Trump's whims and a moral choice for Turkey

BRUNO SURDEL
Published

For any observer of international politics one thing is pretty clear: we live in a "post-global" world. The "unipolarity" we have become used to since the fall of the Berlin Wall is gone. That holds true even if the "Pax Americana" with its arbitrary military or "peaceful" interventions is still sending shocks across the globe. Its latest incarnation – U.S. President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal – is just an anachronistic attempt to prevent a new polycentric "order" from being born and established.

This is going to be a less American, less Western-dominated reality, with diverse civilizations having more say in shaping international institutions dominated since the Bretton Woods and San Francisco conferences by the powerful few. "The World is bigger than five" – as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rightly stated some years ago.

Slowly but surely we are witnessing the necessary global shift where one of the main and key actors is going to be Turkey. A "new Turkey" is getting ready for its "new era," starting with the snap presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

It is Turkey's geostrategic position – for sure – that is going to help with its critical regional and world role. But a foundation has been built by Turkey's moral strength. The human cost of the Syrian war has been terrible and impossible to assess, with some big powers cynically playing their "grand games" at the expense of the tragedy of millions of internally displaced people, refugees, as well as hundreds of thousands of victims. This has been a test for humanity in which Turkey and its government has passed providing refuge, shelter and necessary assistance to more than 3 million Syrians with a very limited contribution on the part of the European Union. 

In several European countries the response and modest assistance have been motivated more by a paranoid fear of "the other," namely Muslims, knocking at the door of the "fortress Europe" rather than by humaneness.

That mentality has been even more evidenced by the way the EU leaders have been "processing" Turkey's EU accession bid. That "never-ending story" has demonstrated once again that the European Union doesn't take its own "European values" seriously, or at least – there are equal and "more equal" candidate countries – to use the Orwellian phrase.The main "obstacle" seems to be once again the religion: Islam, too foreign for some European – not necessarily religious – "elites." That "logic" is an actual – even if not always verbalized – rejection of millions of their fellow Muslim citizens: people deeply rooted in European soil and constituting a genuine (and truly constructive) part of the European mosaic of cultures.

Since July 15, 2016, yet another excuse for that bigotry has become, for certain European leaders, an alleged "rule of law" and democratic deficits in Turkey. The Turkish people's heroic victory against the masterminds and perpetrators of the coup wasn't received well by those same "elites." But it was the rule of law and democratic instincts of the Turkish citizens that saved both democracy and the nation against the putschists.To add insult to injury, what we are observing now is like deja vu from the scandals that had taken place in some European countries during the campaign before the constitutional referendum in April 2017. Again, several governments decided to bar Turkish politicians from speaking to their potential voters among the diaspora on absurd and ridiculous pretexts while tolerating activities of groups with links to terror organizations that Turkey has been fighting for many decades.Turkey has never made any difference between this or that terrorist organization – quite the opposite to what Europe and the United States have been doing. And this is Turkey's moral preeminence. Giving terrorists "good" names doesn't make them "good guys." The same is valid for fighting one terrorist organization with the help of another one. This is a recipe for further bloodshed and destruction in the region tired of war, death and human suffering. If the U.S. and other powers want to finally see an end to the Syrian tragedy, they need to recognize that reality. After all, no countries outside of the region can resolve its problems, but they still can make it worse.

Unfortunately, U.S. President Donald Trump didn't learn a lesson from the past American mistakes in the Middle East and just added to the regional headaches with his decision to pull out of the nuclear accord with Iran. President Erdoğan was right when he said that it may affect not just the region but the entire world. This is also a clear message to North Korea and its powerful ally – China, just weeks ahead of a Trump-Kim Jong-un "nuclear" summit.

The only recipe for the Middle East and beyond (including the Korean Peninsula) is working for stability and peace. This is exactly what Turkey has been doing as a country affected much by the region's fragile construction and tremors – the infamous legacy of Western imperialism of the early 20th century.

Turkey needs to continue building on its moral strength gained in 2002, confirmed with the blood of its martyrs of July 15, 2016. The choice to be made by millions of Turkish voters next month can solidify the achievements of the last 15 years and create a new impetus for further development and the global rise of Turkey to a position it deserves in a community of free and proud nations – in a new, multipolar and diverse world. The elections to take place in late June have the power to set the direction of the country for many generations to come. Hopefully, the voters will seize that opportunity and make the right choice.

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