War of attrition can produce no winners
Under the present-day conditions in Turkey, it might appear “politically correct” to assume xenophobia, Islamophobia, Turkophobia and other such forms of racism are confined to the Western world or are peculiar to “rich” and “Christian” societies. Such assumptions are not just superficial exaggeration, but also undermine the grave dangers this society can no longer ignore.
Yet, before focusing on Turkey’s case, shall we have a glance at the West?
What was the fundamental reason for the two world wars? Was it just because of greedy governments eager to capitalize on economic resources that millions of people perished and countries were devastated? Though economy and the craving to capitalize on resources were fundamentally important underlying reasons, the rise of acute nationalist, fascist and unfortunately, Nazi aspirations in societies where awfully bad wealth distribution, or almost non-distribution, produced millions of people willing to die for their leader, nation or the great ideals.
No one can or should perhaps try to draw parallels between particularly what was the situation in Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Thanks to the European Union, the most important and successful ever peace project, since the end of the Second World War, there has not been any confrontation between the traditional antagonists of the old continent. The Yugoslavia crisis that some of the European nations contributed in many ways to evolve into a horrible bloody war and ended with six EU membership-aspiring states and a mini-state or city state, Kosovo. Slovenia and Croatia completed EU accession; others are on the way. That is perhaps the promising side of the coin that reaffirms the importance of the EU for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in Europe.
On the rather ugly or worrisome side of the coin, we have the rising extreme nationalist, fascist and xenophobic feelings – and unfortunately, in some societies, neo-Nazi aspirations – as if 70 years was a sufficiently long time to forget the perennial ills of the old continent. This time perhaps no one would need to stage a suicidal attempt on the life of a prince as societies alarmed and provoked with the rise of the refugee crisis produced by the attempted “democratization” of the Arab neighborhood by the energy security obsession of the West have produced an unprecedented explosive global situation.
Turkey has rampant democratization woes. Compared to yesterday, which was not that good either, freedom of expression, press freedom as well as exercise of most individual rights and liberties are very problematic, to say the least. Not only the Kurds, Alevis or religious minorities, there is an acute democratization problem in this country. The situation in Syria was not produced by Turkey, but today the very same poisonous xenophobic social climate is spreading in this country because of the more than 4 million refugees that became a very serious heavy burden on the Turkish economy, which is already experiencing difficultuies. Social democratic mayors cutting social support programs for the refugees is a very worrisome situation for the future of Turkey, a country which itself as a shrunken empire has been rather accustomed to the concept of being a refugee. If Turks, particularly the “progressive” section, can stop having empathy for the refugees and act in total ignorance of the pain of leaving behind a life and being compelled to build a new one in a foreign land with limited resources, the problem at hand is a very serious one.
If under such conditions, and an economy facing difficulties, this country is confronted with its allies to choose between “obey or get devastated” options, the problem at
hand is far bigger than not receiving few squadrons of stealth fighter jets or purchasing a Russian-made advance air defense system.
At a time when ultra conservative sentiments in Europe and across the Atlantic are fed with ignorant and obsessively vicious anti-Turkish sentiments, nourishing a similar sociology in Turkey might be what political correctness requires. However, there cannot be any winners in such a war of attrition.