I just read this morning’s New York Times column by Thomas Friedman, in which he sounds alarms about Turkey lurching toward the Arab world and away from the West.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
After 9/11, I was among those hailing the Turkish model as the antidote to “Bin Ladenism.” Indeed, the last time I visited Turkey in 2005, my discussions with officials were all about Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union. That is why it is quite shocking to come back today and find Turkey’s Islamist government seemingly focused not on joining the European Union but the Arab League — no, scratch that, on joining the Hamas-Hezbollah-Iran resistance front against Israel.
Based on the conversations we had last week with some impressive and knowledgeable Turkish moderates, Friedman’s concerns seem overblown. Even if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been making some unpleasant noises about Israel, and even if he is snuggling with some unsavory characters, the Turkish intelligentsia does not seem inclined to follow him over the cliff Friedman sees on the near horizon.
Revisit this post I wrote last week. In particular, this line:
“We need to want to be part of the EU, even if in the end it drags on for decades and then never happens,” Atlığ said.
Not one person with whom we met expressed concern about Turkey abandoning the West for the East. They scoffed at the possibility of that ever happening, especially with a growing, prospering middle class pushing hard for more westernization.
I’m not going to claim I have the chops of a Tom Friedman. He knows global politics and economics as well as anyone. But he often seems in the thrall of CEOs and a certain brand of center-right intellectual.
Today’s column strikes me as under-sourced; as though he flipped through his Rolodex and had a Turkish coffee with an old chum or two. Maybe he needs to get out of the boardrooms and five-star hotels and out into the street.