Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Niall And The Neo-Ottomans

Caption: The Ottoman Empire, where men were men and women were not so much in evidence. It's coming back Real Soon Now.

Image credit: Robert Mantran/Wikipedia

Speaking of how our news organizations cover world events, here's a lovely editorial from Niall Ferguson, which appeared in Newsweek last week:
The question no one wants to answer is what will come after the United States departs [Iraq and the Middle East]. The “happily ever after” scenario is that one country after another will embrace Western democracy. The nightmare scenario is either civil war or Islamist revolution. But a third possible outcome is a revived Ottoman Empire.

The Mideast’s Next Dilemma
He forgot to mention the one about the robots and the asthmatic guy who always wears a helmet:
But since 2003, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected prime minister, that has changed. The founder of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan is a seductive figure. To many, he is the personification of a moderate Islamism. He has presided over a period of unprecedented economic growth. He has sought to reduce the power of the military. It was no accident that one of President Obama’s first overseas trips was to Istanbul. It was no surprise when the AKP won a third consecutive general election earlier this month.

And yet we need to look more closely at Erdogan. For there is good reason to suspect he dreams of transforming Turkey in ways Suleiman the Magnificent would have admired.

In his early career as mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan was imprisoned for publicly reciting these lines by an early-20th-century Pan-Turkish poet: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.” His ambition, it seems clear, is to return to the pre-Atatürk era, when Turkey was not only militantly Muslim but also a regional superpower.

The Mideast’s Next Dilemma

You know, I suppose it's just hard to break habits I've developed over the years, but I have to wonder how the Turks are going to do this. They have an economy that's about as small as any of the European countries they'd have to conquer to rebuild that part of the old empire. Not to mention that they share a border with Russia, still one of the biggest military powers on the planet, which has ties to most of those aforementioned countries Turkey, excuse me, the neo-Ottomans, would need to reconquer.

If I were the neo-Ottomans, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with trying to run Iraq. Syria doesn't sound like a piece of cake, either.

Let's face it, folks, the Ottoman Empire broke up because it was an untenable political unit. It had fallen further behind Europe, North America, and east Asia during the 19th Century thanks to the superstitious nonsense Attaturk tried to dispel from Turkish society after the breakup. If Erdogan really wants to bring back those heady days, I feel sorry for Turkey, but there are far more serious dangers out there than a Turkey that has once again decided to lock half its population in the kitchen and stop paying attention to what all those infidel scientists and engineers are up to.

Speaking of engineers and scientists, where will they get all the weapons from that they're going to need to build the Neo-Ottoman Empire? They don't have any aircraft manufacturers of their own, and I'm pretty sure that France, the U.S., and Israel aren't going to be too happy to sell them arms so they can invade southern Europe.

And I don't see any sign that they've rescinded their request for European Union (EU) membership. It's still active as far as the EU is concerned. I can't quote chapter and verse from the EU's constitution, but I'm pretty sure they'd look unkindly on any applicant that was trying to invade them.

You'd think these issues would bother Ferguson a bit, but they don't seem to.

As with so many commentators I've had the misfortune of reading lately, I have to wonder why anyone takes this guy seriously. Apparently, there's just not enough to be scared of already.

(h/t stacy at TM.com)

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