I invite you to use your imagination

I am a reasonable man, so, my friends say. I always try to be logical whenever possible. If I'm faced with something illogical, I feel ill at ease. Unfortunately, the world doesn't revolve around reason nowadays, at least not with regards to Turkey.

Let's take bilateral relations between Turkey and the U.S. as a case in point.

Relations between the two have been difficult for quite some time, especially after the Turkish Parliament's decision in March 2003 not to let U.S. troops be stationed on Turkish territory. As recently as last month, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Turkey, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington told an international audience that the decision by the Turkish Parliament had been detrimental to U.S. war planning. He reasoned that by not getting Turkish approval to open up a second front in the north, the U.S. wasn't able to eradicate Sunni resistance soon enough.

Although I have a great many reservations about Mr. Rumsfeld’s analysis, I understand the reasons behind his outburst. He and his cohorts at the Pentagon didn't like Turkey’s rejection of their demands. Involving Turkey in Washington’s war against Iraq wasn't that important from a military point of view, but it deprived Washington of a moral card to be used after the war. As a Muslim country sympathetic to the U.S. cause, which had more than 65,000 U.S. troops on its territory, Turkey could have been used as leverage over the Iraqi people during the occupation and would have silenced Islamic objections.

Such a huge offense normally warrants an early reprisal, but there was none right after the Parliament’s "unreasonable" decision. Quite the contrary, Mr. Colin Powell, then secretary of state, visited Turkey the same week and praised it as an example of a working democracy. President George W. Bush paid a state visit to Turkey soon afterwards and pretended that nothing unsavory had happened. Of course, some unpleasant statements have been heard now and then, and one of the most unfortunate events of recent Turkish history also occurred when 11 Turkish officers had hoods placed over their heads by some U.S. Cent-Com elements in northern Iraq, but official reaction to the Turkish Parliament as well as the government has been very mild nonetheless.

This is also understandable considering the multiplicity of American interests in the region where Turkey is the backbone, and given the diversity of potential roles Turkey can play in all areas, not just necessarily from a military point of view. Lorries carrying goods to help ease the burden of occupation for the U.S. have been driven by courageous Turkish drivers, and the goods they carry are made in Turkey. Turkey didn't participate in the war, but it has lost almost a hundred of its citizens during the occupation of Iraq.

Turkey's stature was raised by Parliament’s decision in March 2003 not to accept American troops on its territory. Many in the region started to look up to Turkey as a strong democracy which could say “No” to a superpower with little regard for challenges to its hegemony. This isn't just my point of view or that of the people in the region, but is also shared by some U.S. specialists. Alan Makovsky, an aide to Congressman Tom Lantos, in a panel discussion last week in Washington DC. called it "ironic" that Turkey's stand against the U.S. can be used as a successful example of the U.S.' democratization project for the Middle East.

This is valid logic, a form of logic that I admire above all others.

This is where I have to ask for your kind assistance working out the logic of recent developments concerning bilateral relations between Turkey and the U.S. Can you find any justification for the high number of articles recently appearing in the U.S. media criticizing Turkey for being "anti-U.S."? The U.S. Embassy in Ankara issues clarifications on articles appearing in the Turkish press almost daily and many of them require further clarification; how can diplomats working at the embassy with their hands full of Turkish newspapers find time to work on improving relations?

Improving relations is a must for the U.S.. With its new standing, Turkey can play an important role in the democratization of the Middle East region. Our Parliament didn't say “No” to a good relationship between Turkey and the U.S., it only said “No” to the intentions of the U.S. getting Turkey involved in an unjustified war in Iraq. It was a warning to all concerned to steer clear of military engagement which would lead nowhere. Democracy has worked beautifully in Turkey, making the country an exemplary democracy for both undemocratic countries in the region and for those democracies with little respect for their peoples’ wishes.

Do you see any reason or logic in the U.S.' actions when they appear to be keen on destroying any remnants of bilateral relations between Turkey and the U.S.? Instead of rushing to Turkey’s assistance to put things in order in the region, the people representing U.S. interests in Ankara have been trying to ruin anything good that remains. Can you see the reason why?

When I can't find the logic to something, I always remember what Einstein once said, “Logic will get you from A to B, imagination will take you everywhere.” In our case, to answer my question, you have to use your imagination.

From 'The New Anatolian', March 15, 2005.


  • A time for encouragement - March 8, 2005

  • The proof in the pudding - March 1, 2005

  • Hail to the Columnist! - February 22, 2005

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

  • Excuse my question - February 08, 2005

  • A friend in need - February 01, 2005

  • 15 Mart 2005

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