Cyprus

by John Quiggin on February 20, 2004

No one much has noticed, but what will probably turn out to be the biggest geopolitical event of the year took place last weekend. I’m referring to the announcement by Kofi Annan of a referendum on the reunification of Cyprus to be held on 21 April this year. There’s still room for something to go wrong, but I’ll present my analysis on the basis that the referendum will be held and approved, which seems likely at present.

Why should settlement of a long-running dispute on a Mediterranean island, with no recent flare-ups, be so important ? Let me count the ways.

First, this is another victory for the boring old UN processes so disdained by unilateralists.

Second, a settlement of the Cyprus dispute would mark the end of hostilities between the modern states of Greece and Turkey that go back to the achievement of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire 200 years ago. Taking a longer historical view, the predecessor states of the modern Greece and Turkey have been at the frontline of hostilities between Islam and Christendom for 1000 years or more. By comparison with this dispute, the troubles in Ireland are of recent vintage.

Third, and most important, the positive role played by the Turkish government, until now the sponsor of the separatist government in Northern Cyprus, will greatly strengthen Turkey’s case to become a candidate for admission to the European Union. Admission of Turkey, which could be expected to follow by around 2010, would dramatically change the dynamic of Middle Eastern politics. Iraq, Iran and Syria would all have borders with Europe. With membership of the EU, Turkey would provide a model of a secular, democratic and increasingly prosperous state in a predominantly Islamic country. By comparison, the replacement of the odious Saddam Hussein with an imperfectly democratic Islamist government dominated by Shiites (the most plausible current outcome for Iraq) would fade into insignifance.

A decision by the EU to reject Turkey, despite its dramatic progress towards a fully democratic system of government, would be equally significant, but in the negative direction. The advocates of rejection, most notably the German Christian (!) Democrats would correctly be seen as being motivated primarily by anti-Islamic prejudice. This would be a big setback in the struggle against terrorist forms of Islamism.

{ 32 comments }

1

jl 02.20.04 at 6:26 am

Yes, and I can see it now… an unholy alliance between Islamists and “ultra-liberals” arguing that Turkey should NOT be allowed into the EU until the Turkish ban on hijabs is rescinded!

2

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.20.04 at 7:33 am

Does Turkey honestly have real chance at being admitted into the EU? I really no very little about the issue, but on first hearing it doesn’t seem very likely.

3

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 8:23 am

Mr Quiggin,

Admission of Turkey, which could be expected to follow by around 2010, would dramatically change the dynamic of Middle Eastern politics.

And the removal of Saddam Hussein hasn’t?! Apparently, you think that the removal of a major source of destability in the Middle East is “insignificant”, in comparison to Turkey’s entry into the EU. Can you show me how you draw such a conclusion? Or even begin to compare apples with oranges?

Iraq, Iran and Syria would all have borders with Europe. With membership of the EU, Turkey would provide a model of a secular, democratic and increasingly prosperous state in a predominantly Islamic country. By comparison, the replacement of the odious Saddam Hussein with an imperfectly democratic Islamist government dominated by Shiites (the most plausible current outcome for Iraq) would fade into insignifance.

So, the deeper point of your compare and contrast is . . . ?

Are you suggesting that the EU ‘got it right’ while the US didn’t? If so, it behooves you to actually look at what you are comparing.

Turkey is a moderate, secular democracy very much part of the world community and keen to join the EU. Its foreign relations are conducted with rapprochement in mind. By contrast, Iraq was a despotic dictatorship with pariah status, and was not particularly amenable to diplomacy.

Is it any wonder that approaches may differ with regards to conducting relations with either?

If so, what is the point of your comparison, if you don’t mean to suggest from it that one approach yields better results than the other?

Next, are you suggesting that Turkey wasn’t “secular”, “democratic” and “increasingly prosperous” prior to membership of the EU? And that the EU managed to bring about these previously non-existent qualities in Turkey, thereby underscoring the triumph of EU-style diplomacy/multilaterism?

If so, then you – to put it mildly – exaggerate. If not, then what is your point?

In any case, you come to the conclusion that, in contrast to what the US brings about in Iraq, the end product of US unilateralism in Iraq would, in your view, likely be an insignificant failure (in comparison).

If so, you are comparing apples and oranges with your simplistic gloss. You might as well say that EU-style diplomacy is a continuing and continual failure with the Israelis with regards to Palestine, but US unilateralism triumphs in Libya. Ergo EU-style diplomacy fails to “change the dynamic” in Middle-East politics, while US unilateralism yields great results in comparison. Do you swallow that? No? Well, _your_ triumphalism in this regard rings just as hollow.

If not, then what is your point?

4

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 8:31 am

Oh well, I now see the Catallarchy folks make pretty much the same point.

5

BP 02.20.04 at 8:34 am

enthymeme

John Quiggin puts two possible outcomes on the table, one positive, one negative, and you go ballistic with the assumption that he is taking the positive outcome for granted. What’s your beef?

Now if you need a fencing-partner to take you up on a totally unrelated argument vis-a-vis unilateralism with Iraq as the centerpiece, then I’m your man.

6

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 8:48 am

Mr bp,

Was my complaint that he took the positive outcome for granted?

Or was it rather that his conclusion does not follow from comparing apples with oranges?

You might like to take the time to read Quiggin’s post and my response again.

7

Doug 02.20.04 at 9:29 am

First, this is another victory for the boring old UN processes so disdained by unilateralists.

Actually, it’s a big victory for the magnetic attraction of the European Union. The promise of joining Europe – shorthand for being free and either wealthy or on-the-way-to-wealth – has worked wonders in Central and Eastern Europe. It’s this same promise that has brought movement to the Cyprus debate for the first time in 30 years.

UN representatives could talk until they were blue in the helmet (and they have without noticeable effect), but it’s been the EU that has made the difference. Claiming victory for the UN is like the cock taking credit for the dawn.

8

John Quiggin 02.20.04 at 10:03 am

Doug, I agree about the magnetic pull of the EU as the fundamental cause (contrary to enthemyme, it’s clear that this has made a big difference in Turkey) but it’s still a mistake to dismiss the UN. The EU put the incentives for unification on the table quite a while ago, and it wasn’t clear, until now, that the parties would get past the obstacles created by their bargaining positions.

UN processes only work when both sides want them to work, but that doesn’t make them redundant.

9

john s 02.20.04 at 10:11 am

Sebastian,
Turkish membership of the EU is very firmly a prospect. Negotiations for Turkish accession to the EU will probably begin in December this year. But I think Mr Quiggin’s guess that Turkey could join in 2010 is ambitious. At the very least, the current enlargement in May this year is going to be a huge challenge. Think of the problems Germany has had with reunification. Or the problems of decision-making with 25 member states. While the EU is still in the thick of adjusting to this enlargement, it will be reluctant to add Turkey. That wouldn’t be racism, it would be realism.

Enthymene,
the prospect of EU membership could quite plausibly help forces in Turkey pushing for greater democracy. You can’t join unless you are democratic so, if you want to join, you’d better make sure you are democratic. In fact, I think the prospect of EU membership has probably done more than the UN to help resolve the Cyprus issue. No Cyprus settlement would probably bust Turkey’s chances of EU membership.

Though I basically agree with Mr Quiggin that Turkey should be invited to join the EU, dismissing opposition to Turkish membership as racism is a bit glib. When a country is small and rich, its easy for the EU to absorb it – look at the 1995 Nordic enlargement. But when a country’s huge and very, very poor, enlargement is a staggering problem.

Turkey’s size would give it substantial voting power inside the EU. It should also receive huge flows of EU regional aid and agricultural subsidies, flows which it could then supplement using its voting power. Most EU member states would become net contributors to the EU budget, very few, possibly only Turkey, would be net recipients. The EU today partly works by spreading the money around relatively broadly. The political risks of most member states basically funding just one member state are obvious. Think how the UK’s tabloid press would discuss that.

10

John Quiggin 02.20.04 at 10:50 am

On reflection, I agree that 2010 is probably too tight a timetable. In view of the pressures you mention, the characteristic EU response would be to spin out the admission process a bit, and try to scale down agricultural subsidies in the meantime. Not glorious, but muddling through like this has worked pretty well so far.

I agree that anti-Islamic prejudice wouldn’t be the only factor in a rejection of Turkey but it would be the decisive factor and (equally importantly) would be seen that way. There were similar issues in the cases of Spain and the Eastern European countries and the EU took the risk in those cases.

11

Dutch 02.20.04 at 11:35 am


On reflection, I agree that 2010 is probably too tight a timetable.

The Dutch foreign minister Bot gave a target date of 2015 for Turkey to become a full member of the EU. He is very much pro EU but also a realist, so I think his target would be a better guess.

And 2015 is also the result of a poll among ‘analysts’:

http://www.turkishnewsline.com/haber.php?id=16793

12

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 12:04 pm

No one even seems to be addressing my original comments.

Mr Quiggin writes:

Doug, I agree about the magnetic pull of the EU as the fundamental cause (contrary to enthemyme, it’s clear that this has made a big difference in Turkey) . . .

And nowhere did I suggest that the EU did not “make a big difference”. Especially with regards to the Cyprus issue. Stop fudging, Mr Quiggin. You raised three areas specifically which you allude were due to the EU – secularism, democracy, and “increasing prosperity” when in fact the first two or even all three are _already_ present now. It is _not_ due to the EU that Turkey was founded on secular principles and it is _not_ due to the EU that Turkey is a democracy. You make as if Turkey was not either of these things before the EU entered the picture, which is, as I’ve said before, _an exaggeration_, to put it politely. Turkey is of course, a democracy – and secular too. Do you deny this? Are you maintaining that democracy and secularism in Turkey are due to EU diplomacy, as if Turkey did not have these things before?

You then conclude, from doubtful premises about what EU-style rapprochement actually achieved, that Turkey’s ascension to the EU would represent a significant change in dynamic in Middle Eastern politics, compared to the change we’ve had in Iraq. Leaving aside (1) your faulty premises (see above) and (2) the fact that you have not demonstrated how a secular, democratic and “increasingly prosperous Turkey” is going to _significantly_ (in comparison to Iraq) change that dynamic, you fail even to show that it is meaningful to make the comparison between apples and oranges (see my first post).

Now, you fall back on “UN processes only work when both sides want them to work, but that doesn’t make them redundant.” But of course, Mr Quiggin, no one in this thread suggested otherwise. What is being suggested is that your triumphalism regarding one approach (the EU’s or the UN’s) over another (the US’s) rings hollow.

Now perhaps you would like to address the original criticisms of your argument by showing how your conclusion follows from sound premises? And also, how is it that you are able to compare apples to oranges, and derive the conclusions you do?

Mr John S,

the prospect of EU membership could quite plausibly help forces in Turkey pushing for greater democracy. You can’t join unless you are democratic so, if you want to join, you’d better make sure you are democratic.

Yes, fair enough. But of course, Turkey is already democratic. What you mean is that it be _sufficiently democratic_ by the EU’s standards. This is quite different from saying that the EU is responsible for democracy and secularism taking root in Turkey, which is an absurd proposition. Given that Turkey is already these things, it seems to me an exaggeration to say, as per John Quiggin, that an incremental increase in democracy and secularism in and _already_ democratic and secular country is going to _significantly_ change the dynamic of politics in the Middle East.

Also, this still does not address how Mr Quiggin manages to come to his conclusion (that one approach is better than another in the sense of being “significant”) when he’s comparing unlike cases that obviously require different approaches. Again, apples and oranges.

13

BP 02.20.04 at 12:27 pm

Ms. enthymeme wrote:

“This is quite different from saying that the EU is responsible for democracy and secularism taking root in Turkey, which is an absurd proposition.”

Where exactly did anyone say that? In the original text I see *With membership of the EU, Turkey would provide a model of a secular, democratic and increasingly prosperous state in a predominantly Islamic country.*

Personally I see no reason to blow a gasket at the thought that “model for” might possibly be a Quigginish euphemism for “responsible for”.

14

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 12:38 pm

Oh, so Mr Quiggin is not saying that? That was why I asked

Next, are you suggesting that Turkey wasn’t “secular”, “democratic” and “increasingly prosperous” prior to membership of the EU? And that the EU managed to bring about these previously non-existent qualities in Turkey, thereby underscoring the triumph of EU-style diplomacy/multilaterism?

In my original post. So, if he’s not saying that, and if that’s not his argument justifying triumphalism with regards to EU or UN-type rapprochement re: Iraq, what is his point?

Either he has (1) no argument or (2) no point.

Which is it?

15

BP 02.20.04 at 12:44 pm

While I’m picking nits …

Ms enthymeme stated:
“Mr bp,
Was my complaint that he took the positive outcome for granted? “

Yes, it was. I cite:

*Are you suggesting that the EU ‘got it right’ while the US didn’t? If so, it behooves you to actually look at what you are comparing.*

Turkey is not yet a member of the EU, and thus the question of getting it “right” or “wrong” is still open.

The other part of your complaint, that comparing the ‘multilateralist’ approach a la Turkey with the ‘unilateralist’ approach of carpet-bombing johny foreigner into democracy is an apples-and-oranges comparison, would be more plausible if you were to put better examples on the table.

1. EU-style ‘multilateralist’ diplomacy is not being practiced in the Israel-Palestine question by definition: three of the four biggest players are not using that stratagem (Israel, Palestine, and the US).

2. Ditto w.r.t Libya. Qaddafi has been trying to kiss Western butt for over a decade, and finally he’s succeeded – seems to me that the kissy-kissy approach does work well when confronting hostile powers, no?

16

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 12:47 pm

Now if you need a fencing-partner to take you up on a totally unrelated argument vis-a-vis unilateralism . . .

Totally unrelated?? It is clear to me you can’t follow an argument very well.

First, Mr Quiggin seems to me to be suggesting that EU-style rapprochement, when successful, entails better and more significant outcomes (in comparison to American style unilateralism).

My objection addresses this conclusion of his, which is implicit in the first and third points he made re: “Let me count the ways.”

Second, that the positive outcome might not obtain is of course, irrelevant to his argument for the aforementioned conclusion.

Third, I am saying that, assuming the positive outcome, the conclusion doesn’t follow. It goes without saying that, assuming the negative outcome, even less does the conclusion follow. Nowhere am I saying that he is taking the positive outcome for granted. Indeed, my objection hinges on assuming the positive outcome. So what are you on about?

Sorry Mr bp, but I don’t wish to talk in circles with you. This is what happens when you fail to follow an argument, or address in any substantive manner my original post.

All you seem keen to do is to impute being angry to your opponents (“ballistic”, “blowing a gasket”). Don’t waste my time and yours. Thanks.

17

BP 02.20.04 at 1:01 pm

Ms enthymeme

1. Turkey is a secular, democratic Islamic nation.
2. Most Islamic nations are neither secular nor democratic.
3. Turkey’s military, while fostering secularity, have an unfortunate reptation for undermining its democratic processes.
4. Turkey has Islamic fundamentalists who participate in its democratic processes, but who are alas inclined to derail its secularism.
5. These two forces mean that Turkey’s status as a shining beacon of secularism and democracy are by no means assured.
6. The pressure from the EU (with as carrot membership) vis-a-vis the convergence path w.r.t human rights, fiscal accountability, treatment of Kurds and other minorities, governmental due diligence, alignment of Turkey’s legal and fiscal codes with the West, etc is directed in pushing Turkey further along the path to stability.
7. It might, or might not work. It might fail if the EU refuses Turkey admisson on -irony- religious grounds.
8. If – *if* -it works, Turkey will have beome – essentially – a Western country, with legal and penal codes similar to the rest of Europe, similar financial, accounting, environmental, health, governmental regulations etc. And this all to ‘soft’ pressure, without having to shock and awe Ankara into submission.

The future of Turkey is by no means writ in stone, and as the largest player in the Middle East, the EU is trying to nudge it on the right path. That’s all good, no?

18

Penelope 02.20.04 at 1:08 pm

“By comparison [with Turkey’s accession to the EU], the replacement of the odious Saddam Hussein with an imperfectly democratic Islamist government dominated by Shiites (the most plausible current outcome for Iraq) would fade into insignifance.”

Mr. Quiggin,

I would be interested to know if you think that Turkey would have as good a chance at accession in 2010 if Hussein’s government (or one run by one of his sons) were still in power and the EU were faced with the prospect of sharing a long common border with such a state? It seems to me that Hussein’s ouster might have significantly increased Turkey’s chances for EU membership.

Penelope

19

Barry 02.20.04 at 1:14 pm

enthymeme:

“And the removal of Saddam Hussein hasn’t?! Apparently, you think that the removal of a major source of destability in the Middle East is “insignificant”, in comparison to Turkey’s entry into the EU. Can you show me how you draw such a conclusion? Or even begin to compare apples with oranges?”

If and when there is evidence of increased stability in the Middle East, associated with the removal of Saddam, you’ll have a right to assert that the removal of Saddam removed a major source of destability.

20

bp 02.20.04 at 1:14 pm

Ms enthymeme wrote:

“First, Mr Quiggin seems to me to be suggesting that EU-style rapprochement, *when successful*, entails better and more significant outcomes (in comparison to American style unilateralism).”

Emphasis mine. I don’t follow you here. Is your point that John is suggesting

(1) that rapprochement is not necessarily more successful than American-style unilateralism (which is not what you wrote, but possibly what you meant)

(2) that rapprochement *when successful* creates better outcomes than US-style unilateralism (whih is what you wrote, and is a tautology because, “successful” always implies “good outcomes”)

(3) that successful rapprochement creates better outcomes than successful unilateralism

Of all three possible interpretations it seems to me Mr. Quiggins is suggesting none of the above, and it is unclear even which possible interpretation you have in mind.

“All you seem keen to do is to impute being angry to your opponents”

Well you do seem angry, and it’s difficult to pin a direct connection between exactly what it is you are angry about, and Quiggin’s actual text. My guess is hurt national pride, and people who get affronted at the very suggestion that their country falls short of perfection every now and then make easy targets.

21

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 2:38 pm

Ms enthymeme stated:
“Mr bp,
Was my complaint that he took the positive outcome for granted?”

Yes, it was. I cite:

Are you suggesting that the EU ‘got it right’ while the US didn’t? If so, it behooves you to actually look at what you are comparing.

Uh, no it wasn’t. Stop equivocating. “Positive outcome” refers to Turkey’s successful entry into the EU. NOT the EU “getting it right”. Mr Quiggin is suggesting that EU-style rapprochement is better than American unilateralism by comparing Turkey with Iraq and suggesting that Turkey will be the more _significant_ of the two with regards to changing the dynamic of Middle Eastern politics.

My objection is that assuming Turkey enters the EU, Mr Quiggin’s argument remains unsound – Mr Quiggin is comparing apples with oranges. Assuming that Turkey doesn’t, lesser still does the conclusion follow. Assuming either, his conclusion (triumphalism with regards to rapprochement) _does not follow_.

How is this saying that he is taking anything for granted? Please quote me to that effect instead of imagining things. Or you could, like me, ask if you’re not sure, you know.

Turkey is not yet a member of the EU, and thus the question of getting it “right” or “wrong” is still open.

Mr bp, with all due respect, you don’t seem to have read Mr Quiggin’s post. And really, if you haven’t, don’t waste my time. Mr Quiggin, if you recall, sought to justify his triumphalist pronouncements regarding EU or UN-type rapprochement by making an argument on the assumption that Turkey might be joining the EU. It is to that argument (and its premises) that my objections are addressed, and naturally, I do so by assuming Mr Quiggin’s premises/assumptions and seeing if his argument is valid.

If it’s still an “open” question, as you say, then why is Mr Quiggin mouthing off about the apparent triumph of UN or EU-style diplomacy in the Mid-East? Shouldn’t your objections be addressed to Mr Quiggin then? It’s his argument and his premises, you know. I find your ripostes . . . most amusing.

The other part of your complaint, that comparing the ‘multilateralist’ approach a la Turkey with the ‘unilateralist’ approach of carpet-bombing johny foreigner into democracy is an apples-and-oranges comparison, would be more plausible if you were to put better examples on the table.

Mr bp, the example of Turkey vs. Iraq is Mr Quiggin’s, not mine. I have already pointed out the relevant differences between the two. Instead of addressing those, you claim to want “better” examples. That’s just evading the original question and the issues therein.

EU-style ‘multilateralist’ diplomacy is not being practiced in the Israel-Palestine question by definition: three of the four biggest players are not using that stratagem (Israel, Palestine, and the US).

So why didn’t EU engagement with Israel and Palestine succeed? Or EU engagement with the former Yugoslavia for that matter? The Oslo peace accords was as multilateral as it got, no? So, why didn’t it succeed? Why is the process a present day failure? Could it be because – gasp – it *failed*? See the relevant difference? Multilateralism works only for parties who care for it. Mr Hussein of the former Iraq didn’t, which is why you are comparing apples and oranges in assuming that multilateralism works as well for Iraq as for Turkey.

Ditto w.r.t Libya. Qaddafi has been trying to kiss Western butt for over a decade, and finally he’s succeeded – seems to me that the kissy-kissy approach does work well when confronting hostile powers, no?

You do realize, don’t you, that you just made my point in reverse?

Recall that I said:

You might as well say that EU-style diplomacy is a continuing and continual failure with the Israelis with regards to Palestine, but US unilateralism triumphs in Libya. Ergo EU-style diplomacy fails to “change the dynamic” in Middle-East politics, while US unilateralism yields great results in comparison. Do you swallow that? No? Well, your triumphalism in this regard rings just as hollow.

So no, you don’t swallow that. And further, you think multilateralism with regards to Palestine has failed due to the unilateralist inclinations of the parties involved at Oslo. Yet you don’t think that unilateralist Iraq is going to do the same with regards to diplomatic overtures?! Be consistent, bp. Why the double standards? Apple and oranges, again.

But I’m not going to get sidetracked. I ask again, as per my original post:

How does Mr Quiggin’s conclusion follow from sound premises? And also, how is it that he compares apples to oranges, and is able to derive the conclusions he does?

The future of Turkey is by no means writ in stone, and as the largest player in the Middle East, the EU is trying to nudge it on the right path. That’s all good, no?

?? Nobody suggested otherwise. Mr bp, my objections to Mr Quiggin’s reasoning were detailed in my first post. Let’s stop fudging the issues.

Barry,

If and when there is evidence of increased stability in the Middle East, associated with the removal of Saddam, you’ll have a right to assert that the removal of Saddam removed a major source of destability.

Oh really? Do you not agree that Saddam was a major source of destability? If you do, it follows trivially that his removal is the removal of a major source of destability. The argument runs thus:

Premise 1: Saddam was a major source of destability.

Premise 2: Saddam was removed.

Conclusion: A major source of destability was removed.

Elementary logic, Barry. Do you disagree with premise 1? Of course, removing a major source of destability does not guarantee that net stability in the Middle East has increased (there might be other sources of destability exacerbated by said removal). Yet this does not change the fact that such a source has been removed.

At any event, what has this to do with my original point – that the removal of Saddam obviously does significantly change the dynamic of Middle Eastern politics (in comparison to Turkey’s assumed imminent entry into the EU)? Nothing, apparently. Just a bit of hand waving.

Mr bp,

that rapprochement is not necessarily more successful than American-style unilateralism (which is not what you wrote, but possibly what you meant)

Uh, it is what I wrote, and what I meant. I said that Mr Quiggin’s argument(s) for his conclusion (that one approach is better than another in the sense of being “significant”) are unsound because he’s comparing unlike cases that obviously require different approaches. And THEREFORE, one approach is not necessarily more successful than the other (in spite of Mr Quiggin’s suggestions to the contrary).

that rapprochement when successful creates better outcomes than US-style unilateralism (whih is what you wrote, and is a tautology because, “successful” always implies “good outcomes”)

Yes.

that successful rapprochement creates better outcomes than successful unilateralism

Yes too.

Of all three possible interpretations it seems to me Mr. Quiggins is suggesting none of the above, and it is unclear even which possible interpretation you have in mind.

I meant all three. Is he suggesting none of them? That’s why I asked if he did. If not, what is his point? What is the point of claiming triumph for rapprochement (“another victory”) in contrast with the “insignificance” of American unilateralism? No point, presumably? Indeed, I think Mr Quiggin is suggesting the above interpretations. Otherwise, what is the point of his compare and contrast exercise? What, pray tell?

Again, this was asked from the outset. But no, you have to talk in circles instead of addressing my original post.

Well you do seem angry, and it’s difficult to pin a direct connection between exactly what it is you are angry about, and Quiggin’s actual text. My guess is hurt national pride, and people who get affronted at the very suggestion that their country falls short of perfection every now and then make easy targets.

Mr bp, if I do seem angry _now_, it’s because every now and again stupidity like yours grates. First, you try to rile by making offhanded personal remarks imputing anger. Now, you try to rile even more by assuming I’m American, and trying to diss me for it. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not even a Westerner. Though I can see how you have to resort to pathetic ad homs to irritate your interlocutors, instead of addressing what I say in a substantive manner. You insult readers’ intelligence with your reactionary jibing. But you know what? Let’s not waste my time and yours, so don’t bother replying.

22

bp 02.20.04 at 3:36 pm

Ms. enthymeme

That was an exceedingly long post, quite difficult to read. May I ask that you

1. Calm down
2. Point out where Quiggins is being “triumphalist” or “claims triumph”
3. Beef up your claims that Quiggins is wrong when he says that if Iraq becomes into Iran Version 2.0 it will have little historic significance
4. Make your points in a sufficiently succint and coherent manner. For instance, I asked you above what you meant by a particular statement *you* had written, and you answered “yes” to all three (differing) alternatives, (going so far as to insist that one of the sentences was precisely what you wrote *even though I had edited it to change its meaning*).

If you aren’t American or even Western (I am :-) then I apologize, but you do sound awfully annoyed at the allusions to the failure of unilateralism in Iraq, and that’s a pretty US attitude. Tell me, do you also have strong feelings on the subject of school vouchers and socialist health care?

23

Matt Weiner 02.20.04 at 3:49 pm

3. Turkey’s military, while fostering secularity, have an unfortunate reputation for undermining its democratic processes

And while we’re discussing the Iraq war as a force for democracy in the Middle East, let us remember that in the run-up to the Iraq war the Bush government encouraged the military to undermine Turkey’s democratic processes.
On Turkish televisions, Paul Wolfowitz said that the Administration was disappointed that the Turkish military “did not play the strong leadership role on that issue [i.e., the Iraq debate] that we would have expected.”

To continue quoting Josh Marshall,
“Outside the context of Turkish politics, that statement might seem obscure or insignificant. But in Turkey the meaning seemed painfully clear: The United States wished the Turkish military had either overruled the elected government or perhaps even pushed it aside in favor of one more subservient to U.S. demands. As numerous Turkish commentators have noted, that’s an odd stance for a country now presenting itself as the champion of Middle Eastern democracy.”
It is not remotely clear that the Iraq war will create greater stability and democracy in the Middle East. If it didn’t decrease stability and democracy in Turkey, that’s not the Bush Administration’s fault.

24

enthymeme 02.20.04 at 4:33 pm

Mr bp,

Point out where Quiggins is being “triumphalist” or “claims triumph”

“First, this is another victory for the boring old UN processes so disdained by unilateralists.”

“Admission of Turkey . . . would dramatically change the dynamic of Middle Eastern politics. . . . With membership of the EU, Turkey would provide a model of a secular, democratic and increasingly prosperous state in a predominantly Islamic country. By comparison, the replacement of the odious Saddam Hussein . . . would fade into insignifance.”

Again, Mr bp, I have pointed this out from the outset. I said: “My objection addresses [that] which is implicit in the first and third points he made re: “Let me count the ways.”” So again, I’d prefer we not talk in circles.

Beef up your claims that Quiggins is wrong when he says that if Iraq becomes into Iran Version 2.0 it will have little historic significance.

Little significance *in comparison* with _Turkey’s assumed imminent entry into the EU_.

I claimed that Quiggin’s argument for this _comparative insignificance_ is unsound. It is for you to show that his conclusion follows.

Even if Iraq turns into a democratic Islamist government dominated by Shi’ites, _it does not follow that such an outcome is an insignificant change from Saddam’s dictatorship_. Can you show that it does? What in “democratic Islamist government dominated by Shi’ites” entails “comparative insignificance” in terms of a change in dynamic of Middle Eastern politics? Show me.

Make your points in a sufficiently succint and coherent manner. For instance, I asked you above what you meant by a particular statement you had written, and you answered “yes” to all three (differing) alternatives

Right, my mistake. Regarding just that statement of mine, then I meant interpretations (2) and (3).

However, your three alternatives are differing but not mutually inconsistent. In general, I get the impression that Mr Quiggin is implying all three. You say he is not implying _any_ of them. I am therefore asking you what is the point of his compare and contrast exercise then?

(going so far as to insist that one of the sentences was precisely what you wrote even though I had edited it to change its meaning).

Yep, my mistake.

Tell me, do you also have strong feelings on the subject of school vouchers and socialist health care?

No. But in general, I have strong feelings when I encounter poor logic and unsound arguments.

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enthymeme 02.20.04 at 4:40 pm

Matt,

Right. We have in Turkey the strange situation of secularism being in tension with the democratic process. If the military did not intervene, secularism would likely have been undermined by Islamist parties sweeping to power.

So if the Turkish military is somehow prevented from interfering with the democratic process, and if that process is strengthened as a result of its entry into the EU, then a possible outcome could be that Turkey turns Islamist, and less secular. What was it about secularism and democracy from John Quiggin again?

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aphrael 02.20.04 at 5:47 pm

I was in Turkey at the time this happened, and it was very interesting reading the articles and the letters to the editor to Turkey’s english language daily. Most of the letters ran in favor of the compromise, but there were some editorials by authors who were absolutely horrified that the fuzzy-headed liberals in the Turkish government are letting the EU browbeat the Turks in Cyprus into allowing the Greek population to annhilate them. (No, really; the anti-compromise articles were written in hysterical apocalyptic terms and seemed convinced that the rules would be rigged to the advantage of the Greeks and the disadvantage of the Turks).

The two fascinating things about this were that the opponents to compromise in cyprus use pretty much exactly the same rhetoric to attack their enemies that the proponents of invading Iraq used to attack their political enemies in the US (calling their opponents weak, or traitors, or fuzzy-headed), and the there seems to be a complete disconnect in world view between those that are in favor of a compromise (who mostly see it as the best thing for northern cyprus, and turkey, economically) and those who are against it (who mostly see it as giving away the store and creating a situation in which the evils of the late 1960s will be played out again).

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Matt Weiner 02.20.04 at 8:04 pm

enthymeme–
Turkey does seem to have the tension you describe, but that wasn’t what was at issue in this case. Wolfowitz wasn’t calling on the military to restrain the government from Islamism–he was calling on the military to impose an unpopular foreign policy. For more, I recommend the whole 28

robin green 02.20.04 at 11:05 pm

I sincerely hope that the EU will demand a complete cessation of torture as a precondition of entry for Turkey.

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Anthony 02.21.04 at 12:45 am

bp – while you argue wth enthymeme over just how democratic and secular Turkey really is or is not, you miss the larger points where Mr. Quiggin is wrong:

That Turkey’s ability to “provide a model of a secular, democratic and increasingly prosperous state in a predominantly Islamic country.” depends on EU membership. It does not, though EU membership may improve its chances. The weaker claim gives lie to the idea that the referendum in Cyprus is that terribly geopolitically significant, as Turkey’s power as a model does not depend on EU membership.

That bringing Turkey within the EU orbit is likely to be more geopolitically significant than anything else that might happen this year, or the replacement of Saddam Hussein. Given that this year will see the establishment of Iraqi self-government, and may see a civil war in Iraq, an anti-theocratic revolution in Iran, a war between Syria and Israel, a civil war in the Palestinian-occupied territories, the collapse of Musharraf’s regime in Pakistan, the collapse of North Korea, and a presidential election which might see the US turn significanty more protectionist,claiming that much geopolitical significance for the referendum in Cyprus is quite the stretch.

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John Quiggin 02.21.04 at 2:08 am

The tension between democracy and secularism in Turkey is a crucial part of my argument. Without the carrot of EU membership, it seems unlikely that this would have been resolved in a favorable way. Not only has the EU process encourage the military to stay in the barracks, but it has forced the Islamist parties, currently in government, to a moderate (essentially secularist) position, for fear of taking the blame for an EU rejection.

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Nigel Holland 02.22.04 at 10:36 pm

The reason Cypriots are now ready to talk peace has nothing to do with EU or UN initiatives, these initiatives are the result of a desire for peace. The real reason is the economic disparity between the north and south. The economic liberalism of the south with it’s booming tourist trade etc has not gone unnoticed in the north, the Turkish Cypriots are just following the principles of enlightened self interest and want in on the action.

I’ll rephrase that in language you may understand, capitalism is the root cause of peace in Cyprus.

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FransGroenendijk 02.23.04 at 12:52 am

“Given that this year will see the establishment of Iraqi self-government, and may see a civil war in Iraq, an anti-theocratic revolution in Iran, a war between Syria and Israel, a civil war in the Palestinian-occupied territories, the collapse of Musharraf’s regime in Pakistan, the collapse of North Korea, and a presidential election which might see the US turn significantly more protectionist, claiming that much geopolitical significance for the referendum in Cyprus is quite the stretch.”
Yes, but very special to this issue is that it could trigger a chain of events all very positive. Of course this was the objective of getting rid of Saddam but that first step had lots of negative consequences immediately. On beforehand even.
But otoh all that positive events need huge efforts still.
Turkeys membership of the EU is not that unthinkable as some seem to judge it, -actually the discussion on Turkey’s membership in the Netherlands concentrates on whether Turkey’s membership will slip through without enough debate!- but it needs real courage from European politicians on international politics. I hope “Turkey” will play an important role in the upcoming EP-elections and indeed “that the EU will demand a complete cessation of torture as a precondition of entry for Turkey.”

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