The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview

TURKEY AND THE MIDDLE EAST

by ANDREW. J. A. MANGO

THE INCLUSION of an article on Turkey in a symposium devoted to the Middle East needs to be justified. If a European country is one that tries to live up to European standards, just as a man who acknowledges and seeks to live by Christian standards is commonly presumed to be a Christian, then Turkey is a European country. The proclamation of the Turkish Republic, prepared by a long process of assimilation of European influences and symbolic of the success of that process, has torn Turkey from the Middle East and has propelled her finally into the North Atlantic region. Strategic convenience may produce fanciful geography, but the fancy is based on fact. The fact is that Turkey has gone much farther along the road to the West than her Middle Eastern neighbours, and the inequality of their attainments separates them. They are also separated by an undesirable first product of Westernization, the adoption of the ideology of nationalism.


WESTERNIZATION OF TURKEY

The Westernization of Turkey started long before Atatürk. A century ago a reformed and constitutional Turkey was admitted to the Concert of Europe: the Turkish delegates at Strasbourg follow a long line of Europeans. By the First World War the entire Ottoman ruling class was Westernized: it had been educated abroad or in foreign schools in Turkey, or again on translations of foreign textbooks. The success of the revolution of Atatürk was therefore no accident. What it did was to proclaim the private practices of the rulers as the faith of the state. The Middle East is behind the back of republican Turkey. It is also, to use the unlovely language of Soviet

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