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Excuse my question

I am terribly perplexed. Is it because I have exaggerated the American effectiveness and aptitude or the Americans have become more arrogant after each difficulty they have encountered in Iraq?

After all the fuss over her visit, before and after, I cannot really comprehend why Condoleezza Rice set foot on Turkey. She spent more than 24 hours in Ankara among us without leaving much trace behind.

Let me explain.

If there is a most valuable and dependable ally to the US in the whole region it is Turkey. The Turks have always looked up to the Americans, appreciating their industriousness, giving best grades for their determination to stop Soviet aggressiveness during the Cold War. There are veterans of Korean War, even in remote villages of Anatolia, who are ready to testify about the bravery of American soldiers with whom they fought shoulder to shoulder against a common enemy.

Due to the recently deteriorating relations, I suggest you should change the present tense in the sentences above with the past tense. Recently Turkish attitude towards the US has changed drastically. In a latest opinion poll conducted by German Marshall Fund (GMF) and BBC, 82 % of the Turkish public stated very clearly that they do not consider the US as a friend of Turkey. This made Turkey the country with highest Anti-Americanism in whole of Europe. Your paper, The New Anatolian, has registered even a harsher result with 87.7 % in an off-the-cuff poll conducted in the streets of Ankara.

Does this mean that the 'American loving' Turks have turned out to be 'American haters' all of a sudden? No, not at all. From my first hand experiences, the Turks still keep their appreciation for the Americans intact and turn all their furry over to the Bush administration. We were furious when we found out that George W. Bush had planned to send troops to Baghdad using our territory as a military base, and few of us expected a quick American victory. We have become even angrier when the US has changed her plans after every military/political misfortune it encountered in Iraq, without giving any thought whether that new action would affect Turkey's security and well-being negatively.

I do not want to remind what happened to our officers in Northern Iraq and the reprimands we heard from the mouths' of some American bureaucrats.

Is US holding a grudge, even a vendetta, towards Turkey, because Turkish Grand Assembly did not give a green light to AKP government to facilitate passing of American soldiers from Turkish territory?

This is a rhetorical question, since even the most sound-minded among us believe the accuracy of the assumption. Maybe because the Washington administration has chosen the way to handle Turkey as such, that almost all of us are in the opinion that we have been a target of humiliation and punishment by the Americans. The cartoonists and producers of sit-coms are ready to ridicule or accuse Turkey unjustly. When I first heard of the outcome of GMF-BBC poll showing the very high scores of 'anti-Americanism' in Turkey, I inquired not who those 82 % were, on the contrary, I was curious who the remaining 18 % were.

I expected the visit of Condoleezza Rice would be a turning point for betterment of soaring Turkish-American relations. She is an charming young lady, sure of herself, determined, having all the qualities Turkish public would feel much sympathy. With the knowledge that her presence in Turkey would create a very positive atmosphere, I expected an American public relations campaign to allay the fury of the Turkish public. I surmised that she would mingle with as many ordinary Turks as possible throughout her visit, meet with the opinion makers in cozy environments, exchange views with those who are skeptical about American intentions in the region and appear in television channels watched by the general public who are not totally sympathetic to the US.

She did nothing of the sort. The Turkish public saw the glimpses of her with politicians, her interviews to the Turkish media have been very limited. The Turks did not see Condoleezza Rice debating her country's position on the war in Iraq and sharing her ideas with those who carry doubts about her intentions. She, as a PR asset for her country, has not been put into use in any positive way.

Why?

Anybody can answer this question according to his/her ability, but I think none of the answers would please the Americans. We, as Turks, are still as doubtful as ever about the US plans for the Middle East, and the politicians, if they will have the temerity to try the waters in the Parliament for a new initiative in support of the US, may experience even stiffer resistance.

The Americans are considered to be PR wizards worldwide, they spent huge amount of money for shaping the world's opinion, but they did not use the best PR asset they have to turn the tables in Turkey for their own good, Condoleezza Rice came and went without affecting nobody and nothing in Turkey.

May I repeat the question I posed in the beginning: "Is it because I have exaggerated the American effectiveness and aptitude or the Americans have become more arrogant after each difficulty they have encountered in Iraq?"
From 'The New Anatolian', February 8, 2005.

 
  • A friend in need - February 01, 2005


  • 8 Şubat 2005
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