turkey is on the enemy side.