2009 08 03
Recently read: Sowing Crisis

Rashid Khalidi. Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East

I read and enjoyed Khalidi’s The Iron Cage back in January, and so got this, Khalidi’s latest book, out of the library shortly afterwards (I’m only getting around to writing about it now). Sowing Crisis is a more sharply polemical book than The Iron Cage and I liked it a bit less, partly because I have a limited appetite for polemic and partly because Khalidi isn’t really great at it. (He’s not awful; just not great.) Nevertheless, there is a lot in this wide-ranging review of American foreign policy to learn from and by stimulated by. Khalidi’s main objective seems to be to try to get Americans to understand how non-Americans see American foreign policy. This is a worthwhile project, and Sowing Crisis is a worthwhile book.

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2005 09 04
Orhan Pamuk

Posted by in: Political issues, Turkey

I really hope they leave Mr. Pamuk alone. All that energy would be better spent on an honest discussion of Turkey’s past.

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2003 05 15
Marshall on Wolfowitz

Josh Marshall takes a look at Wolfowitz’s offensive comments about Turkey last week. Check it out.

One complaint about the piece, though. Marhsall recycles the stupid isn’t-it-counter-intuitive! idea that Turkey’s military has been a force for democracy in Turkey:

Over the decades, the military played a pivotal role in keeping Turkey united, secular, pro-Western, and —- contradictory as it may seem —- democratic.

I confess it does seem contradictory to me. I think this cold war canard got off the ground partly because the West so often confused secularism with progress (it certainly is, in my opinion, all other things being equal – the problem is that other things are often not equal). What makes this position so absurd is the role that Turkey’s military played in persecuting so many of its own citizens for so long. We shouldn’t forget that the Turkish military contributed significantly to the mess in South Eastern Turkey.

Surely we should refuse to call a country a democracy when a large minority of its citizens gets shafted so thoroughly. And surely we should refuse to credit an institution within a country with safeguarding democracy when it bears primary responsibility for the mess.

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