Turkey is one great theater in the war between modernity and Islamist reaction. In Istanbul one can see radical imams stalking through the Grand Bazaar with fanatical expressions on their faces. Many more women and girls are wearing long coats and scarves in the summer heat, the Turkish version of the burqah. Early Turkish election results now show a forty percent vote for the Islamist AKP, five percent more than last time. It seems that the modernist movement that began with Kemal Ataturk in 1922 may be crumbling before our eyes. Because Turkey is the most democratic country in the Islamic world, that fact may signal where the war on Islamist fascism is going.
The Turkish electoral system is stacked in favor of plurality governments. Tony Blair's British Labour Party, with only forty percent of the vote, was able to control Britain for a decade, and drive the country to sacrifice more and more sovereignty to Brussels. Similarly, with only 35 percent of the vote the AKP was able to steadily stack the Turkish government with Islamists. Now they may get another five years to push their takeover. It all depends on parliamentary horse-trading going on right now.
Modernists are feeling desperate. They have gambled and lost at least three important battles: First, they placed their hopes on the United States and the Atlantic alliance. That strengthened their domestic position until 9/11/01. Then they placed their hopes on the European Union. When the United States knocked out Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Turks voted to block the US Fourth Army Corps from invading Iraq from the North. They were egged on by Jacques Chirac and his Euro-imperialist ally Dominique de Villepin (now facing their day in court over corruption and forgery charges).
Chirac and Villepin ambushed Colin Powell at the United Nations, whipped up an anti-American hate campaign in Europe, and helped to block America's move to attack Saddam from the north. As a result, Saddam's Baath Party was given enough time to organize a resistance, and to tie down American troops in the war we see today. Without French sabotage, the Iraq war might have been over by now. It didn't help that the French gave EU passports to Saddam's fleeing generals, who promptly disappeared somewhere in Europe to carry on sabotage of American efforts.
But shafting America didn't work for modernizers in Turkey. They have ended holding with the short end of the stick. The Islamist AKP was able to use the Iraq War and the War on Terror to increase its power domestically in Turkey. Relations between Turkey and the US have become frayed; Israel-Turkish relations are at risk. The rise of a free Kurdish republic in Iraq has scared the Turks, who have a long history of violent struggle with the Kurds. And now the EU may be walking away from them.
The Turks expected their betrayal of the Americans to be rewarded with admission into the EU. Instead, the European Union has been deeply shaken by the rise of Islamism domestically, and now that the AKP has actually increased its power, Turkey looks less and less likely to become a full EU member. The Balkan countries, which have just joined the EU, still suffer from traumatic memories of the Ottoman Empire, which brutalized them for four centuries. Eastern Europe will resist Turkish accession to the EU. And Western Europe is finally grasping the folly of its multiculturalist fantasy, which whitewashed the long history of Islamic aggression against Europe. Two million Pakistanis have moved to London, making it the most dangerous center of Islamist agitation in Europe. While the EU is moving to become a superpower, it has never in its history pursued an enlightened and responsible policy. So far it is primarily marked by elite-encouraged anti-Americanism. There is no guarantee whatsoever about its future policies.
Thus the EU is shafting the Turks, just as the Turks betrayed the United States. Call it poetic justice. Or call it another French postmodern betrayal of civilization, cutting off its Gallic nose to spite its face -- purely to stick it to George W. Bush and the Americans. Europe is now much more endangered than before, with Islamism on the rise both domestically and in adjacent Turkey.
There is a third lesson in reality in the offing. Turkey has been rescued before by its army, which has more than once taken over the government to restore democracy, in the tradition of Kemal Ataturk. But the idea of the armed forces taking over, even on behalf of democratic governance and modernity, doesn't sit well with the EU. Like the United States, the European Union has a fixed idea of what legitimate government looks like.
The result is another "damned if you do, damned if you don't" choice. Islamic fascists have figured out that they can use the instruments of democracy to take over countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey. That was Hitler's strategy in Germany, and it was the Communist Party strategy in Europe for almost a hundred years. The Islamists are just following in their footsteps.
If the Turkish Army takes over, it will restore democracy as it has in the past. But in that case the EU will find it still harder to accept Turkey. Yet if the army does not take over, the Islamofascists may win the war for Turkey. Europe may therefore end up sabotaging Turkish democracy and aiding the Islamic fascists In taking over. They are perfectly capable of such idiocy, because they have not carried on a responsible foreign policy for over sixty years; they have no conception what it's like. Which leaves only the United States as a constructive power on the world stage, with the Euros carping from the sides. Maybe we'll luck out, and the Euros will change, but the track record isn't good.
To make things even worse, the Turks have historic connections with the "stans," which are ethnically related, as well as China, Iran and Pakistan. A Turkish return to the Dark Ages will add a powerful force to any Islamist alliance. China, Russia, Eastern Europe and even India have vivid memories of centuries of touch-and-go warfare against Turkic Islamist invasions.
The Free World -- a phrase that is relevant again -- may therefore see no less than four kinds of Islamist radical movements in the future.
1. In Iran, we see the Khomeinist suicide cult, now thirsting after nukes. It presents a clear and present danger. Even to Democrats.
2. In Europe and elsewhere we have the Saudi version of aggressive Islamism, the Sunni Wahhabi movement. This is the source of Al Qaeda, and of the mass-murdering suicide bombers in Iraq. Using Saudi oil money, Wahhabis have taken over most of the mosques in the Western world, encouraging a flow of immigration with the clear intention of taking over the host nations. So far, the West has shown itself to be helpless to resist such a "peaceful" infiltration.
3. A third Sunni radical movement is coming from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which is using legislative elections to strengthen its power. This is the Salafist brand of totalitarianism. When Nancy Pelosi flew to Syria to beg for its help from the Khomeini fascists to get the US out of Iraq, her sidekick Steny Hoyer outraged the Egyptians by openly meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, the source of Salafist fascism in the world. The only thing the Pelosi Democrats want to know is, "whom do we surrender to?"
4. Finally, we may be seeing a Turkic Islamist radical branch emerging. Turkey controlled the last caliphate (Islamic empire), the Ottomans, which went out of business only eighty years ago. It has not been forgotten.
The whole thing is a terrible mess, and it may get worse before it gets better. But there is an obvious US policy direction: That is to treat Islamofascism as another Cold War, backed up by some of the hot proxy wars that are so painful to democratic nations -- like Iraq. During the Cold War the United States fought two major hot proxy wars, Korea and Vietnam. Those conflicts were more difficult domestically than World Wars I and II. In both cases the United States had to settle for less than victory.
We also fought a number of minor proxy wars during the Cold War, such as the Greek civil war, Israel's Yom Kippur War against Soviet-armed Syria and Egypt, and scores of efforts at subversion and Communist revolution around the world.
And yet, the Cold War ended in an extraordinary success after seventy years. Freedom, democracy and economic prosperity won an unprecedented victory. Most of the world, including the post-Communist world, is far better off today because the United States had the determination and wherewithal to mobilize a coalition of the willing, with the Atlantic Alliance at its core.
The Cold War strategy was pursued from Truman to Reagan, but it was never easy or certain of victory. There were defeats, as in Vietnam, and years of domestic uproar about places like Nicaragua. Led and coordinated by the United States, the Free World used containment as one strategic tool, counter-revolution as another, public diplomacy, espionage and counter-espionage, a vast military build-up, the Kissinger-Nixon strategy of splitting China from the USSR, all based on a strong domestic consensus between realistic liberals and conservatives. We had many alliances with dubious regimes that were a lot better than the alternative.
We see a different world today -- but still another great, long term civilizational campaign is ahead. Europe may try to stay out of the battle -- like the Swedish cop-out in World War II -- but only at the risk of its own freedom and prosperity. Russia will choose the West over the Islamists when it must, because it has done so throughout its history. China, India and Japan may do the same. They do not look to Islamism for prosperity and progress.
The ethnic Turkic world will continue to be a great battleground. As in the Cold War, we cannot expect every country to become a model democracy. The cultural leap is simply too great. So we may have to accept a Turkey and Pakistan run by military dictators, as Musharraf is doing in Pakistan today. The alternative, an Islamic fascist state with nuclear weapons, is just too awful to contemplate. In Iraq we may have to settle for less than Jeffersonian democracy. And Khomeinist Iran is clearly the next major threat for any president to face in 2009.
Bottom line: we are in the midst of another long battle for civilization, like it or not. We did not choose war against Prussian aggression in World War I, or against the Nazis 25 years later. We did not choose the fight Stalin and his successors. As FDR said, we all hate war. But being adults means facing realities we don't like.
Americans have made the right decisions before. We must find the courage and moral clarity to do it again.