Losing Turkey

Losing Turkey

Posted By Ryan Mauro On June 11, 2010 @ 12:30 am In FrontPage | 24 Comments

The most significant outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident is that there can no longer be any doubt that Turkey has joined the anti-Western bloc that includes Hamas, Iran and Syria. The Muslim country was once devotedly secular, an ally of Israel, and remains a member of NATO, but under the direction of Prime Minister Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (often referred to as the AKP), Turkey has gone in the completely opposite direction with enormous strategic consequences.

“Unfortunately, the AKP government of Mr. Erdogan and the oil-rich regime of Qatar joined the regional bloc opposing the more traditional governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco,” Dr. Walid Phares told FrontPage.

Erdogan’s turn to the other side is not the result of a single incident such as Operation Cast Lead or the Israeli raid on the flotilla, but is the culmination of an agenda long held by Erdogan and the AKP.

“In fact, it is not secular Turkey that we see moving against the U.S., West, Israel and Arab moderates. It is the AKP Islamist cabinet which is uncovering its long-term ideological agenda. The West should have projected this since 2002,” Dr. Phares said, referring to the year in which Erdogan’s party won a majority in the Turkish parliament.

Erdogan was imprisoned in 1998 for his involvement with the banned Welfare Party, which the Turkish government considered Islamist. Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describes [1] the Welfare Party as the “motherboard of Turkish Islamists since the 1980s,” saying it was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan was specifically punished for reading [2] a poem at one speech with the lines, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.”

In 2001, he founded the AKP, which took a more moderate line, portraying itself as committed to separation of mosque and state but “faithful governance,” as Dr. Essam El-Erian, the chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political bureau, described [3] the AKP’s “moderate Islamist” ideology. There was no anti-Western rhetoric and the party strongly supported membership in the European Union. The group won a large victory in the 2002 elections, resulting in Erdogan taking the post of Prime Minister.

Dr. El-Erian praised Erdogan’s victory, saying that it was the result of the “exposing of the failure of the secular trend.” El-Erian confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had close ties to the AKP, but the West treated Turkey as if nothing had changed. It wasn’t until Turkey steadfastly refused to allow U.S. soldiers to transit their territory to overthrow Saddam Hussein that the West began questioning the allegiance of Erdogan’s government.

The Erdogan government soon began a concerted effort to fuel anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment, knowing that such feelings help the AKP politically and hurt its opponents in the secular military that have long ties to the West. The Turkish media consistently reported [4] alleged U.S. atrocities, fanning the already massive anti-war sentiment. The outrageous claims can only be compared to the anti-Israeli propaganda seen in the Arab world and Iran, echoing similar themes such as the use of chemical weapons against civilians and the harvesting of organs from killed Iraqis.

The AKP won an even larger share of the vote in the July 2007 election and had even more dominance over the government. Since then, the ideology of Erdogan has become more apparent as Turkish opinion has become less hostile to anti-Western Islamism.  Shortly after the victory, Turkey’s moves towards Iran and other enemies of the West became more visible and aggressive.

Turkey began entertaining the prospect of Iran’s natural gas being delivered to European markets through its territory, and the two countries launched joint military attacks against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. The Party of Free Life for Kurdistan, or PJAK, claimed it actually saw Turkish officers working alongside the Iranian military. Newsmax.com reported [5] that eight Turkish officers were in Iran coordinating the attacks with the Revolutionary Guards.

In the spring of 2009, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed militia leader whose followers killed dozens of American soldiers in Iraq, met [6] with Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul for “political consultations.” Most recently, Turkey has opposed sanctions on Iran and helped put together a deal with Brazil meant to delay any United Nations measures despite Iran’s lack of cooperation on the nuclear issue.

Erdogan’s government simultaneously became more anti-Israeli, particularly once the Israeli military offensive into Gaza began in response to the rocket attacks of Hamas. Erdogan went so far as to predict [7] that Israel’s actions “would bring it to self-destruction,” saying “Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents.” He accused [8] Jewish-controlled media outlets of “finding unfounded excuses to justify targeting of schools, mosques and hospitals.”

On January 29, 2009, Erdogan publicly confronted [9] Israeli President Peres at the World Economic Forum over the Israeli offensive. When he was denied extra time to continue his criticism of Israel, he stormed out. Erdogan was a hero overnight in the Muslim world.

Soon after, an exhibit opened [10] in a major state-controlled metro in Istanbul that included many viciously anti-Israeli and anti-American cartoons, portraying Israeli soldiers as massacring innocent people with American weapons. The AKP won the March 29 local elections, further cementing their hold and convincing Erdogan that he was politically safe to follow the agenda he held from the beginning. Later that year, Israel had to confront [11] Turkey over anti-Israeli propaganda on prime-time state-controlled television.

In October, Turkey refused to allow Israel to participate in annual military exercises also involving Italy and the U.S. Instead, Turkey and Syria announced [12] that they would hold their own joint exercises. The Turkish-Syrian alliance began shortly after Erdogan came to power, with Syrian President Bashar Assad visiting Turkey and a free trade agreement being signed.

Turkey has also moved closer to Sudan, refusing [13] to describe the situation in Darfur as a genocide. Erdogan’s government also opposes the International Criminal Court’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir for human rights violations. His defense of Bashir is that “no Muslim could perpetrate a genocide.”

Now, Turkey is taking center stage in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident. Turkey is openly considering cutting off all diplomatic ties with Israel and is saying that its warships will escort future convoys to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. There are reports that Erdogan himself may actually join a convoy. Erdogan now openly says [14], “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization…They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.”

He was among the first to accept Hamas after it was elected in Gaza, and he is calling [15] their rule a “democracy” based on elections alone. Democracy is much more than elections, but Erdogan, like the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, want to equate democracy with elections so as to give themselves legitimacy as they move against the other pillars of democracy. Professor Barry Rubin says [16] that as the AKP won election victories, the Erdogan government “repressed opposition and arrested hundreds of critics, bought up 40 percent of the media, and installed its people in the bureaucracy.”

Today, the government has begun the country’s “largest-ever crackdown” on the military, prosecuting [17] 33 current and former military officers for allegedly planning a coup to overthrow the AKP government in 2003 including the former head of the special forces. Those arrested have been accused of planning to carry out acts of terrorism including the bombing of mosques, which they deny. Given the military’s pride in acting as the guardian of Turkey’s secularism, it isn’t surprising that elements of the military would desire to see the AKP overthrown. However, this could be an Islamist attempt to weaken the military and paint them as dangerous and anti-Muslim.

Erdogan’s defense of the vessel owned by the IHH, [18] a Turkish Islamist group tied to Hamas and other terrorist activity, is particularly insightful. Any true opponent of terrorism and radical Islamism would ban the group or at least officially investigate them. In 1997, the Turkish authorities raided the IHH’s office in Istanbul and made numerous arrests. IHH operatives were found with weapons-related materials and the French counterterrorism magistrate said that they were planning on supporting jihadists in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

“The essential goal of this Association was to illegally arm its membership for overthrowing democratic, secular, and constitutional order present in Turkey and replacing it with an Islamic state founded on the Shariah,” the French magistrate’s report said. [19]

If the goal of the IHH is to establish Sharia Law in Turkey, and Erdogan’s government is describing them as a “charity,” what does that say about Erdogan’s plans? The Washington Post has raised alarm [20] over this connection, noting the IHH leadership’s praise for Erdogan.

The West’s loss of Turkey has frightening strategic consequences. They are so frightening that the West refused to acknowledge the trend until it became undeniable in recent weeks. Professor Juan Cole, who already was a strident critic of Israel, bluntly states, [21] “Strategically, if the U.S. had to choose between Turkey and Israel, it would have to choose Turkey.” The pressure on the U.S. to restrain Israel so as to court the stronger bloc has now become greater than ever.

The situation is even more precarious for other countries in the region previously bonding together to oppose Iran. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are hostile to Iran’s ambitions now face an even more threatening bloc that has been enlarged by the defection of Turkey. The temptation for them to surrender the mantle of leadership to the Iranian-Syrian-Turkish bloc in order to save themselves will now reach unprecedented levels, regardless of whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons or not.

To make matters worse, Erdogan’s prestige as the preeminent challenger of Israel will lead to competition with Iran, sparking an escalation where each side tries to establish superior anti-Israeli and anti-Western credentials. Israel is now in its most isolated and dangerous situation since its birth in 1948.

The Turkish Conundrum

The Turkish Conundrum  
Monday, 07 June 2010
Baffled by the strict secular culture of their modern state and the European Union’s opposition to Turkish membership, at least not until a decade from now, more Turks feel nostalgia for the glory days of their lost Ottoman Empire. In the recent flotilla incident, off the coast of the Gaza, “a hardcore of 40 Turkish jihadists on board the Mavi Marmara was responsible for the violence that led to nine deaths and dozens of injuries on the flotilla taking aid to Gaza, the Israeli government claimed.”Perhaps, the Turks’ intention was to flex their muscles for the prospect of leadership of the Islamic Ummah and attract the attention of the Muslim world. And the shortest distance to achieve this goal is to wrestle with none other than the most despised state in the Middle East, the State of Israel.  Since time immemorial, the Jews have been victims of hatred and violence by many groups and many nations and have been used as scapegoats.

Israel, in reality, is a culmination of thousands of years of gestation during which the Jewish people, dispersed through much of the world, endured immense degrees and varieties of suffering. The Nazi murderers and their collaborators capped the crimes committed against Jewish people by brutally slaughtering six million innocent men, women and children. But today, Israel is a strong and sovereign state yet, hardly safe. She is surrounded by nations and peoples who are constantly bent on her destruction.

Since 2002, the Turkish military has been slowly losing its once strong grasp over the government of Turkey. The year 2002 was the first time in 15 years that a single party government was formed. Erdogan’s election as Prime Minster in 2002 and again in 2007 shows the huge support the AKP had gained among the Turkish population. This was followed by Abdullah Gul’s election as President in 2007, making this the first time the two most important offices of state were occupied by devout Muslims.

Despite an earlier close relationship between Israel and Turkey, it has slowly begun to fall apart.  Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been strained since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002. The tension became obvious when Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed off the stage

at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos after a heated debate on Gaza with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

angrily told the Turkish parliament last Tuesday that the “bloody massacre” of at least four Turkish activists among nine passengers slain by Israeli naval commandos was a turning point in the long-standing alliance.

In April 2009, at a joint news conference in Turkey, President Obama

said: “I’m trying to make a statement about the importance of Turkey, not just to the United States but to the world. I think that where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation, a predominantly Muslim nation — a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents,” he continued, “that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous, that there are not tensions — inevitable tensions between cultures — which I think is extraordinarily important.”

In June 2007, the Pew Research Center polled citizens of 47 countries on their attitude toward the US. Turkey turned up at rock bottom, with 83% of respondents holding an unfavorable view of the United States and only 9% of Turks expressing a favorable view, compared to 21% of Egyptians and 29% of Indonesians. In 2000, 52% of Turks expressed a favorable view of the United States. This is not a general result. Only 46% of Nigerians held a favorable view of the United States in 2000, for example, compared to 70% in 2007. Here is the 2005 research on the Anatomy of Anti-Americanism in Turkey by the Brooking Institution

.

There is an important lesson to be learned from the drama presently unfolding in Turkey. Modern Turkey, the only democracy in the Islamic Middle East, was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

. He abolished the caliphate in 1924, replaced Islamic rules with modern secular laws and barred the mosques from politics. Ever since, the mosque has been fighting and gradually succeeding in dragging Turkey back under its rule. Presently, what the Western mainstream media calls a “mildly Islamist” party rules Turkey under the rightfully suspicious eyes of the secularist heirs of Ataturk, the Turkish military. All kinds of Western leftists loudly proclaimed that there was nothing to worry about, that the forthcoming Turkish election that was going to install “mildly Islamists” as president as well as the Prime Minister is no cause for the millions of Turkish secularists to pour into the streets against such an outcome.

Why all the fuss? After all, the “mildly Islamists” are not all that bad and they are coming to power through free elections, the leftists keep preaching. In reality, even coining the term, “mildly Islamist” is a clear instance of the leftists’ treachery. Being “mildly Islamist” is as plausible as being mildly pregnant. There is no such a thing as mild Islam. It only starts mildly, just the way Muhammad himself started it in Mecca. Then, it builds momentum and settles for nothing less than the total imposition of its dogma and will. Being “mildly Islamist” is only the head of the camel poking into the room, wherever the head of the animal goes, if it is not chopped off, the body eventually follows. And the body of Islam is a disease-bearing body that will infect the healthy secular societies.

The Turkish people demonstrating

against creeping Islamism in their government are still a minority, a minority that has first-hand experience with both secularism and Islamism. They also see the horrors of Islamism next door in Iran and are rightfully alarmed by the ever-encroaching Islamism in their government. They know full well that they must resist the backward march of their country and must do all they can to protect their precious freedom. Do we, in America and the West, have the same sense and the will to forestall “mild Islamism” from evolving into a real Islamism?

Just a sobering note, “Mild Islamism” is already here in our country, the Muslim cab driver the of Minneapolis Airport’s refusal to ferry passengers with alcohol or even those with seeing-eye dogs; Muslim inmates’ demand to be served only halal food ; building of a 13-story high mosque at the ground zero

; Muslim students badger universities for special facilities for their meetings; and, the first ever Muslim Congressman’s oath of office by swearing on the Quran and not the Bible.

Mild Islam is not all that obtrusive, since it is similar to the early stages of pregnancy. Yet, pregnancy it is. And before long the full-term beast will make its appearance. If we don’t want to deal with the beast, we need to prevent the pregnancy in the first place.

By advocating “moderate Islam” on the Turkish model, the United States undermines the secular state founded by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. That is perhaps the reason why many secular Turkish nationalists despise America just as much as Turkish Islamists.

We do well to pay close attention to the words of Prime Minister Erdogan himself. Speaking at Kanal D TV’s Arena program, Prime Minister Erdogan commented on the term “moderate Islam”, often used in the West to describe AKP and said, “These descriptions are very ugly; it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” And he is right.

Talking Turkey Where is the apology to Israel — or, for that matter, to the Armenians?…

Talking Turkey

Posted By Dov Fischer On June 7, 2010 @ 12:25 am In FrontPage | 8 Comments

Turkey has been at the center of the now infamous flotilla incident involving a Hamas-connected Turkish “NGO” [1] which attempted to run an Israeli naval blockade off the coast of Gaza. The flotilla was supported financially by Hamas and peopled primarily by their Turkish allies. [2] It was purportedly seeking to transport 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Gaza.  But in fact, Israel supplies Gaza with 15,000 tons of food, medicines, and related humanitarian support every week [3].  There seems to be more here than meets the eye.

Turkey remains a prime transit route for Southwest Asian heroin into Western Europe. International trafficking organizations that operate within the country, from Ankara to Istanbul and beyond, excel at evading narcotics blockades and interdicts. With all the focus on Turks sailing towards the Hamas seas, defying Israel’s determined effort to bar delivery of military weapons and material to the terrorist government that runs Gaza, one wonders how genteel Turkey’s own internal borders have been.  Does her treatment of religious and ethnic minorities model Western humanitarian values? Consider Turkey’s treatment of her Armenian, Catholic, and Kurdish minorities.

Adolf Hitler, a personal friend and ally of Grand Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini, the founder of modern-day Palestinian Arab nationalism [4], said in 1939:  “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” [5] Certainly not Istanbul.  For nearly a century, Turkey steadfastly has refused to acknowledge their barbaric genocide between 1915-1918 of 1,500,000 Armenian men, women, and children. Turkey will not apologize or even acknowledge the genocide [6] they perpetrated, assuring that one of the most heinous war crimes of the twentieth century festers unresolved. American President Theodore Roosevelt [7] contemporaneously wrote in 1918: “[T]he Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey is to condone it…[T]he failure to deal radically with the Turkish horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.”  British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said [8]: “In 1915 the Turkish Government began and ruthlessly carried out the infamous general massacre and deportation of Armenians in Asia Minor…There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons.”  In 1981, Ronald Reagan urged in a Presidential proclamation [9] that the lessons of the Nazi Holocaust never be forgotten “like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it.”

Throughout the week, Israel has acknowledged and publicly regretted [10] the loss of human life due to the flotilla incident, even as Israel has explained why she must continue blockading Gaza – namely, because recent experience has evidenced again [11] and again [12] that Hamas supporters will not stop trying to ship rockets, grenades, and anti-tank missiles to Israel’s bordering enemies to launch terror assaults against Jewish civilian communities. Meanwhile, Turkey still denies the Armenian Genocide ever happened.

As for the country’s Catholics, Bishop Luigi Padovese, a Roman Catholic bishop, was stabbed to death in Turkey [13] on Thursday shortly before he was scheduled to depart for nearby Cyprus to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.  Three years ago, three missionaries’ throats were cut out [14] in central Turkey. Their deaths were meant to send a message. The men were disemboweled, and “their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed…Fingers were chopped off…Noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open.” One was stabbed 156 times, another 99 times, and their “throats were sliced from ear to ear,” according to International Christian Concern [15], an American organization based in Washington, D.C.   There is no record of sorrow from Rachel Corrie [16] backers or the IHH.

Under the Turkish Constitution enacted by Kemal Ataturk nearly a century ago, ethnic minorities were barred from expressing cultural distinctiveness in Turkey.  Thus, even as the United States is home to many foreign-language television and radio stations, the Kurdish language was absolutely banned in 1991.  Expressions of Kurdish nationalism continue to be repressed; Kurds in Turkey are restricted from giving their children Kurdish names [17]. Turkey has moved closer to the governments of Syria and Iran [18] in dealing with Kurdish nationalism.  In 1995, Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman ever elected to Turkish parliament, was sentenced to fifteen years incarceration for “separatist speech,” and her political party was barred. While she was incarcerated in Turkish prison, the European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov Prize in Human Rights. (By contrast, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset was aboard the Gaza flotilla [19] and returned safely to Parliament after the it was stopped.)  In the 1990s, the Turkish government was spending some $8 billion annually deploying 300,000 troops in southeastern Turkey [20] to suppress Kurdish nationalism.  For numerical perspective, consider that President Obama announced last week that he is dispatching 1,200 National Guard troops to provide administrative support [21] along the porous American border with Mexico.

Turkey killed approximately 25,000 Kurds in the mid-1990s, destroying some 3,000 Kurdish villages during the effort to repress Kurdish nationalism and producing more than 2,000,000 Kurdish refugees.  According to Minority Rights Group International, in a report funded by the European Union, [22] as many as 40% of Kurdish women in Turkey are illiterate and nearly half the children of Kurdish refugees receive no education.  In addition, the government obstructs Armenian and Greek minorities’ school educational efforts.  The Turkish war against the Kurds is so visceral that it threatened Turkey’s willingness to join with American troops against Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda in neighboring Iraq. In an official EU 2006 “Progress Report” on Turkey’s fitness [23] for acceptance in the European Union, it was concluded inter alia that “Turkey [still] needs to significantly improve the situation of fundamental rights in a number of areas and address the problems that minorities are facing.”

Now that the world has been talking Israel for the past week, slowly coming to understand more fully why Israel needs to protect her borders from Hamas state-sponsored terrorism in Gaza, it seems it’s time to talk Turkey.

Dov Fischer is a legal affairs consultant and adjunct professor of the law of civil procedure and advanced torts. He was formerly Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and writes extensively on political, cultural, and religious issues.  He is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine and blogs at www.rabbidov.com [24]

Turkey Responsible for Flotilla Deaths

Turkey Responsible for Flotilla Deaths

June 2, 2010 | David A. Ridenour V.P.
The National Center for Public Policy Research
The international community should be denouncing Turkey, not Israel, for the loss of life on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla.”

That’s because Turkey, the flag state of the ship, had an obligation to ensure that the ships making up the flotilla adhered to international law.

It didn’t.

Though neither Turkey nor Israel are parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the treaty presumably spells out what the states ratifying the treaty believe to be acceptable rules of behavior. Many of those countries are now, rather hypocritically, denouncing Israel.

The Free Gaza Movement announced its intention to breach Israel’s barricade of Gaza – requiring it to violate Israel’s territorial waters.

Article 19 of the Law of the Sea Treaty specifies that “any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal state” or “the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws or regulations of the coastal state” are deemed “prejudicial to the peace, good order or security” of that state. This flotilla – as with ones before it – would have done both if allowed to proceed.

While Article 19 only gives the coastal state the authority to act within its territorial waters, the bloodshed may well have been greater had Israel waited until then. If reports are accurate that some activists carried arms, Israeli commandos would have lost the element of surprise.

It also appears that Israel may have been within international norms in boarding the ship as all states have an obligation under Articles 109 and 110 of the treaty to stop unauthorized broadcasts (those intended for the general public, but not distress calls), including in international waters. The so-called “Freedom Flotilla” was broadcasting its voyage live.

Blood is on Turkey’s hands.

President Obama should do the right thing and recall the U.S. ambassador.

Gaza Flotilla Organizer Puts Lie To “Humanitarian” Purpose

Gaza Flotilla Organizer Puts Lie To “Humanitarian” Purpose

Adam Shapiro, one of the organizers of flotillas to break the sea blockade of Gaza in 2009 and again in 2010, was interviewed on PBS. In the interview, Shapiro made clear that the primary purpose of the flotilla was political.

Only upon prompting by Gwen Ifill did Shapiro even mention a supposed humanitarian purpose:

see video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJoKlLOHPcY&feature=player_embedded#!

Shapiro was right to the extent that he recognizes the blockade as political, and the flotilla’s purpose primarily as political. The shipping of humanitarian supplies merely was the excuse and the tactic.

Much like the internationalists who have aligned themselves with Islamists on the West Bank to protest the barrier built by Israel to stop suicide bombers, the goal is the destruction of Israel.

Whatever it takes they will do, and it if means putting civilians in harms way to gain publicity and international condemnation of Israel, they will do that.

Istanbul and Moscow: The Capitals of an Emerging Axis of Evil

Istanbul and Moscow: The Capitals of an Emerging Axis of Evil

Joel J. Sprayregen

I logged over 15,000 air miles in the past three weeks, my ports of call including Moscow, Kiev, Istanbul and London.  I enjoyed opportunities to exchange views with informed leaders of government, business and think tanks.  Changes — many repugnant to believe in — are proceeding rapidly in each country I visited.  I choose to focus on changes in Turkey and Russia which are harmful to the national interests of the United States.

Turkey presents the more immediate concern.  Ataturk’s secular republic, established after the Ottoman collapse in World War 1, was long hailed as the enlightened model for Muslim countries.  Turkey is pivotal because of its location as the boundary between Europe and the Middle East (remember, Napoleon said “Geography is destiny”), its large population, industrial capacity (15th largest economy in world) and formidable army (second largest in NATO).  For more than a half-century after World War 2, Turkey anchored NATO’s front-line southeast flank against Soviet/Russian aggression and even (until 2004) against Saddam Hussein.  Turkey evidenced democratic values in striking contrast to the Muslim despotisms in neighboring Iran, Iraq and Syria, the latter two countries sometimes abetting Kurdish terrorism against Turkey.
The Dismantling of Ataturk’s Secular Republic
That rosy view of Turkey has vanished.  Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and his AK Party are dismantling the foundations of the secular republic and pursuing Islamist domestic and foreign policies.  This process is facilitated by the corrupt ineptitude of sclerotic secular political parties.  It was also facilitated by oafish bungling of European Union officials.  EU officials titillated Turkish desires for membership but were blindsided when Europeans predictably balked at making 72 million Turks citizens of Europe and extending borders of the EU (which aspires to be a United States of Europe) to the suburbs of Damascus and Baghdad.  Europeans remembered what Napoleon had said.  Turks, a justifiably proud people, resent Europe’s rebuff.
Exacerbating their misjudgments, EU officials insisted that the powers of the Turkish army be curbed.  This suited Erdogan because he knew that the army was the historic guardian of secularism.  Aggravating the exacerbation, the Europeans insisted that Turkey empower its AK-dominated Parliament to assume powers of the courts to protect the secular republic.  All this was coming to a head while I was in Istanbul.  The Parliament was able to abolish some but not all judicial prerogatives.  Other initiatives–including court-packing proposals reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt’s which enflamed Americans in the 1930s–may be submitted to referenda in coming months. Turkish friends told me that–although it is a long shot–Erdogan’s remaining Islamist constitutional initiatives could yet be defeated by voters.
Turkey Confirms Vacuity of Obama’s “Engagement” and Joins Up with State Supporters of Terrorism
The domestic Islamist transformation of Turkey-a country with  vast secular population, excellent universities, emerging civil society and a previously free press now being intimidated-is tragic enough.  But the transformation of Turkish foreign policy increasingly presents a clear danger to American interests. The “zero problems” foreign policy of AK Foreign Minister Davutoglu advertises friendliness with proximate neighbors.  In practice, this means allying with rogue states Iran and Syria (whom even President Obama recently saw fit to designate a state sponsor of terrorism).  Worse, Turkey now embraces terrorist murder squads like Hamas and Hezbollah and fetes their leaders as honored guests.  Turkey hosted Sudanese President Bashir, who is under indictment for crimes against humanity by the International Court of Criminal Justice.  Turkey’s new alliances have left in tatters-but not yet completely dismembered-its traditional military alliance with Israel.   Turkish-Israel ties were important because they brought together two countries that were military powers and the only democracies in the region.  I have sat through disconcerting meetings in which Erdogan likened Hamas terrorists to “boys throwing rocks at helicopter gunships.” 
A country with a worldview that demonizes resistance against terrorism is a problematic member of NATO, which was founded to protect democratic values proclaimed by Roosevelt and Churchill in the Atlantic Charter.  It also exposes the danger in Turkey’s present role as a non-permanent member (backed by the U.S. in elections) of the U.N. Security Council.  I was not surprised upon return to the U.S. to find that Turkey and Brazil cooked up a scheme to avert sanctions against Iran.  The Turkish-Brazilian announcement of “ending” the Iran crisis with possible enrichment in Turkey of some Iranian uranium galvanized our State Department to announce that it had secured Russian and Chinese agreement on a weak sanctions resolution, but this was a lie intended to mask exposure of the complete failure of Obama’s “engagement.”  Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov knocked the wind out of our State Department’s sails by stressing that the resolution is far from complete and adding:  “Our position on Iran is to give them another chance.” 
In my conversations with U.S. officials, I have found dismaying unawareness of the consequences of the ugly reality that Turkey is now a functional ally of Iran and not of the United States. Our officials are hardly aware that-while Erdogan and Obama have fulsomely flattered each other-Erdogan uses his controlled media to incite populist hatred of the U.S.  The Turkey-Brazil machinations confirmed the vacuity of Obama’s Iran policy. Perhaps our Government will begin to understand what Turkey has become.  A Turkish deputy defense minister came to my farewell brunch on the Bosporus.  Upon my return to the U.S., I was the dinner guest of Turkey’s Ambassador in Washington, a brilliant diplomat and friend of democracy.  Both tried to convince me that Turkey aspires to lead the Islamic world in a moderate direction and to deny nuclear arms to neighboring Iran.  To this point, they have not convinced me, but at least dialogue continues.
Challenges from Russia:  More Complex but Less Imminent
The challenges to U.S. foreign policy I found in Moscow are more complex but less imminent.  This may sound strange after all the years of the Cold War in which the USSR was Global Enemy Number 1.  Smart Russians do not want to reignite even a Cold War with the U.S.  Moscow was girding for its High Holiday period-from May Day to the 65th anniversary of V-E Day.  On Moscow’s outskirts, I saw posters depicting the Hammer and Sickle as holiday symbols.  These were banned from central Moscow, along with posters depicting Stalin.  The Russian government wanted to make clear that heroism-and massive sacrifice-of the Russian people defeated Nazism and that Stalin, whatever his accomplishments, committed unpardonable crimes.  I witnessed restrained but effective dispersal of pro-Stalin demonstrators.
Well-connected Russians with whom I spoke regretted the dissolution of the Soviet Union and were opposed to assertions of U.S. military power in east Europe.  But of more immediate concern were the problems of (1) Islamic terrorism (Russia’s Muslim population may be as high as 20%), as evidenced in recent subway bombings and (2) Chinese expansionism, particularly as threatening Russia’s vast Far East-three times the size of Europe-which has a shrinking population of 7.5 million while hundreds of millions of Chinese live just across the border.  China’s economic engine is securing access to resources everywhere it can.  Our hyped sanctions “deal” allows the Chinese exemption from energy sanctions on Iran (which, if implemented, would constitute real pressure on Tehran).  Thus, Obama has achieved a double whammy in foisting “sanctions” that are guaranteed to fail while abetting China in its competition with out country and the rest of the world to near-monopolize global access to resources.
Obama policies have encouraged Russians to believe we lack coherency.  Obama caved in to Russian demands and reneged on a commitment to provide missile defense to the Czech Republic and Poland without getting anything in return, as acknowledged to me in a dinner meeting  with David   Sanger, chief diplomatic reporter for the N.Y. Times, a consistent flack for the President. The Russians have played a clever cat-and-mouse game in fending off tough U.N. sanctions against Iran, but they have to this point practiced restraint in neither finishing the Busheir nuclear plant nor supplying Iran with the S-300 ground-to-air missiles. (though an egregious lacuna in the proposed START treaty allows them to do so, if they choose.)  A Russian announcement of new arms supply to Syria gives reason for vigilance, but I would be surprised if the Russians try to undermine Israel’s security.  Picking up some loose Arab money while annoying Washington is a familiar Moscow tactic.  Obama’s obsession with nuclear disarmament (we have now idiotically proclaimed that we will not respond with nuclear weapons to a massive biological or chemical attack by a hostile country) has aided the Russians in allowing them to destroy obsolete weapons while we destroy deployable stock. 
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which Obama and Russia’s president signed in Prague in April so grotesquely favors Russian and undermines U.S. interests that our Senate may refuse ratification.  Peter Brookes, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense, provided worrisome details in a May 14 N.Y. Post article, pointing out that “the Russians got a great deal” on the new treaty “at our expense.”  Obama seems to believe that unilateral U.S. shedding of strategic weapons will incentivize Iran and North Korea to obey U.N. arms resolutions.  Watch the Senate ratification hearings. And who knows what the Russians made of Joe Biden’s foolish remarks about diminished Russian power.  In Kiev, I learned that the Russians have largely succeeded in forcing Ukraine-with its 60 million people and strategic location-back into relative servitude.
Does Our Government Understand the Implications of a Turkish-Russian Strategic Partnership?
Nature abhors a vacuum.  Both Russia and Turkey perceive the naive vacuity of our foreign policy.   They, along with the rest of the word, heard Obama recently say that we are a super-power, “whether we like it or not.”   Thus, I was not surprised to read upon returning to the U.S.  that   Russian President Medvedev had made a state visit to Turkey’s Islamist President Gul.  Medvedev proclaimed establishment of “a full -scale strategic partnership” which includes Russia’s building a nuclear power plant in Turkey as well as energy pipelines. This is hardly a new Warsaw Pact, nor an existential axis of evil. But neither can it be dismissed casually by incantations of “engagement” or defaulting, as the Europeans do, to soft power.
A Russian-Turkish alliance stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea presents a new set of problems for American diplomacy.  A NATO member in “strategic partnership” with Russia is contrary to more than a half century of NATO doctrine.  The problem is magnified when the NATO ally becomes an ally of Iran and holds joint military exercises with Syria.  My soundings in Moscow suggest that the Russian government comprehends these changing dynamics and the advantages this gives to the Kremlin.  I see no evidence that the same can be said of our government.