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What Kind of Washington Fools Would Honor Turkey’s Foreign Minister?

June 15th, 2010 - 10:52 pm

Update (June 16th, 2010 10:20 am): A press assistant at the Wilson Center confirmed this morning that what I wrote below is correct. The ceremonial dinner, honoring Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, along with a Turkish business tycoon, is scheduled for Thursday evening, at the Four Seasons, in Istanbul.

What follows is my post originally written Wednesday night:

Turkey’s leaders have made a lot of news lately, and it’s been ugly: holding hands with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blessing the lead role of the terror-linked Turkish IHH foundation in last month’s Gaza terror flotilla, and voting last week against new sanctions on Iran in the United Nations Security Council.

So what’s a prestigious Washington foreign policy think tank to do? It looks like the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is about to bestow an award — yes, you read that right, an award – upon the chief strategist behind Turkey’s increasingly toxic foreign policy, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Unless it’s been called off since Tuesday afternoon — and there is no news of that so far — the Wilson Center plans to present Davutoglu with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service — yes, Public Service — at a dinner ceremony in Turkey this Thursday, June 17th.

This would be revolting enough were the Wilson Center an entirely private foundation. But American taxpayers are forking out for the institution hosting this stunt, whether they know it or not. The Wilson Center was created in 1968 by an act of Congress. As the Center itself details on its website, about one-third of its operating funds every year come from “the U.S. government,” a.k.a. American tax dollars (scroll down to the end of the page in this link).

The rest of the Wilson Center’s money comes from a mix of private and public sources. Top donors listed in the Center’s 2008-2009 annual report include George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the U.S. Agency for International Development (a government agency funded by U.S. tax dollars), the United Nations Development Program (which gets a big chunk of its funding from U.S. tax dollars), the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and such cosmopolitan outfits as the Fellowship Fund for Pakistan, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Mexico, and a Brazilian business conglomerate, Grupo EBX (whose officers were perhaps pleased when Brazil’s President Lula won the Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award last year). For a full roster of the top donors, scroll down to page 57 in this link to the Wilson Center’s annual report.

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