2 Haziran 2009
It is boring to live in a society where people love to talk through their hats around the table. Thank God serious people focusing on field studies have appeared lately. Researchers such as Taha Erdem, Binnaz Toprak, Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Ali Çarkoğlu, Yılmaz Esmer, etc. teach a lot through the field studies they conduct. In the meantime, they help us to enjoy the comments of some ignorant columnists who rock the boat when they don’t like the results.
Professor Esmer led the latest field study titled "Research on Radicalism and Extremism" for Bahçeşehir University with the support of the British Foreign Ministry. It was conducted with 1,715 participants in 34 cities.
I was not able to attend the publicity meeting but I followed the results through newspapers.
Results are objective data obtained by scientific methods. And for objectivity it is not necessary to reach the same results in every single study. The methodology applied, however, should be unique and generally accepted.
Interpretation of results, on the other hand, is totally subjective.
And everyone can interpret the results of research any way they like, but without talking nonsense or insisting on erroneous reading.
So as far as I see the results of this particular study indicate that we, as a society, lack tolerance and trust.
To the questions about tolerance, 75 percent of the participants said that they don’t want non-believer neighbors, 72 percent dislike neighbors drinking.
Sixty-seven percent of the respondents don’t want unmarried couples as their neighbors. Sixty-six percent don’t want atheist, 64 percent don’t want Jewish, and 52 percent don’t want Christian neighbors.
Forty-eight percent don’t like extreme rightist/leftist neighbors and 43 percent don’t want American families as neighbors. Thirty-six percent of participants don’t want neighbors if girls in the family wear shorts and 26 percent do not want neighbors of a different race.
As for not trusting others, it is generally measured by the "division phobia."
In this study, 39 percent of respondents believe the Unites States "definitely" wants to divide Turkey, 47 percent say "Yes, the U.S. wants to divide Turkey".
Twenty-eight percent believe the European Union "definitely" wants to divide Turkey as 48 percent believe the EU wants to divide Turkey.
After these findings, participants were asked to prioritize a given list of choices. One shouldn’t be surprised by the result: 62 percent of participants place "religion" at the top of the list.
It is natural to see a lack of tolerance among followers of a religion if the method of declaration is applied in teachings of that particular religion.
Besides, questioning and research are the two concepts that are not allowed. For there is only one truth in religions and the only "authority" knows this fact. Besides, Islamic identity excludes Jews, Christians, atheist, drinkers, and women wearing shorts and swimsuits because Jews and Christians divide us; drinkers, and women in shorts and swimsuits degenerate us.
My interpretation on this specific research is rather introverted:
People who are afraid of others (division) and who believe to be negatively affected by others (degeneration) do not have self-confidence and lack proper personality development.
26 Mayıs 2009
Some of us have written that with Barack Obama’s being the new president of the United States, we would live in peace and calm, and the world wouldn’t be the same old one. I, on the other side, claimed that only the waiter has changed in the U.S. administration kitchen, so to speak; but the appointed in the kitchen have remained unchanged. I also claimed Obama, as all other American presidents, would naturally act on to protect U.S. interests. In fact, without Obama even turns the 100th day at the White House, the kitchen has made a move. Before the elections, Obama had promised to close down the U.S. Guantanamo Bay base but asked $80 million for that. Some Democrats, however, voted "no," and the bill failed in the Senate. Again, despite his promise, Obama couldn’t bring torturers to account for the ill-treatment they committed and failed to reveal the documents proving some "illegal" moves of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Why? Because these are against the almighty interests of the U.S.! Because the Kitchen doesn’t want it!
Earlier this week, North Korea announced a successful underground nuclear test with the power of, reportedly, 10-20 kilotons.
"I decide who will have nuclear weapons," says the U.S. But apparently, North Korea doesn’t care what America says. North Korea is determined to continue with the production of nuclear arms, though makes zigzagging.
Now, a great trouble will arise in the world but North Koreans are getting closer to produce nuclear arms every day.
This new North Korean initiative will encourage another country that insists on having nuclear weapons, Iran. Iranian officials will justly think "Why shouldn’t I dare to what North Korea did?" Obama met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told him that establishment of the Palestinian state is a priority with no pre-conditions.
Netanyahu, in return and I think deservedly, said unless Iran is made to stop nuclear ambitions Israel wouldn’t lean towards the Palestinian state formed by Hamas which itself relies on Iran. Netanyahu considers that as soon as Iran has nuclear weapons, Iranians will take control over the entire Middle East via Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Shiite powers ruling in Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Egypt share similar concerns with Israel.
Obama, on the other hand, wants to convince Iran by the end of the year about not to go for nuclear arms. Israel, however, claims Iran is stealing time under the pretext of negotiations with U.S. It is self-evident through North Korean nuclear test that such a claim is right because North Korea has kept every one busy so far. Early bird catches the worm.
Picture this, North Korea produces atomic bomb in the East Asia. Pakistan having nuclear power is surrendered to Taliban in the Central Asia. In the West Asia, the Middle East, Iran has atomic bomb!
What kind of a world could this be? What would Turkey’s position be in the Middle East?
After answering these two questions, now let’s seek an answer to the following:
In a world where it is impossible to convince North Korea through talks, can Iran be convinced by words only? If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins the Iranian presidential elections on June 12, what is the probability of convincing Iran through negotiations for not producing nuclear arms?
In U.S., will eventually the kitchen be surrendered to the waiter or the other way around?
19 Mayıs 2009
President Abdullah Gül revealed during a trip to Syria what this historic opportunity about the Kurdish issue was that he has kept talking about for days. Or rather, upon hearing conversations between Gül and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, journalists say, "This must have been the historic opportunity." As Gül says, "Civilian, military, all parties are in coordination and cooperation around a common understanding. If one makes something, the other doesn’t try to ruin it," journalists thought, "The historic opportunity must have been cooperation among institutions."
First, I thought of the following after Gül’s remarks: Then it means when an institution (I think the civilian authority) opened the door for something good, the other was trying to shut it (I think this is the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK). I am of the opinion that this statement itself is a historic one. The head of state has revealed something awful. Clearly, the Republic of Turkey was not a state. Institutions acted freely any way they want. And now, for the first time, state institutions happen to cooperate, and the state happens to act like a real state! Let’s be pleased first of all that our state is finally acting like a real state.
And let’s presume that cooperation between institutions is a step forward in the resolution of the Kurdish issue. But still, there is something I don’t get. An issue is resolved by parties in disagreement, not by those in agreement.
Elements that should seek conciliation in the Kurdish issue are not the government and the TSK, but the Republic of Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, no matter what people say.
No matter how much it hurts and how we get angry, this is the fact. The consequences of the March 29 local polls in the Southeast should have awakened those who have been living in dreamland and ignored the PKK as an addressee.
The historic opportunity, as far as I see, is that rival/enemy/opponent sides now have an opportunity to have a deal/come together around a common denominator.
Or, is it that the Republic of Turkey and the PKK happened to reach an agreement on some certain issues that we don’t know of?
In the interview by Milliyet daily’s Hasan Cemal, one of the PKK leaders, Murat Karayılan, said the PKK has given up the separation demand since 1999 and now they want a "democratic, autonomous Kurdistan" based on local autonomy for some certain issues. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan expressed this in 2005 by uttering the words "democratic republic." Both terms suggest a structure of a soft/hard federation. And then a general amnesty demand will follow.
The PKK played its card. Obviously the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, will more or less advocate this in political arenas. Whether they are right or not, we now know what one of the sides wants.
We do not know, however, what kind of bargaining the Republic of Turkey is involved in the resolution of this issue or whether it has a road map in order to have strategic negotiations. If any, we wouldn’t know if they would turn out to be null and void, as it was the case in the road map prepared for a deal with Armenia. The president is the supreme resort representing the Republic of Turkey. The president should clearly reveal what he means by "historic opportunity" in order to convince us that this is not another historic excuse to keep us busy.
Instead of playing a game of deductions, let’s ask Mr. President: If the historic opportunity is no tactical game, what is the solid strategy it leans on?
12 Mayıs 2009
Ömer Dinçer became the Prime Ministry Undersecretary and the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy. And now he is appointed as minister. Who is Ömer Dinçer? He is a faculty member who was accused of plagiarism in the book titled "Business Administration" which he co-wrote with Asst. Prof. Yahya Fidan. He was found guilty by the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, in Oct. 2005 and stripped of his academic tenure. The YÖK ruling emphasized that he used excerpts without any reference in 32 different points in the book.
What is plagiarism? It is "use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." It is simply to steal someone else’s ideas!
Let’s say YÖK made a mistake or was involved in politics. But the Ankara First Administrative Court approved the decision that Dinçer committed plagiarism and overruled Dinçer’s decision to appeal. (Jan. 2008) Following YÖK’s "plagiarism decision" Dinçer appeared in so many TV programs and said he would appeal to the Council of State. But following the First Administrative Court’s decision, he backed off. Therefore, Dinçer himself admitted that he committed plagiarism.
After he was appointed as the new Labor and Social Security Minister, I got in touch with a few academics abroad, some of who are Turks. They couldn’t believe the appointment of someone who committed plagiarism as a minister. They said a person committing the biggest shame in the academic world could not even be a deputy, not alone a minister.
"Here we live in Turkey!" I replied to them.
Picture this. Minister of Labor chairs a commission for minimum wage increase. Trade unions insist on some certain figure and the minister resists to them. He makes an attempt to say, "According to the scientific study I askedÉ" Let’s say that you are a trade union representative, what would you do? Or what would you want to say to him but not?
I thought that opposition would be raised against Dinçer’s appointment and the main opposition party would raise hell. I waited for some time. But I was wrong. Still, I erred because the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, deputy Neclat Arat was also found guilty of plagiarism in 1982.
The pot calls the kettle black! I have waited for the leftist-nationalists to raise hell but I was wrong again because their professor Kemal Alemdaroğlu also committed plagiarism! The same old! I accept that all politicians are the same but don’t we have faculty members, academics and scientists in this country? Isn’t there a single scientist who has devoted himself in science Turkey? Aren’t they offended by Dinçer’s appointment as far as professional ethics are concerned? Why is no one asking anything?
From now on, if a professor warns a Ph.D. student, "My son, don’t even think about plagiarism!" And if the student asks why, how would the professor answer to this? I am deeply hurt as I watch how science cheaply surrenders to politics in my country!
5 Mayıs 2009
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan finally announced his March 29 Cabinet. He radically revised the government. However, I will today dwell upon Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu as the new foreign minister because foreign politics is my area of interest, and I am interested in Davutoğlu’s different personality.
It is a fact that Davutoğlu is an intellectual and makes a great deal of conceptual contributions to foreign policy as an academic as well as an effective and eligible adviser to Turkish foreign politics.
I am delighted to have conversations with him on occasions. Davutoğlu’s approach to questions that are quite outrageous for him is extremely moderate.
If I may express this through his notions, Turkey follows a "multi-center" foreign policy and has a "central" position in its region in a way to have individual and direct contacts with each country.
It is voiced quite often that such policy has saved Turkey from the U.S. furrow so to speak. I, in the new period, will follow Davutoğlu especially on some points that I have trouble understanding.
I am a "result-oriented" person. And I look at things in this perspective.
1) I think "multi-center" foreign policy has become a foreign policy with no direction. I am having a hard time understanding which direction our foreign policy is taking Turkey. Of course, Turkey should have friendly ties with its neighbors, but we should still drop an anchor to the European Union membership. What kind of a foreign policy does Davutoğlu follow? For instance, will he encourage the opening of Turkish sea and airports to ships and airplanes from southern Cyprus?
2) We often hear of Turkey’s role as a broker between Syria and Israel, but we see nothing. What kind of solid results do we expect in the upcoming term?
3) The objective has been set as to transform Hezbollah and Hamas in order to include them in the international community. For that, these two organizations should lay down arms and stop terror. But so far we have supported them to have benefits in the West. There is no solid result in the end. Will we see a transformation in Hezbollah and Hamas similar to that of al-Fatah in the new period?
4) Iran and Syria want to have direct relations with the United States. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have ties with U.S. and the EU already. So what does "being a central country" in the Middle East mean other than being a mediator between Hamas-Hezbollah and the West?
5) Establishing friendly ties with Armenia should be at the cost of losing Azerbaijan. How will Turkey set the balance?
6) Both Russia and the United States have different Caucasus policies. To whom will Turkey be closer in the Caucasus?
7) Will be Davutoğlu willing to involve the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, to assist the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq? Will the TSK become a protector in northern Iraq? For such protection, how will we re-gain "our Kurds" that the AKP has lost already? For instance, will we declare "partial amnesty" for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, terrorists in order to make them lay down arms?
8) Afghanistan and Pakistan are about to be lost. To what degree will Turkey support the United States in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region?
9) Since we are to follow a foreign policy independent from the United States, why is Davutoğlu’s U.S. visit being praised so much?
28 Nisan 2009
Turkish foreign policy has recently been based on several hypotheses: 1) The more Turkey increases its bilateral relations with neighboring countries, the more it will have advantages in the world.
2) Geological and strategic situation of Turkey makes it an indispensable country.
3) The more Turkey claims the Middle East, the more it will create a powerful image in the world.
4) With the U.S. President Barack Obama, a new world order will be established and Turkey will take its place in this equation.
Turkey took successful steps in one-on-one relations with its neighbors (1st assumption) and became a messenger between some countries, organization and the Western world to a certain degree. But I think Turkey has exaggerated this relative weight and made evaluation errors in other hypotheses. Turkey is located in an exceptional land between the Middle East, as the owner of 64 percent of the world’s energy basins and the West, as the number one suitor of these basins.
As far as the historic and cultural infrastructure of civilizations is concerned, Turkey has the qualities of both sides, though not truly. Turkey is familiar with both parties. However, the West in order to see Turkey as its ally asks Turkey to turn its face to the West even if it holds hand with the Middle East, and asks Turkey to drop an anchor to the West no matter how its foreign policy is diversified.
But recently the Western world is having serious reservations about where Turkey places itself. In the process that has begun with the Davos forum and made a peak with the Rasmussen incident, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become to give an impression that Turkey at the same time backs the Middle East in Europe. He rolled up sleeves to represent Hamas at the United Nations as though the anchor was dropped in the Middle East.
I regretfully see that Turkey has gained nothing in the process. (See: The Rasmussen bargaining). And reservations against Turkey are increased in the West.
On the other hand, an Obama image has been created somehow in which we all better know that he is a good Muslim. Columnists have begun to dream about a new world and a new perception of Turkey with Obama. They all announced this will be something really good. However, everyone knew that Obama made some promises regarding the Armenian issue and did everything to mellow Obama’s stance in the subject. A new initiative between Turkey and Armenia was expected to be the reunion of Turkey and U.S. But, that didn’t happen!
Although Obama didn’t utter the "genocide" word but he became the first U.S. president who used the most serious expressions against us on Apr. 24. Now we see that the government in Armenia is being collapsed due to the extreme nationalist Tashnak Party protests normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, and that Azerbaijan turns its back to us and asks price increase in natural gas sale. I think this must have been the meaning of "go farther and fare worse"!
And I think the merit in foreign politics is like being able to carry so many glasses in hand without dropping even one. Look at the situation: EU countries are colder towards us, Iran never asks us to be a mediator. Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah have not decided about Turkey yet, our closest ally Azerbaijan is drifting apart and we didn’t curry favor with neither Armenia nor U.S. It is time for a wake-up call!
21 Nisan 2009
The second indictment had helped me better understand what Ergenekon is because the first indictment just made me more confused. However, the 12th detention wave of this case scared me off. My mind doesn’t work in such a way to say that an ill university president or a person cannot commit a crime. Everyone can commit a crime at the cost of paying the price for it. Lombroso, a leading figure of crime anthropology, claims that crime is the product of being an organism and that some people are guilty even at birth. But today we agree that everyone can commit a crime.
What confuses me is the razzle-dazzle:
Murders by unknown perpetrators, JİTEM (gendarmerie intelligence), Susurluk, the Feb. 28 process, the Gold Coin and Moonlight military coup attempts, the Association for Supporting Contemporary Living, or ÇYDD, the Republic allies and the "Father send me to school" campaign in addition to so many others. É How come all these are considered together? What is this mixture presenting? And what has the Ergenekon organization got to do with this mix? Is this only one organization or a confederation of organizations?
One can say that everyone who is interrogated and arrested in relation with Ergenekon shares something in common without looking at their backgrounds: being pro-coup! That’s fine, but hundreds of murder suspects are on trial in criminal courts. Although they are held for "committing murder" none is tried in a single case! All are put before judges in separate courts.
I believe bloody murderers, shameless eavesdroppers, those who ask for coups, who support coup attempts, who say "I wish there could be a coup now," who want to get rid of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, at any case, and those who chanted "No to Sharia" or "No to Sharia, no to coups" are among the Ergenekon members. And on top, they are talking about different "coups" at different "times." Some do not know the other members at all. And an important part of these members who keenly seek a chance to commit a coup have not even been interrogated yet in the frame of the 12th detention wave.
The biggest legitimacy for a case is its recognition by the public. Of course overall acceptance of a case in the public eye is not possible, but a reasonable number of people should agree on that particular case. We still have those who are low enough to point their fingers to new targets and ask, "I wonder if such and such organizations have some connections with Ergenekon." We still have those who are perplexed enough to violate the law and say, "You are held by procedures, but you are about to lose the essence."
But I am afraid this case is gradually losing credibility before the public eye for the latest interrogations hit a blow on "reasonable doubt," as Turgut Kazan put it, that legitimizes interrogations and searches. (see: Vatan daily, April 19) Several steps in the Ergenekon case are compelling the public conscience about the reasonable doubt based on reasonable evidence! The last step was the biggest blow on the conscience.
My problem is this: Murderers, unknown perpetrators, coup attempters, coup committers and doomsday sayers are being tried in this case. The Ergenekon case is helping the country take a huge step by bringing these people to court.
But if you compare the suspects with pro-coup, coup toadies, the AKP’s enemies, anti-democracy supporters and if you include the "Father send me to school" campaigners among them, you will not be able to sentence the real perpetrators before the public conscience.
14 Nisan 2009
The governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has claimed to follow a "multi-dimensional foreign policy" since 2002. Turkey has exerted a great deal of effort to have bilateral relations with all countries serving its interests since then.
The approach of taking a stance in international arena under the shadow of the United States has come to an end in the process. We have heard success stories on occasion. The government has adopted a different approach in Caucasia, reached Africa, and built close ties with organizations that are declared as terror networks yet have undeniable influence in the Middle East. These organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah have not been deterred from terror but through Turkey the West has managed to have contacts with them as well as countries like Iran and Syria supporting them.
Turkey’s foreign relations were more of a role of a postman rather than mediation. Since the West benefited from them Turkey has gained a relative advantage before the Western countries. But I think Turkey’s brokerage between Israel and Syria has been shelved after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s challenging remarks against Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum held in Davos. Architecture of this new foreign policy period is Erdoğan’s Chief Adviser Ahmet Davutoğlu. Successes and failures of this new term will most likely be on his shoulders.
I wanted to warn him here though against a big danger waiting for Turkish foreign policy. This "multi-dimensional foreign policy" has introduced new openings but let’s not forget that such viewpoint should have to drop an anchor to something or somewhere. Turkey, as any other country, should have a point of perspective. Every country, even the United States, has such anchors in foreign politics. For instance, the United States’ anchor in Europe is Britain and in the Middle East it is Israel.
The AKP government announced Turkey’s anchor to be the European Union in 2002. In this direction, the administration clearly fought for it until late 2004 and was given support at the beginning by columnists like me. However, Turkey has lost its anchor since early 2005. And in order to keep the said relative advantage, Turkey now looks like a country trying to drop an anchor to the Middle East for resembling ideological approaches. Turkish foreign policy in this period also set an example of strangeness in organizational structure. There is an apparent foreign minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan. But no one takes him seriously and he is nicknamed abroad as "babycan." On the other hand, there are two real foreign ministers: Erdoğan with his Davutoğlu team and President Abdullah Gül with his consultants. Yet they are acting differently.