IAHIN – ErdoIan and Huntington

ErdoIan and HuntingtonIn the early 1990s, the late, well-known political scientist Samuel P Huntington aanced the thesis that after the end of the Cold War ideological conflict between liberal democracy and communism would be replaced by a clash of civilizations based on religion, mainly between the West and Islam He further argued that Turkey was andldquotornandrdquo between the two and might eventually leave the NATO alliance. In a talk he gave in Istanbul in 1996, he claimed that Turkey could become the leader of the Muslim world, which greatly suffered from a lack of leadership.

In my interview with Huntington during that visit, he added that Turkey could be andldquoa great model for the Islamic worldandrdquo if it could andldquoshow that modernization and democracy is possible in a Muslim country.andrdquoSince his third term in power, President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan has engaged in a discourse about andldquoour Muslim civilization,andrdquo giving the impression that he increasingly embraces a Huntingtonian approach to world affairs.

This is a bit surprising because in 2003, his first year in power, he declared, andldquoTurkey will prove that Huntingtonand#39s vision of a andlsquoclash of civilizationsand#39 is unfounded and that harmony of civilizations is possible.andrdquo In 2005 he co-led the United Nationsand#39 andldquoAlliance of Civilizationsandrdquo initiative with then-Prime Minister of Spain Rodriguez Zapatero.

The current government of Spain recently decided to drop that initiative.ErdoIan has recently been building up a rhetoric which extols andldquoour Islamic civilization,andrdquo while being increasingly critical of the West.

Addressing the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul last November, he famously said, andldquoI speak openly foreigners love oil, gold, diamonds and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world. They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East.

Believe me, they donand#39t like us. They look like friends, but they want us dead, they like seeing our children die.

andrdquo Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in January, he said: andldquoDespite all our initiatives to prevent it, there are efforts being made to prove the andlsquoclash of civilizationsand#39 thesis right. I am afraid a kind of clash of civilizations is being provoked.

andrdquoIf ErdoIan is truly embracing a Huntingtonian paradigm, there are questions that need to be posed, first about the validity of that paradigm It is increasingly clear that in the real world today, clashes take place not between (Huntingtonian)ivilizations but within them, and particularly within the Islamic one. While simultaneously, if indirectly, lending a hand to Islamic terrorist organizations in Syria, hoping they will topple the dictatorship, ErdoIanand#39s government attacks the faithandndashbased Hizmet movement at home, a staunch aocate of peace and democracy, on totally fabricated claims.

Today the real confrontation everywhere is between those who defend human rights and universal values and those who oppose themAnother question that needs be posed is whether ErdoIan sincerely embraces the Huntingtonian paradigm or not. He claims that the members of the civilization he belongs to are always true to their word in deed.

If that is the case, why doesnand#39t ErdoIan take immediate measures to move Turkey out of NATO, the defense alliance of the West, instead of asking NATO to defend the country? Why doesnand#39t he withdraw the membership application from the European Union instead of pretending to pursue accession? Why doesnand#39t he quit Turkeyand#39s membership in the Council of Europe? Why doesnand#39t he withdraw Turkeyand#39s signature from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)? Why doesnand#39t he reject the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)? The answer to all of these questions is clear ErdoIan uses the andldquocivilizationsandrdquo rhetoric only to exploit antiandndashWestern sentiments among the electorate in the hopes of preserving political power and establishing a andldquoTurkish-style presidencyandrdquo that would certainly move the country in the opposite direction of that which Huntington aised.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman