Guest Post by Amjad Atallah: You Cannot Put Out Fire With Flames

-

flames.jpg
(Photo Credit: Dutchmetal’s photostream)
Amjad Atallah co-directs the New America Foundation/Middle East Task Force .
President Obama quoted this Turkish aphorism toward the end of his 27 minute speech before the Turkish Parliament. It was, in essence, a summation of his rejection of the policies of the previous eight years. The president provided a comprehensive overview of Middle East and Caucus politics that showed us a little bit of how he views the conflicts in the region.
And perhaps of more lasting import, Obama noted that the US is not and will not ever be at war with Islam, finally laying to rest the bastardization of the conflict of civilizations thesis promoted by so many neo-cons.
The President didn’t only rely on metaphors – he offered a concrete analysis of conflict from Cyprus and Israel/Palestine in the west to Nagarno-Karabakh and Pakistan in the east. And he admitted US weaknesses before he gently chided his hosts on their own.
First a little about that last point. Everyone hates hypocrisy – children are particularly good at noticing it in adults. Nations tend to be like that too. The President seemed to grasp that in his speech without letting anyone off the hook.
It has always seemed hypocritical in many nations around the world for the US to criticize a lack of democracy in one country while embracing it in another. Hard to criticize Turkey for not coming to terms with the 1915 killing of Armenians without admitting that the US has not come to terms with the full horrors of slavery and of the annihilation of native American nations.
On conflicts, the President tied, perhaps unconsciously, four ethnic conflicts over territory: Kurdish activity in Turkey and Iraq, the Armenian-Azeri ethnic dispute in Nagarno-Karabakh, Cypriot talks to re-unite the country into a “bi-communal federation” (as the president put it), and the US effort to partition Israeli control over both its own state and the Palestinian territory into two states “Israel and Palestine.”
On this last ethnic/territorial conflict in particular, the President seemed to want to do what few in his administration have so far been willing to – put an exclamation point on the differences between US and international interests and those in Israel who want to maintain the occupation.
He made a point of sounding fair – “The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” he said. “Both Israelis and Palestinians must take the steps that are necessary to build confidence. Both must live up to the commitments they have made.”
But he also used the future tense – noting that the creation of two states is a goal that “I will actively pursue.” For those who have noted the lack of a new implementation policy so far, that may have offered hope that one will be announced soon.
The President also tied in his now standard outreach to Iran emphasizing that Iran had a choice between seeking a weapon or economic integration. As the Financial Times noted today, this may be part of a shift in emphasis to preventing Iran’s weaponizing of its nuclear program rather than attempts to freeze its industrial (including nuclear) development.
On Iraq, he noted that the US was leaving soon and that everyone had to help to make sure that Iraq was secure and united (but he pointedly did not comment on how democratic it would have to be).
On al-Qaeda, he noted Turkey’s help in Afghanistan and emphasized the necessity of preventing the terrorist group a “safe haven” in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
This was not Obama’s “Muslim speech” we are told. But it was a good (and maybe precedent making?) speech to give in the Muslim country that has most entrenched its ties with the West while maintaining an Islamist modernizing government.
It was a pleasant juxtaposition with the embarrassing performance in Doha last week of the Arab League which applauded itself on feting Sudan’s indicted president Omar al-Bashir.
— Amjad Atallah

Comments

30 comments on “Guest Post by Amjad Atallah: You Cannot Put Out Fire With Flames

  1. ... says:

    some history on jpmorgan.
    http://www.whale.to/b/m_ch5.html
    those who control the purse strings, control so much more as well..

    Reply

  2. ... says:

    Goldman Sachs was founded in 1869 by German Jewish immigrant Marcus Goldman.. the list is long questions… probably isn’t scholarly enough for you, lol…

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    rothschild family.

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    There’s a WORLD of difference between your insinuation about those of a particular ancestry in the money system and looking at the money effects of lobbying. Lobbying has no ethnicity and no race associated with it. Even this alleged ILOBBY thing crosses ethnicity and religion and region. There’s no deep secret that you amazingly are in touch with and that I am afraid to admit to. But there is a sad and typical and really rather lazy habit of association that you are making between money and a particular group of people (never mind that LOTS of other groups of people have huge financial resources and engage in lobbying). And again, you don’t demonstrate in any scholarly or researched fashion precisely what the money/influence relation is and how it works. Given that actual scholars work on this issue, either you have an amazing insight and you should get a tenured full-professorship at your local university (Toronto?) or you should realize that your “insight” has origins in something other than fact.

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    questions question “What precisely is the mechanism for the exertion of this alleged power?”
    money… don’t comment on it, and refer to talk about it as being beyond ignorant all you want.. perhaps you’d like to acknowledge that you’ve mentioned the word money 4 times in your 10:22am… i think you are getting the answer to you question in your own words, but are too afraid to acknowledge what it fairly apparent to most including yourself.. perhaps that is something you would like to leave out of the conversation.. fine… i will talk about it, and if you are honest, you will admit you have as well.

    Reply

  6. questions says:

    I’m not going to comment on the money thing. It’s beyond ignorant and you’re welcome to be beyond ignorant.
    I do not praise Mr. MondoWeiss above. I think he enjoys using the language he does, but I do not think his language is accurate. “Disproportionate” has no meaning until a)”proportionate” is defined and b)the mechanism for this allegedly “disproportionate power” is explained. I have seen nothing here that does either of these in any reasonable way. Ought we to move to a percentage/quota proportion system where the MCs must match in percentage the exact characteristics of their people? Which characteristics? Handedness? Hair color? Length of fingernail? Race/class/gender/religion/dog person vs cat person? You sure you want to go there? And if you do go there, are you sure that you want to say that only those who share a precise list of characteristics can ever authentically represent one another? Oh my. You really want to go there? So if you’re say, a white Christian guy, you can only be properly represented by a white Christian guy (who is also right handed, likes dogs, drives a Chevy, listens to WXYZ Radio, is 5’11”, likes buttermilk pancakes for breakfast but only on Thursdays…. Good luck getting out of this mess.
    And, note that I can’t STOP reading Mr. MondoWeiss because I haven’t exactly started — except when it’s linked here and I’m stuck with following the link.
    I don’t do Easter, but if you do, have a happy one.

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    questions, i think disproportionate’ is definitely the correct term… i am happy that mondoweiss has struck a cord with you and many others… i think he’s doing some great work towards liberating those of afraid that of saying anything unfavourable towards israels behaviour and tactics, by shedding more light on it all…
    a collection of characteristics defines the israel lobby, some of them common with other lobbies, and some not.. money is something the jewish people seem to have a special relationship with, and as you note above it’s a helpful tool for politicians seeking political power.. aside from how central those of jewish ancestry seem to be in the financial system, they also appear to have an overly large control of the media.. perhaps this makes sense as most companies that want to make money need the media to promote themselves… i think the israel lobby is unique in having both a lot of money and a close tie with many media outlets which helps to leverage their influence in a way that other lobbies don’t share…
    now feel free to tear this apart as best you can, but that is the general view i have on this.. don’t stop reading mondoweiss! happy easter!

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    And here is where I would say that “disproportionate” is the wrong term. THE LOBBY can’t exert as much power over MCs as one would think. The “power” is limited to funding a primary challenger (which won’t work in many many districts), funding the opposition party in the general (which also won’t work in many many districts), starting letter writing campaigns (which are likely of marginal influence), advertising (which can be challenged), getting sympathetic MCs to put some pressure on with threats of not getting legislation through via logrolling (no one will logroll with you if you don’t support). But you have to remember that every Dem NEEDS all Dems, and every Repub needs all Repubs in Congress. Pelosi doesn’t want to lose any seats in her party, so how much retaliation is there going to be? These people have a hard time sanctioning fellow MCs who have huge sums of money in their refrigerators for heaven’s sake. So sanctioning over an Israel vote isn’t super likely.
    Given how marginal “punishment” really is as an effect in Congress, how powerful can any lobby, even THE LOBBY be as a cause?
    If you’re going to claim disproportionate power, you have to have answers for these kinds of questions. What precisely is the mechanism for the exertion of this alleged power? When MC X says, “Oh, THE LOBBY. Boy are they powerful,” what does that member actually mean? They donate money and MC X likes money? Can MC X find another source of money? Well, that takes work, the cultivation of relationships, constituent service and the like. Or does it mean that “I’m so unpopular in my district that I can’t win without it?” Again, find districts and prove the claim.
    As I’ve posted repeatedly here, there’s a lot going on in Congressional behavior that is not well captured by anecdotes, that needs much more thorough analysis, that isn’t what it seems. Research, using good questions, is crucial. It’s too too too easy to say “ILOBBY ILOBBY ILOBBY” to explain events. “ILOBBY” explains nothing. “Disproportionate influence” explains nothing. But it feels good for Mr. MondoWeiss to use this language, and perhaps it feels good for other posters here to use this language. It seems self-evident. And yet “self-evident” isn’t really good thinking. Read Descartes’s Meditations to see how easy it is to deny “self-evidence” — even his own existence is called into question until he has some actual proof of it.
    And as soon as you say “unfortunately a lot of them just want to save their ass” you are doing two things. First, you are adding something to the ILOBBY so it’s not just the ILOBBY’s amazing powers. And second, you are saying that what saves an MC’s ass is votes in the district, so what the ILOBBY demands helps garner those votes. Well, how does this work? The ILOBBY supports Israel, supporting Israel gains votes. Hmmm, isn’t that how the system is supposed to work? Israel is still relatively popular in the US and so supporting Israel helps garner votes. Nothing nefarious here.
    And so the paranoiacs have decided that what’s really happening, since Israel OBJECTIVELY cannot be worthy of current support, is that the ILOBBY, no ordinary lobby indeed, completely controls the discourse of the nation. The ILOBBY runs every news organization, every university, every politician, every everything. And this claim is made with a straight face. Yet it completely misses several issues. First, if a university backs down on an appointment, it’s quite possible that the backing down came for a variety of reasons, and, say, Dershowitz, merely provided an opportunity. Second, if a newpaper refuses to cover a story the way Mr. MondoWeiss wants it covered, it’s quite possible that the newspaper has a particular audience that wants a particular slant on the news. This is not the stuff of conspiracy, it’s the stuff of marketing 101.
    I fail over and over to see “disproportionate”, “conspiracy”, THELOBBY and the like. I see pressure systems functioning as they do, I see unfortunate world events being read in ways I am unhappy with. (Nothing new here. I can still get worked up over all sorts of issues in Latin America, none of which is the slightest bit related to Israel, and none of which was reported on particularly well in the US press. Must be that Nicaraguan lobby or whatever.)
    The ILOBBY meme is an unfortunate shortcut for the kind of Congressional research, media research, and policy research that really needs to happen. It’s work. “ILOBBY” is free. Which one gets chosen?

    Reply

  9. ... says:

    questions quote “So do you blame THE LOBBY or do you blame personal ambition and the re-election craving?” i see it as a collusion of the 2, both necessary for it to continue… i actually think some changes are taking place in this area, but i might be unrealistic in thinking that… i would like to think a politician could show some respect and consideration for the well being of those who elected them… unfortunately a lot of them just want to save their ass, and this is where not talking about how influential and disproportionate israels influence on the us political system is very dishonest and deceitful… i think it will change with effort on the part of more individuals…

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    Gilchrest is a moderate Repub who was primaried to the right and lost. 2008 was not a kind year for moderate Republicans. He might well have lost in the general anyway, as a Dem beat the Repub.
    His talk meanders. Forgivable. He’d rather blame the pressure of the lobbies than say that he was so worried about re-election that he did the less-than-honorable thing: voting the party rather than voting his conscience. Understandable, but sad. He notes that pressure comes from so many sources that many give up and vote the party line. Correct.
    Please note that pressure is precisely what drives Congress at this point. But the pressure comes from a multitude of directions and is effective ONLY because of the re-election desire. So do you blame THE LOBBY or do you blame personal ambition and the re-election craving? And furthermore, were it radically unpopular in the district to support Israel, do you really think that members could be pressured?
    Congress can be analyzed (and is analyzed) from numerous more and less abstract positions. The most concrete level is that of the personal anecdote. Any good social scientist (or scientist for that matter) takes anecdotes with more than a grain of salt. Gilchrest provides anecdotes.
    Abstract analysis looks at voting patterns, district patterns, waves of votes in elections and the like. The Republican party has lately not been kind to moderates. So did Gilchrest lose for speaking truth to power, or did he lose because moderate Repubs across the country were way to the left of their current voting base? Maybe Reagan/Gingrich/Clinton/Bush/Cheney are to blame? It’s a thought.

    Reply

  11. ... says:

    Former congressman says getting evenhanded legislation past the Israel lobby was like ‘pulling teeth from a rhinocerous without anesthesia’
    http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/04/former-congressman-says-getting-evenhanded-legislation-past-the-israel-lobby-was-like-pulling-teeth-.html

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    …,
    Oh, and “racist ideology only concerned with its self interest irrespective of others” — isn’t that what realism is about in a pretty major way? It’s not in the US interest to support Israel, and so the US should stop the support based merely on self-interest? I think the racism meme is pretty unhelpful. Every nation limits citizenship, and one could argue therefore that every nation is racist if it uses anything like race or parentage to determine admission. Countries set up quotas and income restrictions, health restrictions (try having cancer and getting admitted to Canada), and behavior restrictions. The US is happy to kick out non-citizen parents of citizen minors. Is it race? In some measure, it is.

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    …,
    Given your definition, I don’t think I fit. I am not “okay with” the settlements, Gaza-as-prison-camp, murdering innocent people, and leeching. Of course.
    I don’t think there is “leeching,” but I clearly have a different view of strategic relations than you have. I would wish for different borders and different behaviors. I do not think we’ll get those changes through disengagement.
    But I’ve said all of this before. And still you reduce my nuances to accusations of deviltry in the details and Zionism in the poster.
    So here’s a question from questions,
    What would you advocate, and if you’d advocate total disengagement, what would result? Discuss changes in Israel, in ME strategic relations, and in the US domestic political scene. Would Israel align with China or Russia, and would that be a problem or not? Would the US-born Israelis never allow disengagement? Would Palestine suddenly be a flowering democracy? Or at least a flowering landmass? Be logical and honest. I’m really interested in what people think would happen were their wishes to be granted.

    Reply

  14. ... says:

    questions – i am telling you in general terms how i view your posts here… the devil is in the details.. sure lets talk about zionism and what it means to different people, those both in favour of it and those who think it is a racist ideology only concerned with its own self interest, irrespective of others… i see modern day zionism as a form of fanaticism that is quite okay with continued settlements, outside the area defined as israel, okay with turning gaza into a prison camp, okay with murdering innocent people with state sponsored terrorism as we witnessed last january, and okay with leeching off the american taxpayer to continue to perpetuate this set of dynamics… zionism is a huge problem and people in positions of leadership, both jewish and not need to speak out against its continuation… i see both you and wigwag as part of the problem, not the solution to a resolution in the middle east..

    Reply

  15. questions says:

    …,
    “full support for Zionism” — if Zionism means Greater Israel, then no, I don’t support it. If Zionism means no Palestinian self-determination, then no, I don’t support it. If Zionism means that Israel must be 100% Jewish with no minority rights and loyalty oaths for all citizens, then no, I don’t support it. If Zionism means that Israel does no wrong, then no, I don’t support it.
    Please define your terms before you “accuse” someone of holding to those terms. Thanks.

    Reply

  16. ... says:

    questions… you’re correct.. your position and wigwags are a lot more nuanced then i give you credit for, so i take that comment which included you back.. either way what i find consistent in both your and wigwags commentary at twn is an acceptance of the extreme lopsidedness that defines usa’s foreign policy.. it is all quite natural that these special interest groups are given precedent over the wishes or interest of the general populace… while neither you or wigwag have argued openly from an ethnic pov, the byproduct always remains the same – full support for zionism..

    Reply

  17. David says:

    sue,
    Having grown up in the rural South, I thought immediately about setting backfires, but then realized the flaws in that analogy. For one, the purpose of a backfire is to destroy the fuel for the approaching brushfire. In the context in which Obama was speaking, that becomes destroying the village to save it.
    The other is that backfires are useful only in very controlled situations in which there is no risk of the backfire becoming itself a conflagration.
    Obama’s point, I think, is that you cannot put out a conflagration with a conflagration unless you find the resulting destruction acceptable.

    Reply

  18. Kathleen G says:

    Samuel Bill Kristol has his head up where the sun does not shine. If only we could leave Kristol and the other radical right wing thugs behind.
    Obama’s speech was refreshing a far cry from David Frum’s “axis of evil” and Kristol and Company endless fearmongering.
    If only our nation could LTCB (leave the cons behind).
    With Netanyahu and Lieberman leading the pack in Israel not looking good for a two state solution. If Israel refuse to listen to the Obama administration way over due to call for cutting them off the free money that they keep getting from the American taxpayers pockets.

    Reply

  19. samuelburke says:

    http://original.antiwar.com/huber/2009/04/06/raging-bull-feathers/
    “Sadly, even if we have half a million troops in the Bananastans (like we did in Vietnam), they can’t accomplish anything without a coherent strategy, which they still don’t have despite the recent unveiling of Obama’s new Bananastan plan, the tenets of which sound like his policy team stole them from Scientology. The new strategy’s stated objectives include a “capable, accountable, and effective government in Afghanistan” and a “stable constitutional government in Pakistan,” goals impossible to achieve without extraterrestrial intervention. Inexplicably, while these two aims would constitute the reengineering of an entire region’s social structure, presidential advisers who crafted the strategy maintain that it does not constitute nation-building. Even more inscrutably, prominent foreign policy analyst Pat Lang agrees that the new strategy avoids “multi-decade nation building.” This observation suggests that Lang has been nipping at the Kool-Aid he accused so many of chugging during the Bush administration or that he’s suffering from the long-term effects of having been a military intelligence officer. It’s hard to say which; the symptoms are nearly identical.
    Alas, that would be counter to the real objective of the neoconservative agenda, which is progressive military entanglement. If you’re not yet convinced that’s what the war mongrels are after, take a look at what their most prominent pundits are saying about Obama’s new strategy. Bill Kristol cries, “All hail Obama!” Kristol’s partner Bob Kagan cheers, “Hats off to President Obama for making a gutsy and correct decision on Afghanistan.” Charles Krauthammer calls the Obama strategy one that you can imagine “John McCain having adopted had he been elected.”
    This is the clearest signal I’ve seen to date that America’s collective brain activity has flat-lined. Obama’s election was above all a national rejection of the militaristic adventurism of the previous regime. Yet here we are, not only continuing Bush-era foreign policy but expanding it, and America is watching it unfold dumbly, like a dazed Jake LaMotta, clinging to the top rope and rasping, Come on, hit me. Harder.”

    Reply

  20. samuelburke says:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/026212.html
    April 06, 2009
    Neocons Finally Come Clean About Why We’re at War in Iraq
    Posted by Thomas DiLorenzo at April 6, 2009 06:59 PM
    Bill Kristol said on Fox News tonight that he is very disappointed that Abraham Delano Messiah Obama did not explain the following in the speech he gave in Turkey today: “Americans are fighting to save Muslim lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.” So thaaaaaaat’s why all those Iraqi citizens had to die over the past six years — so that their lives could be saved. And what American soldier wouldn’t want to die for the benefit of Muslim strangers? Now that this has been cleared up I’m predicting a “surge” in military enlistments.

    Reply

  21. questions says:

    Hey, …,
    If you’re going to charge me with anything so specific, please get it right. If I stand for anything on this website, it’s proper scholarship with actual evidence for a position or at least a semblance of an argument. I don’t “do” “conflict of civilization” stuff. I have never argued that it’s us vs. them (or we vs. they for the grammar purist lurking in my soul). In fact, I have argued again and again for the moral equivalence of all people/s. Not sure how “moral equivalence” and “conflict of civilizations” fit into the same human psyche, but maybe you have some deep insight into this equation. Or maybe it’s so screamingly obvious that you haven’t bothered to spell it out. Please let me know.
    Near as I can tell, WigWag doesn’t do the conflict of civilization thing either. W’s position seems to be pretty straightforward power politics is normal, Israel follows power politics just as the US does, and eventually some version of equilibrium will be reached and Israel will forcibly drag some number of settlers out of occupied territory and a very power-based uneasy equilibrium will be maintained. Further, Israel is popular in the US and so garners a fair amount of normal support. Not exactly the stuff of clash of civilizations.
    Read Samuel Huntington if you want to know what I don’t think. He’s got a lot of issues with order and power. I don’t worry as much about that stuff, though I can understand the level of anxiety underlying this kind of thinking. I think Cheney is at the extreme end of the order and power parade.
    I have a more nuanced position than you seem to be willing to admit. So, again, if you want to accuse me of something like Netanyahuism, then at least do the right thing. Quote my text, explain what I mean, relate what I mean to your central thesis. Repeat as needed until you have a complete argument. I don’t think you’ll find any support of Netanyahu in my writings beyond thinking that there are still enough good reasons to continue the support of Israel for geostrategic reasons that we should tread very carefully as we shift emphasis. And please note that this very careful treading would seem to be the official position of the US for now. We are gently testing the waters for rhetorical shifts. No one is running headlong in any direction and I, for one, think that this strategy makes sense.
    You posted elsewhere that you like to “shock,” but “shock” and fact need to come together.

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Anyone notice that the bombings in Iraq are being attributed to “Al Qaeda in Iraq”?
    I’m a little curious why “Al Qaeda in Iraq” would be targeting Shiite marketplaces. Does that make sense to any but the dumbest among us?
    Uhm, gee, you think they might be “Sons of Iraq” instead, disgruntled because the bribery payments are dryin’ up?
    Say goodbye to the “success of the surge”.

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    Armed Israeli settlers attack homes in Hebron
    http://imeu.net/news/article0016154.shtml

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    never miss a chance to say ‘jihad’ tony… let’s start calling you tony ‘jihad’ foresta… keep those (one-sided) murderous thoughts constantly entertained mr ‘jihad’… your post is just as bland as any other attempted brainwash from any typical neo con rag…

    Reply

  25. TonyForesta says:

    I know you are being provacative whomeveryouare, and I cannot speak for anyone else, but I hold no animosity for Islam per se, or muslims in general.
    Your selective cognition and/or tunnelvision reading evidently prevents you from comprehending the message I state clearly time and time again, which is focused entirely and exclusively on jihadist islam. I appreciate there are other elements of islam and that a majority of individual muslims that are not jihadist, and so we all must work and live together in peace, tolerance and something. It is the jihadist element of islam that are malignant and perverted and jihadis’ alone that I believer can never be reconciled or negotiated with, and therefore must by necessity be mercilessly, hunted, captured, or preferrably killed.

    Reply

  26. ... says:

    “finally laying to rest the bastardization of the conflict of civilizations thesis promoted by so many neo-cons.” not if tony foresta, wigwag, questions, or netanyahu have their say in any of this…
    ‘Israel not taking orders from Obama’
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1238562922110&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    “The President also tied in his now standard outreach to Iran emphasizing that Iran had a choice between seeking a weapon or economic integration.” i don’t remember the usa ever giving israel the same choice….. maybe this is an example of the hypocrisy Amjad Atallah discusses early in this article…

    Reply

  27. Gene says:

    From “War in Context”:
    “Obama was well-advised in making Turkey one of his first foreign destinations. As a country that most Americans associate with a bird, its significance is not widely appreciated. But just look at a map. If any country can claim to be located at the strategic center of the world it is Turkey. No other country has as pivotal a position between multiple continents. It is no accident that Istanbul (or as it was, Constantinople) has been the capital of four successive empires. If the Turks now want to reclaim some of their former geopolitical power, the basis of that claim does not have to be imperial nostalgia. Turkey matters because this is where continents and cultures all converge.”
    http://warincontext.org/2009/04/06/turkeys-pivotal-place/

    Reply

  28. Mr.Murder says:

    Turkey is a pattern indicator. This as close as we can get to Iran at this time with the actual POTUS. Major items were addressed, what was not said was also important.
    Iran isn’t being vifilied to the extent it can grab the headlines of the summit or meetings.
    Maybe Israel should get its PR machine in DC back on track and try to get an off record quote or out of context item from some lower level types and build a story around it to make everyone in the east mad again….

    Reply

  29. JohnH says:

    Maybe Amjad could give us a clue as to why Obama was in Ankara at all. I mean, he’s got a financial crisis and an economic crisis, and he goes to TURKEY? The points Amjad highlights have already been said, so they obviously were not the message. A little more informative analysis would have been much appreciated.
    When I used to work on the occasional big deal, sometimes an important guy would show up out of the blue from a supplier’s home office. He had no grasp of the details and didn’t add much to the conversation. But he sat there politely and he CARED. And dinner was good, too. The message was that we were IMPORTANT, and our needs would be taken care of. This seems to be the crux of Obama’s visit to Ankara.
    So what issue is so important that it makes Turkey an urgent priority? Yep, it’s those vital strategic interests that you won’t ever see discussed at TWN: “As we go forward, the United States and Turkey can pursue many opportunities to serve prosperity for our people, particularly when it comes to energy…And to power markets in Turkey and Europe, the United States will continue to support your central role as an East-West corridor for oil and natural gas.”
    In summary, Obama added, “I know there are those who like to debate Turkey’s future. They see your country at the crossroads of continents…And they wonder whether you will be pulled in one direction or another.”
    Yes, Turkey has choices. Its accession to the EU is being frustrated. But now Turkey has OPTIONS. Turkey can align itself more closely with the East, prioritizing natural gas imports for its own industries, not European transshipment. It can also partner with Russian, Persian Gulf and Caspian Basin suppliers to manage the supply of energy to the West at better prices for all (Turkey is the only overland alternative to Russia for pipelines to Europe.) And Russia and the other suppliers can open their markets wide to Turkish manufacturers in return.
    Does Turkey really need EU accession? It’s up for debate.
    So Obama has to help Europe close the deal with Turkey, because European footdragging on EU accession has clouded their prospects.
    But the stakes are really high for Obama, too. If he can bring Turkey into the fold, then he has demonstrated that America still has some clout in the region. Otherwise…

    Reply

  30. sue says:

    No quarrel with your evaluation of the President’s speech but the Turkish aphorism is just completely wrong-ever heard of setting a strategic backfire to contain the apread of wildfire? Come to think of it, this might have geopolitical equivalents…

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *