Life in Our Alternate Universe
I listened to two hours of news tonight, then read a sampling of columnists, and learned the following.
We should blame ourselves for the estrangement with Turkey because (1) George Bush put it in a tight spot in 2003 (but Turkey simply took our foreign aid and said no to the transit of the 4th Infantry Division, which, had it came down from the north into the Sunni Triangle, might have accelerated the collapse of Saddam’s forces); (2) the EU did not admit Turkey (given what we know between the relative attitudes toward thrift, finance, and legal compliance among Germans and Greeks, we could imagine what the divide might have been, say, between Anatolia and Amsterdam); (3) the Bush neocons’ tilt toward Israel forced our natural Turkish ally into the Islamist camps (we are to ignore the unhinged rants of former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, who started in on his hate the Jews/trash America outbursts in the 1990s, apparently to wide applause, that predated Bush).
What I did not hear from our pundits: (1) Turkey monitors the spiraling debt of the U.S., the new bowing/apologizing/outreach to Iran, Syria, etc., and senses weakness and hence opportunity rather than magnanimity and hence appreciation; (2) Turkey’s new efforts to be on the cutting edge of radical Islam while trying to be a window on the West are in perfect accord with some 400 years of Ottoman history, when contact with Western powers was largely parasitical and aimed at enhancing Muslim interests; it was never, before the shared fear of the U.S.S.R., an ally of liberal Western democracies, siding with imperial Germany in World War I, and signing a friendship pact of neutrality with Hitler in 1941, so there were always historical faultlines; (3) Turkey sees a growing distance between Israel and the United States and hence opportunity for it to slip in between to galvanize Islamic opposition in one-eyed-Jack fashion, while in the Southern Mediterranean to reestablish a larger presence toward a bankrupt Greece, estranged from both its northern Europe creditors and the United States (tired of cheap Athenian anti-Americanism).
I did not hear that she urged not just that Israel get out of the West Bank, not just that 1947 Israel cease to exist, and not just that Israelis leave the Mideast — but that Jews go to Poland and Germany (but, why, Ms. Thomas, not, say, to France or Lithuania?)
And here was the media reaction: (1) Ms. Thomas is almost 90, give her a break (but if that suggests she is senile, why the cherished seat as the doyen of the White House press corps?); (2) Ms. Thomas was a trailblazer and the greater good must outweigh the smaller bad (but she has a long history of especially inflammatory comments, and it is an American practice to punish public figures, whether a George Allen or Trent Lott, for a single outburst of racial or ethnic insensitivity); (3) She is sort of right, in that Israel will have to withdraw to its 1947 borders (but she did not imply that; instead she meant out of all the West Bank and Israel and back to the site of the Holocaust).
Therapeutic Foreign Policy
I also heard that the reset button foreign policy is working, especially in the case of the Mideast and Russia.