Monday, December 6, 2010

WikiLeaks 3

The backward look behind the assurance
Of recorded history, the backward half-look
Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror

T. S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

"American concerns about a Middle East country other than Iran are revealed in WikiLeaks documents that point to a shift by Turkey, a long-time US ally, towards Islamic fundamentalism... According to WikiLeaks documents published on the website of Der Spiegel, American diplomats depicted the present Turkish leadership as divided and permeated by Islamists. Advisers to Mr Erdogan, one cable said, 'have little understanding of politics beyond Ankara'." (Cable reveals US fear of Turkey's leaders, Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian, 1/12/10)

Hang on! Let me get this right: an American diplomat - American, for God's sake! - reckons Erdogan's men don't have a clue about the world outside their Ankara bubble. The implication, of course, is that only Yankee Doodle Dandies (and their Israeli minders?) know what's really going on outside their Washington bubble. Pull the other.

"Mr Erdogan himself got his information almost exclusively from newspapers with close links to Islamists." (ibid)

You mean, as distinct from Bushama, who gets his almost exclusively from Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, which positively pullulates with Zioncon pundits like Bret Stephens (see WikiLeaks 2)?

"Particular concern was expressed about Mr Erdogan's Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who was described in one cable as 'exceptionally dangerous'. Mr Davatoglu is seen as wishing to restore the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire, which stretched across much of the Middle East and North Africa for four centuries before collapsing in World War I. According to another document, a Turkish official said, in apparent jest, that Turkey wanted 'to take back Andalusia (in modern Spain) and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683'." (ibid)

In apparent jest? Egads, lads! Was that viper really just joking?

Afraid so. Andalusia was never an Ottoman possession to begin with. In fact, Al-Andalus (711- 1492) predated the emergence of the Ottoman Turks by centuries. Moreover, the Ottomans hadn't even gotten around to knocking off the Byzantines until 1453.

As for the siege of Vienna, a little perspective, please.

Historian Andrew Wheatcroft concludes his excellent study, The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans & the Battle for Europe (2008), thus:

"During this long struggle between the Ottomans and Habsburgs something unusual happened, which has gone unremarked. For centuries they were the bitterest of enemies. Then they stopped being enemies, even becoming unlikely allies from 1914 to 1918. After that war, commercial ties continued to grow, and in the 1950s Turks began to arrive in Austria as guest workers, as they did in much larger numbers in West Germany. They were not well treated, but virtually no one regarded them as a threat. Now, the west is gripped by fear, and a fresh Battle for Europe promoted as a direct continuation of the old Battle for Europe.

"The contrast between what actually happened and these carefully fabricated myths is startling. Once more the Siege of Vienna in 1683 is becoming an inspirational metaphor of perpetual struggle, of West versus East, of Muslim vs Christian, just as it was hundreds of years ago. Once more the event is serving a polemical purpose. Now it buttresses the idea that a new Battle for Europe is being fought. The Turks of the 21st century must not be allowed to enter the European Union because this will destroy Christendom. They would succeed where their Ottoman predecessors had failed in 1683.

"Those holdings these views include very prominent men, among them a former Commissioner of the European Union, Franz Bolkestein, who said very publicly that if Turkey entered the EU, then 'the liberation* of Vienna in 1683 would have been in vain'. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XIV, also looked to history: 'The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents... the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical'.

"Against history? This is a very strong claim but Bolkestein and Pope Benedict XIV are not the only people who believe in this fable. The masthead of The Gates of Vienna blog puts it simply: 'At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war'. I have tried to present dispassionately what happened centuries ago. There was, in that time, unimaginable cruelty, savagery and implacable hatred among all the combatants. Yet in the 19th century the bitter attitudes that so suffused those struggles diminished, and a new kind of relationship developed, which I have also described. The older feelings and attitudes were (and are) still present but they were (and are) definitely in abeyance.
"Scouring the darker parts of the past, creating false memories for use as weapons, is a risky business. No one can say what will happen as a result. In the Balkan wars of the 1990s we witnessed many examples of a partial view of the past being invoked for political ends. Mythologised history became the excuse for savagery: ethnic cleansing is one of the most loathsome neologisms of the 20th century." (pp 266-267)

Thanks to WikiLeaks we now know that Yankee doodle diplomats possess neither a sense of humour nor a knowledge of history. Erdogan and Davutoglu must have pissed themselves

[*Err... the Pope may be infallible, but not his grasp of history: Vienna didn't fall in 1683, so how could it have been liberated?]

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