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Mr. Obama: Why Are You Courting
The Muslim World In Turkey?

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

08 April, 2009

Charles de Gaulle argued that authority is derived from prestige... and prestige 'is largely a matter of feeling, suggestion and impression, and it depends primarily on the possession of an elementary gift, a natural attitude' ... lately gone by the fashionable term charisma.’ Mr. Obama’s charisma veils what is either his inordinate ability to manipulate, or his total ignorance of the Muslim world. His choice of cabinet suggests it is the former.

On his first overseas tour as President of the United States, Mr. Obama deliberately chose Turkey to make his case to Moslems and stated that the United States is ‘not at war with the Muslim world’. The choice of country merits scrutiny.

Mr. Obama praised Kamal Ataturk as someone “whose life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey’s strong and secular democracy”, he said. True, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the founder of the modern Turkish Republic but how relevant was this in reaching out to the Islamic world? Ataturk, perceived citizenship as the core of legitimacy-- citizenship based on the Western philosophy and ideology. Article 88 of Teskilat I Esasiye Kanunu 1924 ordained that all people living in Turkey, regardless of ethnic origin or religion were to be considered Turks (democratic values!). They had to be patriotic and civilized. The past was erased, total elimination of Ottoman and Islamic history, and someone else’s values were borrowed – the West, to create a national identity – a ‘revolution of value’.

It is an irony that Mr. Obama chose this ‘Islamic State’ and praised its founder for having rejected Islamic values (although Islam as a ‘historic heritage’ of overseas Moslem such those in Bosnia was accepted). Turkish non-Muslims such as Jews, Armenians, and Greeks could be citizens, but not nationals. And most importantly, the Turkish military is guardian of the Turkish Constitution and a bottom-up Islamic party is contrary to the Constitution.

This is one reason why it must be an insult on all those who hear it to have Mr. Obama say: “Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports Turkey’s bid to become a member of the European Union”. Joining the EU would weaken the military’s interventionist policies in guarding the Kamalist state ideology and the Turkish State would no longer be secular if it chose to reject the Ataturk-imposed, Western-based philosophy of citizenry.

Furthermore, as a non-EU member, America has far more leverage on Turkey than it would if it were to become an EU member. Maintaining the status quo, the United States can give Turkey a show of support and coax it into betraying its national interest while serving the US and Israel – a long time ally of Turkey’s. This arrangement has not been without rewards. The Armenian Genocide has been suppressed in the U.S. even though it has been well recorded that six years after the Madrid Conference, in 1939, Hitler referred to the Armenian Genocide thus:

“It was knowingly and lightheartedly that Genghis Khan sent thousands of women and children to their deaths. History sees in him only the founder of a state. The aim of war is not to reach definite lines but to annihilate the enemy physically. It is by this means that we shall obtain the living space that we need. Who today speaks of the massacre of the Armenians?”[i]

In 2006, France passed a bill making it an “offence to question the Armenian genocide”. How likely is it that Mr. Obama will offend Israel and pass a bill making it an offense to question the Armenian genocide if he truly supports Turkey to join the EU? Mr. Obama, it seems, is not free to choose the man who would run his National Intelligence Council – Chas Freeman was pushed out by the Israeli lobby.

Turkey has made great strides – however, one has to question Mr. Obama’s true motives. If his intentions were to have a cordial dialogue with a Moslem nation, why was the largest Moslem populated country such as Indonesia not chosen? Alternatively, Malaysia would have been an excellent venue for addressing the Moslem world. What makes Mr. Obama’s sincerity questionable is the delivery of a ‘massive shipment of U.S. weapons to Israel on March 22nd’ (Amnesty International Report) after the Israelis brutally massacred the Gazans.

One is left wondering why it is that Israel, with all its nukes, its savagery, its violation of all international laws, including the latest incident of violating the sovereignty of Sudan, blatantly threatening Iran in violation of the basic UN Charter, is deserving of so much friendship [read dictating to the U.S.] and foreign aid from the United States of America, and Iran, which has not violated any laws, is being sanctioned? Mr. Obama should realize that Charisma cannot maintain effective leadership.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has a Master of Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg for Communication. She is an independent researcher with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the influence of lobby groups.

[i] Samantha Power “A Problem from Hell – America in the Age of Genocide”. Perennial 2002

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