[Originally published in Hürriyet Daily News] Soner Çağaptay is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is also a prolific author, whose commentaries about Turkey appear quite frequently in prestigious newspapers and magazines. When you read them, you can’t help but sense what appears to be his strong political orientation against the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which has governed Turkey since 2002. The takeaway message, it seems, is that the AKP is perilously Islamist and is taking the country away from its secular principles. The second message is that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his authoritarian “single party” regime is the best thing that ever happened to the Turks. In Turkey, Mr. Çağaptay has millions of like-minded thinkers. We call them Kemalists. Atatürk is a respected figure for most of us, to be sure, as a war hero and a state founder. But Kemalists also strictly subscribe to the ideological program that he imposed for 15 years by banning all political opposition. In that sense, Kemalists constitute only a faction of Turkish society. Yet they are very powerful, thanks to their dominance in the military, judiciary, bureaucracy and the media.
Newsweek (USA), Nov 15, 2008
Since the AKP assumed power in 2002, Turks have heard nothing positive about the West from their leaders.
Dear President-Elect Obama: As you take office, I am enthusiastically watching your desire to win hearts and minds around the world. But I am concerned in particular about Turkey. This nation is the embodiment of what the United States and the West want to achieve around the world. It is predominantly Muslim, yet Western and democratic. But the Turks are vehemently anti-American, so much so that they consistently rank in polls as the most anti-American country in the world.
The two countries share strategic concerns. They should work more closely together.
By The Monitor’s Editorial Board
To celebrate Barack Obama’s election as the 44th US president, villagers in a remote province of Turkey sacrificed 44 sheep. It was a small gesture in a faraway land, but one with a big message: hope for a revived relationship."
[Originally published in Newsweek] For years Ankara’s foreign policy was fixated on a few narrow topics—how to handle the Greeks, the Kurds and Armenians—and Turkish policymakers seemed unable to solve even these chronic problems, let alone the problems of others. But these days Turkey has tackled such regional concerns with a new gusto—making the first real headway on the Cyprus issue in decades, for instance—while playing a far larger role in global affairs. In May Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government mediated indirect peace talks between Syrian and Israeli officials in Istanbul. The talks are now ongoing, and further meetings have reportedly been scheduled. Erdogan also recently stepped forward to offer help to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to deal with Iran, which Turkey’s prime minister and many others expect to be Obama’s biggest foreign-policy challenge. On November 11 Erdogan told The New York Times his government was willing to be the mediator between the new U.S. administration and Tehran. "We are the only capital that is trusted by both sides," he reiterated later in Washington. "We are the ideal negotiator."
"Let Reagan be Reagan!" That was the slogan of Ronald Reagan’s conservative followers. They were afraid that their leader’s sharp ideological thrust was being blunted by timidity and moderation. The shrewder among them were also aware that, while a president of the United States is very powerful, he is not omnipotent.Godfrey Hodgson was director of the Reuters’ Foundation Programme at Oxford University, and before that the Observer’s correspondent in the United States and foreign editor of the Independent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today that in 2007:
- Twenty percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at home on days that they worked, and 87 percent did some or all of their work at their workplace.
- On an average day (which includes all 7 days of the week), 83 percent of women and 66 percent of men spent some time doing household activities, such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management.
- Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time, accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for both men and women.
Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential election brought everyone hope that their problems would finally be addressed. With this vision, outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leaders Murat Karayılan and Zubeyir Aydar sent a letter to Obama, congratulating him on his electoral victory and stating:
Soon after Barack Obama was given the title president-elect, the dynamics that have surrounded Bush and that have been effective in inspiring "neocon" policies as regards to Turkey were being given fresh impetus to be transferred unchanged into the new administration.
Millions around the world are in seventh heaven over Barack Obama’s presidency. But Turkish officials and policymakers seem concerned.
"NATO’s 60th anniversary summit in France and Germany in April, 2009 may well offer Europeans their first reality check on the 44th president," write Michael F. Harsch and Calin Trenkov-Wermuth in the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) feature on PostGlobal (via German Joys):
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently stated that he does not believe the Obama administration will make any unrealistic demands once it comes into office. Steinmeier is likely to be disappointed. The first item on Obama’s wish list will most likely be greater European burden-sharing in Afghanistan. The danger of a NATO failure in Afghanistan is real, and this issue will dominate the NATO summit’s agenda.
The choices made up to now by US President-elect Obama have provided sufficient hints about what his style of governing will be and what attitudes he might adopt with regards to existing problems.
Source: Josephson Institute, Center for Youth Ethics
From press release (PDF; 296 KB):
Josephson Institute’s 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, a report on the attitudes and conduct of 29,760 high school students, reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty in today’s young people — and that doesn’t bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation’s politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals.