The proof in the pudding

It's time to make a difficult confession: although I really appreciate his definition of reality as “The proof of the pudding is (in) the eating,” my favorite writer is not Miguel de Cervantes. My favorite writer is Tom Clancy. His excellent portrayal of global political intrigue is a real page-turner for me. I was a bit depressed when he used up all options for Jack Ryan, the major hero of almost all his novels. Ryan was an intelligence agent first, then became the director of the CIA, and eventually Clancy even made it possible for his hero to get elected president of the U.S.

My depression faded away when I started reading Clancy's latest novel, in which he introduced a new hero to his fictional personae, Jack Ryan Jr., the son of his previous hero. I have to say that this is a very clever tactic. Jack Jr., in 'The Teeth of the Tiger', is up against tough enemies from the Middle East. He works for an ex-senator who publicly humiliated himself so that he can set up an organization to combat evil forces. Clancy depicts an underground organization that is very much alive and well and doing many good things for America without leaving any trace of its existence.

While reading the book my enjoyment never flagged even when I realized that no such organization can function in any democratic country, including the U.S. I never believed that the story takes its inspiration from reality, since novels do not subscribe to reality. Novels are works of fiction, and fiction does not touch reality in every aspect.

The only exception in the minds of some Americans are Turkish novels. A new novel, Metal Storm, written by two young writers, curiously enough, is en route to destroying 50 years of American-Turkish relations. All the American dignitaries who happened to visit Turkey recently consider the book an example of Turkish anti-Americanism. In Metal Storm, Turkey is attacked by the U.S. Army in 2007. If I ever decide to allocate my precious time to reading it, I do not think that I will treat it differently than the way I read The Teeth of the Tiger by Clancy.

If we start believing everything we read in novels, and act accordingly, Americans will be in deeper trouble than us as Metal Storm is the first of its kind whereas the shelves of U.S. bookstores are full of political thrillers which depict every kind of fictitious war possible.

In a free society you find all sorts of people. If the press is free and not government controlled, there are all kinds of strange stories in the newspapers. The most outrageous stories, on any given topic, that I have read in my entire life, were in the American press. I collect documents, I clip all kinds of information, even trivia, so if anyone wants to challenge my claim then I am ready to prove my point. For me, Americans are the most spectacular conspiracy buffs.

So what is all this fuss over some unbelievable news stories in the Turkish media and a novel depicting a fictitious war between Turkey and the U.S.? When and how did the unbelievable come to be treated as believable and fiction as reality? This is totally nonsense.

With this in mind, when my computer informed me that I had a email from Robert Pollock replying to my article in TNA on his Wall Street Journal piece, I expected a convincing argument for the position he has taken. Unfortunately, he reiterated his approach to the matter. His short summary is this: “We all respect Turkey's decision not to join us in Iraq, even if we regret it. Turkey is a democracy. But it is important for Turks to remember that the long-term foreign policies of democracies are dependent on public support. If Turks don't want to be allies with America we will have to respect that too. But that would be a great tragedy for the U.S. and for the region in general, so I wanted to write a piece asking Turks to think again about whether they can really afford to be so careless with our alliance. If our policies in Iraq are wrong, it should be no problem to oppose them with the facts as opposed to wild conspiracy theories.”

In the same frame of mind, I would like to ask him to clarify his country's position on the treatment of Muslims and Islam depicted in novels like Tom Clancy's latest. I, myself, have a lot of bones to pick with the Americans, after reading nonsensical articles in many newspapers and magazines, but even in my wildest dreams I have never considered blaming the Bush administration for them or contemplated asking the Turkish government to renew our country's ties with the U.S. because of them. I do think, however, that it is easier for us, the Turks, to afford to be careless about our alliance with the U.S. than for the Americans to do the same.

I have asked my American friends living here in Turkey, on more than one occasion, if they have encountered any animosity recently, and always get negative answers. Just for the record: a Canadian friend I mistakenly asked the same question told me that he considered himself as an anti-American in a country whose citizens show no animosity towards Americans.

Anti-Americanism is a global phenomena and Turkey is also suffering from it, but as not badly as in some European countries. We in Turkey felt affinity with the Americans after the 9/11 events in New York and Washington D.C. Our reassessment of the events came later when some people within the U.S. administration started using them for their own agenda. The Greeks, according to a poll conducted right after the events, felt that justice had been served (30 percent), about 25 percent of respondents felt "satisfied," even "pleased," by the assault on the Twin Towers, as reported in The New Statesman.

I will keep reading Tom Clancy novels until he has used up all possible heroes from the Ryan family since he is a better writer than many in his country.
From 'The New Anatolian', March 1, 2005.

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  • It is in our blood, we do not waver - February 15, 2005

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