Is history repeating itself?

"Should development start from villages or cities?"; "Is the pen mightier than the sword?"... Do these headlines ring a bell for you? They are quite familiar debate topics. I wonder if they still continue, if they are still part of the curriculum. These kinds of debates used to happen in middle schools, high schools, wherever deemed appropriate. One of them is the topic of "Does history repeat itself, or does it change?" Of course, defending the first claim has always been difficult. When this topic came up, the alert students in the class would take the easy way out, quickly taking the lead and forming the group advocating change. The other claim would be left to those who took things slowly. In our time; in a world where we go to the moon, to space, defending the idea that "history repeats itself" would be seen as ridiculous. The repeat groups usually lost. At the end of the debate, the winning change group would be enthusiastically applauded. This, in fact, was a celebration of Turks' efforts for modernization.

However, as time passes, the events we experience suggest that the first thesis may also be correct. Moreover, in a profound way... Of course, we should be careful here too. There is a serious danger in seeing history as a record stuck on a record player needle, leading to intellectual laziness. But, there are significant reasons not to underestimate the issue of repetition. My friend and colleague Taşansu Türker prefers to use Mark Twain's concept. Twain used to say that even if history doesn't repeat itself, it rhymes. Yes, perhaps this is the most accurate.

The most important outcome of the Moscow attack was Putin's utterance of the word "war." It's important to pay attention to the subtlety here. Putin is not uttering this for the Russia-Ukraine war, which has been seen as a special operation by Russia until now. This is not a simple change of gear. We need to understand from the statements of Putin and other Russian statesmen that the Russia-Ukraine war is no longer just the Russia-Ukraine war. It's now, if we express it on a continental level, a Europe-Eurasia war supported from behind by the Anglo-Saxons. If we name the subjects at the state level, it's a war between a Russia-Weimar Trio (Germany-France-Poland). It has the potential to encompass Belarus, Moldova, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and all the Baltic states. It's important not to forget that this potential could easily spread to the Balkan Peninsula, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece.

The Baltic, which could easily encompass the Balkans, and the Black Sea, which could easily encompass the Caucasus, form two critical basins in the potential Russia-Europe war. Based on recent events, we can see how much these two seas are heating up. Both are closely related to Türkiye. Now let's take a look at the developments. Russia has its eye on Odesa to gain absolute dominance on the North Black Sea coast. Transnistria, its extension in Moldova, is mobilized. France insists that this is a red line for itself and says that if Odesa is involved, it will directly intervene with the support of the Weimar Trio.

One cannot help but think of the Crimean War that took place between 1853 and 1856. Didn't the Crimean War start with Russia's attack on Wallachia and Moldavia, which were then part of the Ottoman territory; today's Romania and Moldova? Didn't it eventually involve the Caucasus? Wasn't Russia alone in this war too? Didn't the Crimean War essentially ignite the tension between Russia and France through the Orthodox-Catholic animosity? When we consider France's presence in Moldova, Romania, and Armenia, is there not a reason not to ask whether a new Crimean War is coming up easily? Aren't we experiencing a similar situation to the France-Poland alliance on the eve of the Crimean War? Wasn't the United Kingdom allied with France to push Russia away from Europe? Wasn't it central Europe, especially Austria, that joined the alliance over time? Is there a reason not to replace Germany with it today?

I see that the balance of power today is very different from that time. I do not deny that many differences can be pointed out between the days of the Crimean War and today's situations through other comparisons. But we should not hesitate to claim that similarities will be at least as dominant as differences, if not more so. As Mark Twain said, even if history doesn't repeat itself, it rhymes.

To come to the point, this question is the question of questions for us: Where will Türkiye, the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, be in a possible new Crimea? We were on the side that won the Crimean War on paper. But this was a Pyrrhic victory for us. We were supposedly accepted by Europe through the Paris Conference. Shortly thereafter came the impositions of Europe that we couldn't say no to. The Reform Edict of 1856, which facilitated dissolution, was announced. We were burdened with a heavy debt load. We lost our economic independence, if not entirely. For those who wonder what it is to go into the well with the rope of the West, the Crimean War is a milestone.

Please, let's not fall into negligence while the warm winds of Türkiye-West relations gently caress our faces. Let's remember the Crimean War... History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes... Let's not forget...

#Crimean War
#Ottoman Empire
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