Metal Storm… The US-Turkey fight

It was 2004. Parliament Chairman Bülent Arınç had established the “Democracy Committee,” which had a deputy from each party, to improve the operation of Parliament.

By the end of 2004, this committee made a visit to the U.S. to make various contacts. I was the coordinator of the committee on behalf of Parliament. A meeting was organized at the White House with a team of presidential advisers and diplomats.

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER’S METAL STORM OUTBURST

Early in the meeting, one of the presidential advisers mentioned the book “Metal Fırtına” (Metal Storm) that was published in 2004. The book that was co-authored by Orkun Uçar and Burak Turna, was based on the U.S.-Turkey war and had resounded quite a lot in Turkey.

It must have had a hot chili effect on top of the Turkish-American relations that soured with the impact of the March 1 resolution that President Bush’s adviser mentioned this book at the meeting:

“We don’t understand what is happening to you. Your Parliament rejects the resolution, you object to the U.S.’s policies in the Middle East, and now a book that says you are at war with the U.S. is published in your country. What is going on?”

Though the adviser tried to appear congenial, he was actually conveying the discussions of surprise and anger aimed at Turkey made in U.S. state corridors to the deputies.

Delegate members were ready for such outbursts. Because relations were still sour following the March 1 resolution. Even though I was poked right and left to not open my mouth, as an adviser, I thought I should answer based on the rule of reciprocity.

“And we fail to understand why the fact that Turkey expressing its own theories and its own interests causes disturbance. As for the book, “Metal Storm,” it is a work much like the thousands of books published in the U.S., the hundreds of films made in Hollywood. I guess you don’t expect us to intervene in a country where people speak and write freely?”

The deputies in the committee duly defended Turkey’s theories. Right at that moment Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz entered the room. He acted as though he just happened to be passing by and welcomed the delegates. Then he explained how they brought democracy to Iraq, how the women voted for the first time. He did not initiate problematic topics. Giving the necessary messages through the senate, congress members and advisers was already planned anyway.

WHY HAVE TURKEY AND THE US FALLEN OUT?

 

I could never forget that incident. The attitude there, was the reactionary emotions of the American state used to seeing a Turkey saying “yes” to everything the U.S. says.

Those running Turkey thinking about the country’s interests, the nation’s security, the future of its children, and accordingly objecting, was seen as behavior that is incompatible with the alliance.

Yet, every country that has a state tradition, a mind and experience, would do what Turkey did.

Even though one of the main breaking points in U.S.-Turkey relations is the March 1 resolution, relations were later normalized and back on track.

However, the U.S. noted that Turkey has its own will and may always object to the U.S.’s interests in favor of its own. It was not pleased by this, but it remained silent to keep the rising Turkey by its side. All the way until the Arab Spring.

Turkey always clashed with the U.S. because it took into account its own country’s interests first in its relations with Israel, in the invasion of Iraq, in the Arab Spring, in energy policies, in its relations with Russia and China, and in its policies with Syria and Iraq.

It clashed not only with the U.S. but also with Germany, France, the U.K., the EU and Russia on many issues. They were never happy with this, they did not accept it. They perceived it like the small child of the neighborhood standing up to the big brothers. They grew angry and ambitious.

 

EVEN THOUGH WE MAY BE SENTIMENTALLY PROUD, WE MUST ACT RATIONALLY

 

It is because of this that the coalition which started the Arab Spring in reverse started a showdown including Turkey as well. The project that kicked off by toppling Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, succeeded in getting all the countries attempting an Arab Spring to kneel. Except for Turkey. We all saw what they did in Turkey. They are still continuing.

This is probably why the U.S. is establishing an army and country in northern Syria that will fulfill all its instructions, that will obey all orders and which it can use as a stick. Then it would no longer need Turkey.

It is possible to take the depths of the visa crisis all the way back to the first step that started with the March 1 resolution.

What gives us sentimental pride here is to have a country and administrators that stand tall. However, even though we sentimentally boast, we have to act rationally – with rationality and knowledgeable politics. Why aren’t those who use Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid as a symbol all the time take an example of what he calls scholarly politics, which balances out the “Great Powers”?

The limits of our power are obvious. Our resources, our economy and defense are all obvious. While the Middle East ground is going through its most slippery and toughest times, while we are unable to figure out who is friend and who foe, we need to take steady steps. God forbid.

 

VALOR WILL BE OUTWEIGHED BY RATIONALITY

 

Let there be slogans on social media, in newspapers and TV channels with the Janissary march.

Let the opposition demonstrate valor saying, the “5,000-strong militia forces” is ready. We will soon see, valor will be outweighed by rationality.

Because the state mind cannot be valiant. The millennium-old state tradition will not adjust how it needs to behave at such times of crisis based on heroic slogans.

We need to talk less and do more. We need to stand on our own feet and catch up with the power of these countries that try to bring us into line. We need to make great moves in all fields from science to technology, from the economy to the defense industry. Our first and foremost duty is to form a national unity.

Before I forget, the adviser who mentioned the book “Metal Storm” at the White House, later married a Turk. They are currently living in Istanbul.

 

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