FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Turkey and War

Wholeheartedly or not, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP by its Turkish acronym) of Turkey is playing a very dangerous game. Squeezed between two pro-war minorities, the militarist elite ? led by the Army and its faithful underdogs in corporate media and political circles ? and the big bourgeoisie ? the “White Turks” of Istanbul business circles ? the neo-Islamist leadership of AKP (chiefly its “natural” leader Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Abdullah Gul) is desperately trying to convince the rank-and-file that AKP has no more room to maneuver between supporting U.S. militarism and buttering up antiwar sentiments of Turkey’s citizens.

AKP’s MPs are basically told that they have to stop being self-respecting Muslims who believe in justice and democracy, that they have to ignore voices of protest coming from their grassroots constituencies which carried AKP to power, and that they have to be “realistic” about allowing the bombardment, starvation and massacre of another Muslim population. The successful passage of the February 6th resolution from the parliament, allowing the U.S. to modernize its military bases in Turkey and to use Mersin and Iskenderun harbors for the transportation of equipment, personnel and arms, was a definitive proof that the leadership has been successful in forcing the bitter pill of compromise down the throats of its MPs. As the second session on February 18th (during which the other resolution about allowing U.S. troops in the country will be voted) approaches, more and more antiwar groups are being mobilized throughout Turkey; as Koray Caliskan and Yuksel Taskin remind us in their beautifully written exposition of AKP’s dilemmas, recent polls show that an overwhelming 94% of Turkey’s citizens oppose a military campaign against Iraq.[1]

Whatever pressure a warmongering minority (which also controls and/or owns important economic and political resources in the country) puts on the government, whatever orders hidden behind the rhetoric of “friendly diplomacy” are given by the U.S. army-state, Turkey’s antiwar activists argue that the “realist” ground does not hold. AKP leadership’s fatalistic stance blinds the party to the fact that this strange creature called “national interests” is actually the brainchild of the Army, groomed by the caring arms of the Turkish bourgeoisie. The assumption that “there is no alternative” to the designs of the Bush administration for the Middle East is also part of the ideology behind “national interests” so stringently tried to be defended from a pro-war position.

The interests being “realistically” defended by the ruling powers, as long as the dispossessed multitudes of the country constitute the bulk of the “nation”, cannot be “national” interests. Being an accomplice (if not a direct agent) in the destruction of Iraqi lives, despite the promises of the so-called “realists” shedding crocodile tears as they secretly vote for war, cannot ensure our citizens’ security, welfare and dignity.

On the contrary, aiding the U.S. army-state in its crusade will ensure insecurity by disrupting the social and political dynamics of the region of which Turkey is a part and by giving more leverage to the “security establishment” in its own domestic policing campaigns which undermine the civil rights of Turkey’s citizens. The war will ensure that Turkey’s workers will be hit hardest by the looming economic losses, as the military and business elite appropriate war profits and war aids. Finally, being forced by the ruling politicians and officers to become an accomplice to the massacring of other human beings will also definitely ensure a decline of our moral integrity and self-esteem as members of a democratic polity.

Therefore, exerting physical and psychological violence on another people, whether they are members of another nation or members of an ethnic group with which constitutional citizenship is shared, is in direct, absolute contradiction with our real interests.

Peace and demilitarization of politics are in the interest of Turkey’s antiwar majority. So is social justice. And so is a politics of redistribution. As opposed to “national interests”, the pursuit of these inseparable interests can successfully challenge the already-bankrupt legitimacy of AKP and the credibility of the pro-war camp.

The antiwar movement in Turkey can and should fight for the realization of the real interests of the country’s many disenfranchised citizens, who struggle to survive in the country’s regime of “permanent crisis”.[2] The popular struggle for peace will not only open the way for the long-overdue democratization of the polity and for our empowerment as citizens, but also can help the people of Turkey to radically rethink their attitudes towards each other as members of different ethnicities and towards members of other nations.

Our message is clear: We shall not kill for the U.S. war machine, we shall not allow our citizens be killed for it, and we shall not passively watch as the government helps it kill. We have to keep pressuring the government until it submits to the real interests of the overwhelming majority of Turkey’s citizens. The growing antiwar movement all around the rest of the world is our inspiration.

Turkey belongs to a world without war.

Emrah Göker is a graduate student at Columbia University. He is also a member of the antiwar group Peace Initiative/Turkey based in New York City, which is organizing for the upcoming February 15th protest. His opinions are not necessarily those of Peace Initiative/Turkey. He can be reached at peaceinitiativeturkey@hotmail.com

[1] Koray Caliskan and Yuksel Taskin, “Litmus Test: Turkey’s Neo-Islamists Weigh War and Peace“, Middle East Report Online, .

[2] For a critical analysis of Turkey’s permanent crisis regime, see Sungur Savran and Nesecan Balkan, eds. (2002) The Politics of Permanent Crisis: Class, Ideology and State in Turkey, Nova Science Publishers, New York.

 

More articles by:

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail