Turkey at the Crossroads

By Mas, Raymond J. | The World and I, September 1998 | Go to article overview

Turkey at the Crossroads


Mas, Raymond J., The World and I


Turkey--seen by the United States as a geostrategic linchpin in the execution of U.S. policy at the crossroads of Europe and the Near East, Central Asia and the West, Christianity and Islam--today has become a test case to determine whether modem, secular democracy can coexist with Islam.

This young nation-state, marking 75 years as a modern republic this year, is currently seeking to reconcile the powerful conflicting forces of secularism and Islam, democracy and the military, and its European identity and its deep roots in the steppes of Central Asia.

The military, appointed by the country's founding father, Mustafa Kemal--known fondly as Ataturk (literally "father of the Turks")--to protect the new republican order and the secular civic ethic called Ataturkism, has always played a predominant role in the Turkish state, and so it does today.

But it was not until 1960 that the army first left the barracks to intervene overtly in Turkish political life. Since then, it has twice more staged "caretaker" coups, aimed at restoring Turkey's secular democratic tradition during periods of social chaos and political gridlock between fiercely contesting political parties.

Today, however, the military is more wary of using its power so openly, aware of the inherent contradictions in the preservation of democracy through military force, and of criticism from abroad. Nevertheless, there is no question of its power. The National Security Council, a military-dominated body that includes the five top armed forces commanders, the president, the prime minister, and key cabinet members, has become the most powerful policy-making body in the country.

In June 1997, the council's blunt warnings that it would no longer tolerate what it saw as creeping Islamization forced Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, to step down after 11 months, in what many here described as a "soft coup." The military exercised considerable behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, while keeping the troops in the barracks.

Turkey's top court banned the Welfare Party in January, saying it had violated the country's secular tenets.

The stormy year of Erbakan's government highlighted the deep divide that exists between secular modernist elites and Islamist elites in Turkey today, which is fueled by two radically different worldviews and lifestyles. Whether these two factions are able to arrive at some sort of modus vivendi or, beyond that, a new civic ethic that fuses both will determine Turkey's chances for achieving a stable, prosperous society.

And, while fully 80 percent of Turkish voters express their support for secularist parties, there is also widespread disenchantment with the secularist establishment. The latter has not only proved incapable of addressing some of Turkey's most serious economic problems, such as an annual inflation rate topping 100 percent, but has earned public scorn for a series of major corruption scandals.

DISTANCING ITSELF FROM EUROPE

On December 9, 1997, a watershed event occurred for Turkey that may reverberate for a long time to come. In its meeting in Luxembourg, the European Union (EU) failed to include Ankara, which had applied for membership back in 1963, in its list of candidates for future expansion.

Even more galling to Ankara was the inclusion of archrival Cyprus among the 10 east European states that were given the green light, Turkey bitterly complained that the EU had taken sides in the unresolved Cyprus question that has divided the island into two hostile camps of Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1974.

Although the decision had been widely anticipated, it nevertheless enraged Ankara, already smarting from remarks attributed to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats that Turkey lacked the requisite "cultural values" for membership in Europe. Most Turks had no doubt in their minds what that meant: "Muslims need not apply. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Turkey at the Crossroads
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.