The rise of Islamist Turkey, and its deliberate and calculated instigation of a crisis in the Middle East, is reminiscent of the time period prior to the fall of the Shah of Iran.
The Turkish Islamists know exactly what they are doing by precipitating a crisis with Israel. The weakness of the Obama administration has created a power vacuum into which the Islamist are jumping.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attacked Israel repeatedly, including famously storming off the stage in January 2009 during a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres. Erdogan returned home to a hero’s welcome, and learned his lesson well. Bashing Israel works at home and elsewhere in the Muslim world. (Peres’ brilliant rebuttal, which so enraged Erdogan, is here.)
Erdogan can engage in his antics because he knows there will be no consequences. The Obama administration, having spent the past 16 months apologizing and insisting that the United States has no moral or political leadership, is in no position to exert pressure.
By singling out Israel for criticism, by humiliating Prime Minister Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, by backing a U.N. resolution on nuclear weapons directed at Israel, and by sending mixed messages about U.S. support for Israel, Obama has opened the door for people like Erdogan to ramp up their hostility towards Israel.
For Erdogan, this is a no lose proposition. Erdogan systematically has undermined independent secular groups, including the military, so he has little to worry about at home. A confrontation with Israel helps Erdogan to marginalize traditional secular Turkish society. At the same time, Erdogan gains near hero status in the Muslim world for being seen as the defender of Muslims, the latest in a series of such wannabees, from Muammar al–Gaddafi on down.
European and American leftists who support Erdogan’s confrontational tactics, like Glenn Greenwald, have lost their senses, equating repressive Islamist movements with Israel in a perverted game of moral equivalences.
The speed with which the American left jumps to the defense of Hamas, Hezbollah and other groups bent on the destruction of Israel and the rejection of the West speaks volumes to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the current American liberal intelligentsia. Do they not remember that the Iranian leftists who supported the overthrow of the Shah were among the first victims of the Islamists?
Marty Peretz has it right:
The law is on Israel’s side. Ethics and history are on Israel’s side. Those who are on the side of Hamas are actually enemies of civilization.
More than ever, the left-wing of the Democratic Party has proven itself incapable of defending our country or our friends abroad.
I am generally hopeful domestically. While Obama is doing substantial long-term damage to our economy, much of that damage can be mitigated by taking back Congress and the Presidency in the next election cycles.
Internationally, I am much more pessimistic. The toxic coalition of Islamists and leftists is hell-bent on the destruction of the West in general, and Israel in particular, and we do not have a leader willing to stand up to them.
We see the Turkey phenomenon repeated in other parts of the world, particularly South America, where Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva joined Erdogan in trying to undermine U.N. sanctions against Iran and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez continues to undermine pro-American governments.
The international damage done by Obama and the American left cannot be corrected merely by a change of administration as happened when Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter. At that time, we had a single main adversary, the Soviet Union, which allowed for policy changes which could make a difference.
In the current situation, the dangers are more dispersed and harder to manage. The rise of Islamist Turkey, the encirclement of Israel by Iran and its proxies, and the deliberate abdication of American power throughout much of the world, foretell the most dangerous international situation in at least a generation.
The world moves towards the centers of power, and those centers increasingly do not include the United States, by Obama’s design.
Sorry to be so down, but the Islamist-leftist danger is real and will not go away anytime soon. The Iranian revolution now is in its fourth decade, so the destruction of secular Turkey and the rise of the Islamist-leftist axis, will be with us for generations if we do not change our course very soon.
Decades from now, we will look back on this time period as the bad old days. I hope.
Because if these are the good old days, we are in deep trouble.
Update: Great minds think alike. Victor Davis Hanson writes of the similarities to the period before the fall of the Shah, Our 1979 (I beat him to the post by over an hour!).