Monday, March 29, 2010

Netanyahu in the Roosevelt Room

    Friday, March 26, 2010
United States President Barack Obama, following the successful passage of a health care plan in the House of Representatives, suddenly started to look like a grand strategist who knows-it-all and plays a “long-term” strategic game. And it is true that nobody can and should underestimate his historic overhaul of the health sector that no other U.S. president has been able to accomplish.
The health care reform was the top priority agenda in domestic affairs, and Obama handled it triumphantly at the end. Now, one wonders if the president will turn to his top foreign agenda in foreign affairs; namely the Israel-Palestine peace process.
Foreign Policy, or FP, a magazine founded by Samuel P. Huntington, and published by the Washington Post, one of the most read foreign affairs magazines, has become unusually warm and embracing towards Obama's Israel-Palestine policy lately.
FP ran a story just last Monday, a day after the health care vote at the House, by Marc Lynch that argued how the successful passage of the reform could mean that Obama might have a Middle East strategy, after all. According the author, so far it is "Obama's method to lay out an ambitious but realistic final status objective in stark terms and then to let political hardball unfold around those objectives."
As we have seen during the health care debate, once the ambitious goal, which is to overhaul the health care sector was set, his radical opponents got more filled with ire by "raising the rhetorical pitch until they discredit themselves [recoiling] from their overheated, apocalyptic and nutty words. And then, just as the Washington D.C. conventional wisdom declares his ambition dead, they suddenly wake up to the reality that he's won."
Would there be another similar Obama game plan ongoing or even unfolding for the Israeli-Palestine conflict? Did Obama also set an aspiring and unlikely objective at the first sight, like a full settlement freeze for the Israeli administration?
Following this ambitious goal, Obama's radical opponents, in this scenario, the Benjamin Netanyahu government with all of its hard-core, right-wing forces in the coalition, revealed themselves along with their sharp and unwarranted statements to reach a point that they started to lose their own reputations. The latest episode of announcing the new housing permits during the close friend of Israel, Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Jerusalem, was one of those rare moments for the Israeli administration to discredit their posture in the ongoing dispute.
Netanyahu went on with this unbending posture and took the stage Monday night at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, policy conference, just a few blocks from where Obama resides. His statements in that speech chilled the Washington political theater once more. He said: "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It's our capital."
Such a stern statement, which runs exactly opposite to the direction of the Obama administration's, was made only a day before Netanyahu went to visit Obama. Netanyahu was exposing "daylight between Israel and the United States" forcefully and plainly, while the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said such daylight let "others seek to exploit" at the same conference earlier in the day.
It could have been safely argued that the divergence between the two sides cannot be more “day-lit” than Netanyahu's AIPAC/Washington speech, only if one did not witness how the White House handled the meetings with Netanyahu a day after. As widely reported since then, Netanyahu had received "the treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea" at the White House with no photo-ops or a kind of joint statement.
Going back to the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Tuesday evening, according to the accounts, when the first meeting between Obama and Netanyahu ended, Obama told Netanyahu that he could stay at the White House with his staff to consider his proposals, so that if he changed his mind he could inform the president right away. “I’m still around,” the Yediot Ahronot daily quoted Mr. Obama saying. “Let me know if there is anything new.”
Repeated questions to Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, on Wednesday afternoon on the substance of these meetings and why Netanyahu was met with such a cold-shouldered presentation, Gibbs said, "No, look, they spoke for over two hours last night, face to face, so I think we have a strong relationship with a strong ally. There are areas that they discussed last night, some of which they agree on and some of which they disagree on."
According to Gibbs, in the same conference at the White House, the first meeting on Tuesday evening between the two leaders took about one and half hours and concluded at 7 p.m.
"Then ... Prime Minister Netanyahu remained in the White House and consulted with his staff in the Roosevelt Room and then requested to see the President again, and they returned to the Oval Office at about 8:20 p.m.," he said.
One wonders what was going through Netanyahu's mind in those minutes at the Roosevelt Room while he was reviewing the meeting, which Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper called "disgraced and isolated" while others call "humiliated, after being dumped for dinner."
The Times Online explains well in its March 25 report what Netanyahu's calculation was before his visit to Washington: "[Netanyahu] had calculated that [Obama] would be too tied up with domestic issues ahead of the mid-term elections to focus seriously on the Middle East." Instead, the health care bill that was passed only Sunday had suddenly freed up Obama's hands and boosted his image as stronger than ever while meeting with Netanyahu.
Robert Wright, a journalist who writes regularly for the New York Times' online blog, predicted the following scenarios after Netanyahu's visit to Obama: "[As] more and more people are realizing, the only long-run alternatives to a two-state solution are: a) a one-state solution in which an Arab majority spells the end of Israel’s Jewish identity; b) Israel’s remaining a Jewish state by denying the vote to Palestinians who live in the occupied territories, a condition that would be increasingly reminiscent of apartheid; c) the apocalypse."
One can only speculate what was the conversation between him and his staff at the Roosevelt Room. I will take a wild guess and say, Netanyahu during those moments was realizing how serious the crack was between his country and the U.S. Netanyahu might have also underestimated Obama's possible “long-term” strategy, as the GOP underestimated him in the health care battle.
Prime Minister Netanyahu must, and should not be an apocalyptic messenger for his nation, nor work toward dimming the two-state prospect.
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Guest - A Turk in NY
2010-03-28 20:24:39
 It's the hardliners on both sides that don't want want peace. Weather it be the Israeli religious fanatics or Muslim extremists that are bent on destroying Israel. They both have to much to lose if there was peace. Having said that, USA can fix what they broke. USA is holding the cards and they could play it anyway that they want. It's a different world today than past American administrations. This administration has already shown that they can be tough on Israel. Although this could be a show for the world, I think it is still encouraging. Nothing ever stays the same, something will eventually give. And we actually may witness a shift in American policy that may (underline may) result in peace prevailing. 
Guest - A Turk in NY
2010-03-28 20:02:36
 @Guest- Ignoring the world is easier said than done with a global economy. Consider that USA embassies throughout the world is growing and expanding everyday. The corporations in the USA would not have it any other way as it pushes globalization to sell their products, whether it be iphones or weapons. Funny how you mention that the health care is "stupid", but at the same time you say that "USA should ignore the world and then and focus on fixing America"; Isn't that a contradiction? What an ignorant comment. Maybe you don't realize that USA is an empire which feeds off the world. If it didn't you would not be an empire and you thus would be no better off than Mexico. 
Guest - guest
2010-03-28 16:55:05
 considering how stupid this healthcare reform is, how bad will obamas policy be in the middle east?. lets get serious, there is never going to be peace in the region.there never has been. muslims killing jews, jews killing muslims, muslims killing muslims. obama needs to focus on fixing america and ignore the world 
Guest - hukumdar
2010-03-28 09:55:59
 Obama will bow to the establishment at the end.. jewish lobbies in washington, including congress are just too big to ignore.. this doesnt look like health care. obama will step back at the end! write this somewhere! 
Guest - donha
2010-03-27 21:05:23
 Get serious! Israel and the USA are inseparable. The USA will never trade Israel for the Palestinians, any Arab or Muslim state nor for Turkey no matter what the cost. There may be troubles and discord between the two at the moment but that won’t last. 
Guest - Murat
2010-03-27 17:34:54
 There is nothing more important strategically for USA than the fullfilment of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and nothing less important than the mythical and non-existant startegic relationship with Israel. As Pentagon put it bluntly, Israel policies are a huge liability to USA and costs American lives everyday. 
Guest - brannen
2010-03-27 04:20:35
 Netanyahu is a apoalyptic messenger and end of the middle east and the world is very near!! Sorry to inform you all by this way...

Another concentrated Sunday of Washington political theater

Sundays are usually to relax and take it easy for the majority of people. It is a day for one to dedicate oneself to family or friends.
However, many times the same Sunday becomes quite a thrilling experience, if one is closely linked to the main political theater of the United States and its center stage, Washington.
Last Sunday was no different than the type of Sunday that I just described. After a year of discussions and sharp fights on the health care bill, the time for voting for the ultimate passage finally arrived. The historic $940 billion Senate bill was passed very late Sunday by a seven vote margin, 219 to 212.
The success made the White House suddenly the winner of the year by demonstrating some tangible success to its supporters. The Democratic fans of the bill have been comparing the successful passage similar to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security in the past.
Now it is time for the Senate to vote on a separate package of fixes, known as a reconciliation bill, which is to be taken up later this week. However, after the successful passage at the House, the result of the passage will put enormous pressure on the Senate to act on it.
On the same Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also flying into Washington, mainly to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs, or AIPAC's, yearly policy conference. However, the visit especially attracted much attention because of the latest rift between the U.S. and Israel administrations, and whether Netanyahu's presence and meetings in the capital would help to ease the jittery relationship.
I participated in the AIPAC's annual conference and observed first hand how tense are the thousands of supporters and dozens of panelists of the strong, right-wing AIPAC.
Many attendees that I talked to during the conference did not see any reason to hide their irritation with the Barack Obama administration, for "it does not do enough to watch over its one and only true friend in the region."
The panelists also constantly blamed the current White House team, by rarely stating openly, but mostly implying politely how little love the White House has shown in recent times for its strongest ally in the Middle East. The panelists were very delicate while criticizing the administration, knowing that many of the participants of the conference are supporters of the Democratic Party, therefore its president at the same time.
Very few administration officials have shown up at the conference so far, and this lack of interest is also proving once more that the most powerful Jewish lobby is far from receiving the kind of attention it used to from previous administrations.
Just before leaving for Washington, Netanyahu once again rejected the idea of the full or even partial freeze of east Jerusalem settlements. The U.S. administration, on the other hand, has wedded itself with the idea of this total freeze, and it could lose much credibility if it has to step back once more, like it did during last summer meetings, before the United Nations Summit in New York.
Israel so far has been disappointed by how the U.S. has been dealing with Iran as well. So far, the White House has neither been able to put together an international coalition to bring meaningful and “crippling” sanctions, nor has it given any kind of support for the military actions on Iranian nuclear capability. In addition, the highest ranking members of the U.S. military have recently voiced their deep concerns over the "special" relationship between the U.S. and Israel, for it endangers American lives throughout the region.
America's relationships with Turkey are also going through a rough patch. Over the weekend, the American-Turkish Council, or ATC, postponed its annual conference which has been held regularly for the last several decades. The ATC openly stated that the reason of the cancellation was the approval of the resolution "by a one-vote margin, a non-binding resolution directing the president to recognize the Armenian ‘genocide.’”
The U.S. administration does not lose sleep over the angry reactions it has been receiving from the Turkish administration. According to a Washington source, who is closely involved with the U.S. administration, "the U.S. Administration is really and still angry this time with the Turks," because they feel they have been cheated by Turkey because it has not moved forward with ratifying the protocols.
I asked this question to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last week at the White House Press Conference, and reminded him that Turkish Ambassador to Washington Mr. Namık Tan is still absent from Washington. I asked Gibbs whether this occurrence is a matter of concern for the U.S. administration and if his administration is considering taking any expressive steps to assure the Turkish administration.
Gibbs was not ready for such a question and was not able to give me any articulate answer over what the U.S. administration has been thinking over the matter. Accordingly, Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs, during a speech last week at the Brookings Institute, a Washington think tank, was very relaxed while stating that the U.S. administration wishes to see the Turkish ambassador back in Washington, and emphasized the independence of the legislation body, so implying that the White House might not be able to do much to prevent the bill, if it comes to it.
Many use Sundays to loosen up and try to forget about the stressful week that is looming ahead. Many Sundays of the Washington political theater, instead, offer just a concentrated and intensive package of what the looming week is about to bring.
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Guest - guest
2010-03-23 20:07:17
 let not forget this weekend there were the protests againist the war and for immigration reform. the american dream is dead. time for another civil war 
Guest - arianna
2010-03-23 18:11:50
 He passed the bill and it all matters.. now it is time to change other problematic areas as well... right on! 
Guest - wolf
2010-03-23 15:55:59
 We have to put the Armenian issue in to some kind of perspctive. Unlike crucial matters such as the health care reform, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, the Armians issue is not at all considered being a key topic discussed in US. Try to see it from US perspective. How much would you care about a historic event which is 100 years old, conducted very far from home, by a country which is fairly stable and which does not raise Islamic terrorists, and with a GDP which is 5% of that of USA? We have to realize that Turkey is not a high priority area for USA simply because 1) we are fairly stable and 2) we are not a key player in terms of economy. US has more important problems to deal with when it comes to its foreign countries.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What will Netanyahu bring to Washington?
   Friday, March 19, 2010
  Israel takes a big portion of the Washington foreign policy discussions, as its "condemned" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive in the capital for the annual American-Israel Public Committee, or AIPAC, policy conference this week.

I talked to some experts this week over the current, tense relationships and some of the new developments between the Unite States and Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be speaking at the AIPAC conference Monday morning, and it will be interesting to see how she will be received by the powerful and also angry Jewish audience. However, according to the AP report that came out late Thursday, after almost a week the two had a tense conversation over the phone, Netanyahu finally called Clinton, and they decided to meet face to face early this week.

Last week, a report was published in the Foreign Policy Affairs Magazine by Mark Perry, about the growing worry on the part of U.S. high military officials on the continuing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

According to the same report, U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, commander General David Petraeus sent a team of senior military officers in January to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Perry reports that the briefers told Mullen that “Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing the U.S. standing in the region.”

The report was very revealing and made some waves in Washington throughout the stressful week that went on between the two “unshakable” friends, in which several high U.S. officials made harsh denouncements condemning the Israeli administration, finding Netanyahu is the real responsible party for the occurrence.

Clinton especially went on CNN to explain how she grilled the Israeli prime minister and viewed the announcement of the housing while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel as "insulting."
According to Perry's report, which Petraeus accepted such discussions took place during a hearing last Wednesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee, there were talks that were conducted among members of the military leadership on whether the Palestine and Israeli territories were to be added to the CENTCOM commanding territories, which already contains twenty-two Arab nations.

I had a chance to see and have a conversation with Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and current vice president for foreign policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington on the same day that Petraeus briefed the Senate Committee.
I asked him first whether there was any possibility for Palestinian and Israeli territories to be annexed to the CENTCOM.

Indyk, who has been one of most popular experts in Washington over the issue lately, said, "It is a dead proposal at the beginning. Such a change would open Pandora’s box because of the many problems that would bring along with it, such as the issues between European Command structure against CENTCOM."

He said he saw such occurrence is "very unlikely."

When asked whether the tension between the U.S. and Israel could be reduced in the coming week when Netanyahu arrives, Indyk said, "We have to wait and see, we are still in the eye of the storm. The next step is for the U.S. administration to hear what the Netanyahu government will bring to the table. It is important to keep an eye on the situation in Jerusalem, and what will happen there as well, as the peace negotiations will take off."

According to Indyk, the Netanyahu government has to make some clarifications first over the housing policy. "The last thing the U.S. would want to do is to start negotiations and then have some housing committee release new permits."

I had a phone interview with Daniel Levy, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation, and former peace negotiator on behalf of the Israeli government in the past.

I asked him how he views the U.S. military officials' growing worries over the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Levy said it was astonishing to listen to Petraues at that hearing and that some of his remarks were quiet remarkable.

Petraeus said during the Senate hearing for example, "The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism [for] Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples.”

The highest U.S. military official in the region was openly arguing that the U.S.'s special relationship with Israel actually jeopardized U.S. lives in that region.

Levy said, “This is not the first time that the U.S. military officials take issue with the US-Israeli relationships, however. The difference today is that they are so intrigued by the nuclear standoff that is going with Iran and they, now, spend more time understanding problems in the regions than before. They travel to the region quiet often, and see how much the Israeli invasion in Gaza and the Palestinian territories are damaging the U.S. interests anger the Muslim public."
Levy said he still expects the tension will be ratcheted down this week when Netanyahu arrives in Washington and also said he does not expect Netanyahu to cancel the settlements in Jerusalem, meaning the U.S. administration will end up backing down, once more.

According to Kamran Bokhari, regional director on Middle East and South Asia at the Stratfor Global Intelligence Company, "Netanyahu is in a very difficult position now while arriving in Washington. Netanyahu, on the one hand, is trying to be pragmatic and maintain the strong relationship with the U.S. administration; on the other, he also has to placate his own right-wing coalition group."
Bokhari predicted on a phone interview that Netanyahu would use this upcoming Washington trip to ease the jittery relationships between the two allies, however it will be also important to watch "how he will be received by the US administration."

Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the legislative affairs at B'nai B'rith, the oldest operating Jewish service organization and with nearly 100,000 members, said, "The two sides have to focus on the Iranian nuclear issue, instead of being distracted by the latest policy differences, which can occur even between the strongest allies like the US and Israel."
According to Fusfield, "The negotiations should go on regardless of the settlement policy of the Israeli government.”

The biggest obstacle in the face of the peace negotiations is terrorism, he said.

The AIPAC policy conference, which will be undoubtedly one of the most anticipated one in recent history because of the current relationship between the U.S. and Israel, will start on Sunday morning. The majority of the experts whom I met this week predicted that the conference would work to smooth the jittery relations for the time being. And I will take a part this 3-day conference to see whether their foresight will be proved right.

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Guest - desmond
2010-03-22 10:27:15
israil should have the right to defend themselves against any country that wishes to harm them, it seems to me these palistinians want the prime land for nothing and houses on it to .

Guest - george
2010-03-22 03:33:46
According to US best selling authors John Mearsheirmer and Stephen Walt's book "The Israel Lobby" Israel is of no strategic importance to the US as there is no oil or natural gas there. Israel receives annually $3 billion US dollars much of it used to build settlements. AIPAC is the most powerful Jewish lobby group that can make or break US Presidential cadidates or senators based upon their commitment to Israel. US Jews comprise less than 2% of the Americam population. Unless the US stops the annual funding a Palestinian nation will never be born.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

If the West really wants to help Turkey improve its democracy...

Last week, the U.S. State Department released its “2009 Annual Report on Human Rights” and, like many other countries, it allocated considerable space to discussing cases of human-rights abuse in Turkey.
The picture is grim for Turkey, as always, even though it has made sweeping reforms in many areas to increase its prospects for full membership in the European Union.
Turkey, without a doubt, has changed substantially since the 1990s. That was a tough decade for Turkey as it sought to find its new identity and adapt itself to the “new world order” led by the only remaining superpower, the United States. Turkey was not only trying to figure out how it should define its new, unique role in light of changing international dynamics, it was also going through a very difficult period filled with economic, social and political battles. The endless coalition governments and fights, abrupt elections, skyrocketing inflation, numerous devaluations and one post-modern military coup in 1997 were just a snapshot of this decade.
Friction, a feature of relations between the Turkish state and the Kurdish segment of the country since the founding of the Turkish Republic, was also on the rise during this decade. The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a separatist armed Kurdish group, escalated its attacks, especially in the southeast region of Turkey, where the majority of the Kurdish population lives. Hundreds of unknown murders occurred, especially during the mid-1990s, mostly targeting the Kurdish businessmen who were suspected of helping the PKK.
Turkey’s political instability reflected badly on its social structure. With Turkey increasingly relying on its military establishment as the only stable force, the Turkish military increased its martial operations, budget and sway in the country. Enjoying its height in terms of popularity, the Turkish military pushed the pro-Islamic Welfare Party, or RP, out of government in 1997, hoping it would in this way stop the ongoing debate about the nature of the secular system and its uneasy coexistence with growing religiosity.
The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, emerged as a political force at the beginning of the 2000s. Under the leadership of the charismatic Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and several other senior conservative political figures who had also risen from the ranks of the banned pro-Islamic parties, the AKP was welcomed by voters as a viable governing alternative.
Fast forward to the present day: Turkey’s high-spirited recent international diplomacy has been hailed by the Obama administration in the U.S. as a potential diplomatic partner throughout the Middle East and Islamic world. Turkey also wholeheartedly, and sincerely, believed that Obama could unclench the fists of those rogue regimes, including Iran, and bring much-needed stability to the region following the Bush administration, a period that put Turkey in a difficult quandary, because of the “with us or against us” rhetoric.
Turkey’s new proactive foreign policies, which heavily emphasize links with the Arab and Muslim worlds, sparked discussions in many Western capitals about the country’s direction and whether it is drifting away from the West and turning its face to the East, or the Muslim world. According to this school of thought, the AKP is a party of religious deception that has an ultimate goal of undermining secularism, linking Turkey to the Muslim world and imposing Islamic law.
The tension between the religious/conservative forces and secular forces continues to this day. Recent allegations over the “deep state” have created sharp divisions among the Turkish public. Investigations have focused on the alleged Ergenekon terror organization, a shadowy gang that is accused of aiming to overthrow the AKP government and staging a military coup by spreading chaos through bombings and attacks across Turkey. But as these investigations went on, with still no end in sight, questions about the fairness of the trials accordingly started to rise.
While the AKP’s reformist agenda undoubtedly made Turkey freer and more compatible with Western democracies in terms of written rules and regulations, the same administration’s authoritative tendencies have become more visible in recent years.
The U.S. State Department’s 2009 human-rights report, released March 11, is proof of these authoritarian tendencies in the AKP administration. “In November [of 2009], the Justice Ministry confirmed allegations that 56 judges’ and prosecutors’ telephones had been tapped as part of the Ergenekon investigation,” the report’s authors wrote. “Some observers reported that many of the judges and prosecutors whose telephones had been tapped were noted for their anti-[AKP] decisions...”
One of the most important watchdogs in Turkey, the Turkish press, has been increasingly under the threat of the AKP administration. During 2009, the same report says: “The Ministry of Finance levied a total of 5.9 billion Turkish Liras (approximately $3.9 billion) in tax fines against the Doğan Media Group... These fines nearly equaled the total value of the company’s assets... fines undermine the economic viability of the group and therefore affect the freedom of the press in practice.”
Prime Minister Erdoğan continuously sues cartoonists and advises media bosses to fire those columnists who “write irresponsibly,” as he said as recently as March.
Civil societies and nongovernmental organizations are not strong enough to impact the public opinion in Turkey. Think tanks in Turkey are also relatively very young, and are far from being independent. The frictions within the judiciary are visible, and growing conservatism, which is encouraged by the ruling administration, has created what is called “neighborhood pressure” to push public servants to appear more pious in order to be promoted, according to many accounts.
While the AKP administration has passed reforms to curb military influence, there seems to be another danger of “authoritarian” rule, with the Turkish prime minister having solid powers in the absence of appropriate and durable checks and balances. With the current one-party hegemony, along with narrow-minded and weak opposition parties, observers assert that “corruption and influence peddling are the inevitable consequences of today’s Turkey.”
What is left for us is to work for the improvement of civil societies in Turkey, forces that will stand up for a free society and a well-oiled democratic machine. If the West truly wants Turkey to improve its democracy and not get trapped in another authoritarian threat, it must do everything it can to improve those institutions. Maybe this mission can be the last and best option to help Turkey catch up with its Western peers, instead of publishing annual condemnations of human-rights abuses, which seem to be cropping up under one authoritarian regime or another anyway.
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Guest - geoff
2010-03-16 22:40:00
 please ,please, i have heard enough of the complaining ,if turkey wants to progress it must develop a true democracy where there is freedom of speech,thought and expression.say what you feel and feel what you want without any threat of prosecution under draconian laws 
Guest - kedikolu
2010-03-16 22:10:07
 How is it possible for Turkey to have independent and strong civil organizations while there is one party hegemony in the country? everybody has to check with erdogan and get his approval to make a move.. if they wont bow to erdogan, they cant get the funding, no funding no staff, no staff no .... 
Guest - dr p
2010-03-16 18:33:58
 @viggo: well said, but i hope you don't mean armed intervention in every atrocity. there has to be some guiding philosophy as to when to intervene, and to what extent, but such lies beyond me. we (the usa) can't be the world's policeman - a task at which we've failed miserably anyway. should countries bordering the incident intervene, and what if they don't? of what ustility are sanctions? i don't know where to begin, let alone, where to end such involvement. 
Guest - Viggo
2010-03-16 17:38:43
 Firstly, we should recognize that the report is not aiming at Turkey. It deals with human rights violation and one part of it happens to deal with Turkey. But in a more general sense, I think that man kind has a general responsibility for helping other people suffering under violations of human rights, even if such violations happen to take place in another country. I can not really understand the logic by some people below, suggesting that when people are suffering, others should not do anything but just turn a blind eye? Is that the way you are acting in person as well, if you hear for example your neighbour beating his wife, see a rape in the street, someone beating his dog really bad. Do you then just walk away and say "not my problem". I think mankind has a common responsibility to reduce suffering, and then you can have your "nationalistic ideas" ("we area so strong and independent we dont need any help" type of attitude) as much as you want. To watch people suffering, regardless of religion and nationality without helping them is wrong! 
Guest - dr p
2010-03-16 16:14:28
 i agree with those who have posted that the west should help turkey by not helping and allowing the people to decide internal matters. however, should the west give carte blanche to any nation which tramples human rights? there has to be some accountability with real consequences for bad behaviour. any alternatives? 
Guest - David. S
2010-03-16 15:43:38
 Perhaps if these abuses were admitted to and dealt with in a clear and transparent manner, there would be fewer human-rights condemnations. Don't shoot the messenger. 
Guest - Nihilo
2010-03-16 13:55:06
 I strongly believe that every government wants democracy for its interests... 
Guest - Murat
2010-03-16 13:21:28
 As Psycho alluded to, Turkish democracy's biggest problem has been its least democratic institutions: Political parties. Cemaats are nothing but a different form of it. People tend to ignore the fact that meddling of the military was mostly an effect not the cause. The irony is that TSK is light years ahead of our political parties in terms of institutional democracy and transparency. Until people wrest control of the country from the politicial party sultanates, the quality of the democracy will not imporve, it may even get worse because the last brake of the regime is also being dismantled. 
Guest - sam
2010-03-16 12:41:38
 if the west wishes to help Turkey ... then DO NOTHING + do not interfere !!! weather Turkey needs a civil war as per France or US or weather she needs a war as per Germany ... Turkey NEEDS TO FIND HER OWN WAY without any political guidance (especially from countries that wishes to restore democracy all over the world ... what the heck, if they are not with us there may as well be dead type attitude) 
Guest - Levent
2010-03-16 12:32:41
 What a load of ..... Why would we want anything from anyone? If we are to want anything, to quote Diogenes; "Cease to shade me from the sun.". Or to put it more simply, keep your nose out! 
Guest - vural korkmaz
2010-03-16 12:07:38
 The author, Ilhan Tanir, says: "If the West truly wants Turkey to improve its democracy, ... it must do everything it can to improve those institutions." Nobody can improve democracy in a nation other than the people itself. Because, democracy is an admisnistation by the people, for the people, of the people. Democracy cannot be imposed on anybody. I would say this: "If the West truly wants Turkey to improve its democracy, it must help Turkiye to educate its people to gain skills and knowledge which would help Turkish Nation to establish democratic institutions and fight for their civil rights in domocratic, legal and peaceful ways." So far what Turkiye has been seen from West is harboring terrorists (PKK and others) in the name of civil rights, supporting fabricated claims and lies by Armeian terrorist organizations against Turkish Nation, etc. 
Guest - Katie
2010-03-16 10:54:39
 I fundamentally disagree that the West should help Turkey in such a way. Turkey & the Turkish people should sort out their own problems. We have seen repeatedly the resentment toward the West whenever they try to help, the only thanks they get is shouts of interference & US poodle ! People power is the way to get changes, do not cower to the bullying of egomaniacs. 
Guest - LeePsycho
2010-03-16 10:03:19
 I think you have the solution skewed a bit. If you want to move this conversation to where the solution lies, you have to remove the Political Party altogether. While a political party can help people run for office through campaign contributions and name recognition etc... The Group Psychology of the Party removes the representative nature of democracy. within that blog is a segment of George Washington's Farewell Address wherein he warns about the allowance of Political Party in Democratic Government. I have to tell you I see all those warnings comming to fruition both in Turkey and the US alsong with many other 'democratic' countries. 
Guest - viggo
2010-03-16 09:25:58
 The first and most important part must be to present the truth, to bring out all the dirt in the light. The author some how manages to make it, as is often the case, that it is the messangers fault and imply that he/she should be silenced. But I would say that, the mort important factor for improvements is a free media and a free flow of information. If we can not even recognize that there is a problem, then how can you fix it. 
Guest - janissary
2010-03-16 05:28:07
 i kindly disagree, sir. i can think of a very powerful civil society organization, with newspapers and tv channels, that has a strong role as an opinion maker in turkey. it's the cemaat. and guess what, that is just fine with all standards of western democracy. they do support the akp, but pray tell, which civil society organization does not have a political opinion? they all do, and they all can potentially support any given party. strengthening the civil society in turkey will also mean more freedom of organization for the cemaats. after all, they have been the backbone of the ottoman society for centuries. are you ready to live with that?