Blog 29

2009-March-10

President Obama's Visit to Turkey

Turkey has been at the center of the world since the beginning of civilization. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that President Obama should include Turkey on his first major trip overseas.

There are over two hundred countries in the world, so why within 3 months of his inauguration is the President of the most powerful country on the world including a visit to Turkey on his trip? This will be President Obama’s first overseas trip (not counting a day trip to Canada), a trip that will also include stops in Great Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic (CZ for no other reason than it currently holds the presidency of the European Union).

Well, a trawl around the Internet reveals the following possibilities:

  1. Turkeys strategic position in relation to Iran and its possible inclusion in any talks aimed at solving the nuclear proliferation issue.
  2. Turkeys assistance in helping with the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
  3. Turkeys assistance in dealing with the situation in Afghanistan.
  4. To highlight Turkeys involvement in the NATO alliance.
  5. A step towards improving relations with the Muslim world.

Barack Obama said in an address in the summer of 2007 that he would deliver an address in a "major Islamic forum" during the first hundred days of his administration. He said he would make it clear that "we are not at war with Islam" and that "we'll stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future." The Whitehouse is currently denying that this visit to Turkey will include the promised address.

Fine words, but the aggression that the USA has shown towards ‘oil rich’ nations over a period of many decades, that just happen to be Muslim, is a matter of historical record. It’s like the father of ‘school bully’ saying, my son didn’t do it. The fact of the matter is he did do it, and the only way out of the mess is undo it. And that is definitely not going to be easy.

Item 5 above, 'a step towards improving relations with the Muslim world' is a strange goal to be pursuing in Turkey, considering that the USA's relations with Turkey are not that bad. The real issue is the USA's relations with that part of the Muslim world that has oil reserves. The mending of those bridges should start in those countries and not in Turkey. It's not a religious issue it's only to do with the invasion of predominantly Muslim countries in the name of securing access to energy resources.

In 2003 Turkey did not allow the USA to use Turkey as a stepping stone for the invasion of Iraq. This slight dent in US-Turkish relations has been largely smoothed over by Turkeys agreement in the aftermath of the war to allow US access through Turkey for troop and equipment movements. Turkey is also prepared to consider allowing the USA to use Turkey as a conduit for the eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

During my research for this piece I became aware of the fact that many political commentators, when writing about Turkey for any reason, feel it’s necessary to mention that Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country. Whenever they refer to the United Kingdom they don’t mention that it is predominantly Anglican Christian nor feel it is necessary to mention that that Japan is predominantly Shinto or that The Vatican is exclusively Catholic Christian. This sort of writing only highlights the religious differences between countries, like it’s relevant to the subject under discussion.

 

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