Model partner' or 'genocide offender'?

In "The Grand Chessboard," Zbigniev Brezezinski argues that a populist democracy has never acquired international supremacy.

Although he essentially maintains that the US becomes "more democratic" inside in order to be "autocratic" outside, which restrict its military deterrence, there are still lessons that the Obama administration can learn from Brezezinski's words. Indeed, the "road accident" in the Turkish-US relations caused by the "genocide resolution" passed by a House committee is largely attributable to "populist motives."

That Turkish-US relations can produce meaningful results in so wide a range that something as "weird" as declaring Turkey a "genocide offender" happens can only be described as a "road accident." Indeed, the "reports of accident investigation teams" arriving in Ankara show that this accident was solely caused by "executive orders," i.e., personal instructions from President Barack Obama.

Why does he do this? Because some feeble-minded advisers managed to convince him to believe this: If the genocide resolution is passed by the committee, this will encourage Turkey to ratify the Turkish-Armenian Protocols in its parliament. Turkey's reaction will not be very harsh. So let us allow this bill to be passed by the committee. Of course, they also advised him not to offend Armenian voters in the pressing heat of the nearing Congressional elections. It appears that Obama listened to these advisers. Until the last day, of course.

How heedless is it to believe that Turkey's reaction will be limited and to continue to think that Turkey will still ratify the Protocols after the genocide resolution is passed? It appears the president's men have confused the light of the train coming towards them in Turkish-US relations with the light at the end of the tunnel. It follows that superpowers can be super heedless.

In the light of this information, the message delivered by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu the day after the committee's decision can be read with fresh perspective. He said: "We are committed to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. We approach our history with full self-confidence, and therefore we are ready to share good and tragic memories. However, we will not allow our history to be judged under pressure. No one can make Turkey make a decision by force. We hope that the Turkish-US relations will not be tested once again." The person who said this is a foreign minister who had asserted one year ago that Turkish-US relations were in a golden age during the Obama era.

If Turkey cannot trust the US, then the US should know that it cannot trust Turkey in this region. If the US administration has a Caucasian policy, then it is sure that it has bumped into the wall with this move. If it has a Turkish policy, it has created very serious doubts. Don't think that these doubts only relate to US intentions about Turkey. Even worse, serious questions have started to arise concerning the US vision about the region.

The Obama administration has a seasoned ambassador in James Jeffrey, who has worked in Turkey for many years. If Jeffrey had not spent his years in Turkey in vain, then he would surely know what sort of reaction Ankara would have to a genocide resolution passed by the committee before April 24. It is very unlikely that Jeffrey would provide Washington with misleading advice. Obviously, there are other Turkey advisers in the White House. If electoral considerations create serious questions about the global vision of the administration, then things will be very hard for Obama. We had seen the neo-con bigotry, but Obama had told us and the world that things would be different.

Many Turks are sympathetic towards Obama. This sympathy is the result of Obama's being elected by rejecting Bush's policies, his being the representative of oppressed blacks, his overseas visit to Turkey after being elected and his humanitarian messages. For this reason, it is not very likely that he will explain this executive order to Turkey. Apparently, you cannot declare Turkey both a model partner and a genocide offender.

We know Ambassador Jeffrey's interest in the Turkish language. My advice to him is that he should learn the meaning of the Turkish proverb "Kılavuzu karga olanın ...." (he who chooses a crow for his guide ...) and tell it to Washington. Otherwise, if the new administration continues to work with these guides, things will not be easy for it in this region.

20 March 2010, Saturday
GÜRKAN ZENGİN