Recently David Ignatius of The Washington Post went all Walter Duranty over the Turkish Islamist tyrant Tayyip Erdogan (Barack Obama’s BFF) during a fawning interview that would make Barbara Walters proud. According to this column, Turkey’s economy is due to collapse soon thanks to their huge deficits (sound familiar?) and she is set to follow in the footsteps of Argentina and Mexico while Turkey’s influence in the Middle East has been way overstated This makes sense since the Arabs never had and never will have any love for the Turks (Ottomans) and do not want Turkish hegemony to return. Erdogan supports the Syrian rebels while Iran supports the Assad regime. I hope that President Romney reads the riot act to Erdogan and tells him that his mischief making in the Middle East will not be tolerated and that Turkey’s membership in NATO will be in jeopardy if it continues.
by Elliot Abrams
Turkey is a complex country, but there are two key developments there that demand attention.
One is the increasing repression. Today there are more than 100 journalists in prison, more than in China. The European Federation of Journalists has launched a campaign called “Set Turkish Journalists Free.” Human Rights Watch has reported that “a Turkish court’s verdict on January 17, 2012, that there was no state involvement or organized plot behind the 2007 shooting of the Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink is a travesty of justice.” The Committee to Protect Journalists has criticized Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan for his crackdown on independent journalism: “Erdoğan sought to link journalists who cover Kurdish separatist issues with the separatists themselves.
The second key development is the growing trouble the Turkish economy is in. The Economist commented in April that “the danger now is that a few more years of big current-account deficits, and the debt-creating capital flows that finance them, will leave Turkey less resilient when trouble strikes. Few countries that run big external deficits have avoided subsequent stresses. You don’t need to stand atop the Galata tower to see problems ahead.” Others have used stronger language: “Turkey’s high-flying economy, which expanded at a 10 percent annual rate of gross domestic product growth during the first half of 2011, will crash-land in 2012,” said the financier and commentator David Goldman. He explains: “The impetus behind the country’s recent economic growth has been a stunning rate of credit expansion, which reached 30 percent for households and 40 percent for business in 2011.” Where does the money go? Turkey “is running a current account deficit equal to 11 percent of GDP to promote a consumer buying spree while cutting imports of capital goods that would contribute to future productivity.” Goldman notes that “in some respects, Erdoğan’s bubble recalls the experiences of Argentina in 2000 and Mexico in 1994 where surging external debt produced short-lived bubbles of prosperity, followed by currency devaluations and deep slumps.”
In The National Interest, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz wrote his own analysis of the dangerous situation there: Erdoğan’s “leadership and judgment are being seriously questioned, most recently in regards to whether his ambition is getting in the way of managing critical issues such as Turkey’s unending Kurdish dilemma. Indeed, one prominent AKP supporter last week wrote that ‘The once reformist party of Turkey seems to have developed statist, nationalist, and even Islamist tendencies, which are the likely grounds for a new authoritarian politics. . . . ’ Erdogan’s highly touted Middle East involvement has lost some luster. . . . The much-touted vast Turkish influence in the Middle East seems to have faded. . . . Increasingly, Erdogan’s focus seems to be on creating a presidential system in the new constitution that will allow him to make a Putin-esque move to a more powerful presidency.”
Now, all of this is particularly interesting when juxtaposed against the column yesterday by the mainstream-media foreign-policy analyst David Ignatius. In the Washington Post, Ignatius wrote of Erdoğan’s “clout,” his economic achievements, and “Turkey’s ascendancy in the region.” Ignatius refers to Turkey as “this prosperous Muslim democracy” without a word about darkening clouds on the economy. And as to democracy, there is one brief reference to “Erdogan’s squeeze on Turkish journalists, judges and political foes” — with no explanation as to what that might be. In fact the language itself is suggestive: “squeeze” is a slightly humorous word, used lightly. That an American journalist might usefully protest the imprisonment of 100 journalists amid an obvious crackdown on the press eludes Ignatius. No, this is a lovefest; Ignatius is sweet on Erdoğan, and also on his top aides, writing that “Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s ambitious foreign minister, argues that his country is a role model for Arabs because it shows that democracy brings dignity, not chaos or extremism.” Apparently Turkish democracy also brings jail if you offend the ruling party, but that’s not important enough to be mentioned.
That is predictable. But when Ignatius writes of “Turkey’s ascendancy in the region” while Abramowitz says the “much-touted vast Turkish influence in the Middle East seems to have faded”; when Ignatius writes about Turkey’s prosperity and The Economist sees “trouble ahead”; when Ignatius writes admiringly of Erdogan and Turkish democracy but human-rights groups launch campaigns to “Set Turkish Journalists Free,” one may wonder if Ignatius is practicing journalism at all.
Read the rest – Washington’s celebrity journalism hits Istanbul