Turkey Leaps forward...
Turkey Steps Out
By Roger Cohen
New York Times, October 25, 2010
ANKARA — Davutogluism is a mouthful. It’s not going to make Fox News any time soon. But if I could escort Sarah Palin, Tea Partiers and a few bigoted anti-Muslim Europeans to a single country illustrating how the world has changed, it would be the home of the D-word, Turkey.
Ahmet Davutoglu, who birthed a foreign policy doctrine and has been Turkey’s foreign minister since May 2009, has irked a lot of Americans. He’s seen as the man behind Turkey’s “turning East,” as Iran’s friend, as Israel’s foe, as a fickle NATO ally wary of a proposed new missile shield, and as the wily architect of Turkey’s new darling status with Arab states. The Obama administration has said it is “disappointed” in Turkey’s no vote on Iran sanctions last June; Congress is not pleased, holding up an ambassadorial appointment and huffing over arms sales.
Nostalgia is running high in Washington for the pliant Turkey of Cold-War days. Davutoglu is having none of it. “We don’t want to be a frontier country like in the Cold War,” he told me. “We don’t want problems with any neighbor” — and that, of course, would include Iran.
Zero problems with neighbors lay at the core of Davutoglu’s influential book “Strategic Depth,” published in 2001. Annual trade with Russia has since soared to $40 billion. Syrian-Turkish relations have never been better. Turkey’s commercial sway over northern Iraq is overwhelming. It has signed a free trade agreement with Jordan. And now Turkey says it aims — United Nations sanctions notwithstanding — to triple trade with Iran over the next five years.
All this makes the anemic West edgy: The policy has produced 7 percent growth this year. There’s also something deeper at work: The idea of economic interdependence as a basis for regional peace and stability sounds awfully familiar. Wasn’t that the genius of the European Union idea?
Which prompts another question: Can it only work for Westerners? I don’t think so. And, having shortsightedly kept Turkey out of the European Union, the West is scarcely qualified to complain. As British Prime Minister David Cameron, Turkey’s strongest European supporter, said recently, “It is just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit in the tent.”
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