What Ankara Knows

By Ramzy Baroud

“Even despots, gangsters and pirates have specific sensitiveness, (and) follow some specific morals.”

The claim was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent speech, following the deadly commando raid on the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza on May 31. According to Erdogan, Israel doesn’t adhere to the code of conduct embraced even by the vilest of criminals.

The statement alone indicates the momentous political shift that’s currently underway in the Middle East. While the shift isn’t entirely new, one dares to claim it might now be a lasting one. To borrow from Erdogan’s own assessment of the political fallout that followed Israel’s raid, the damage is “irreparable.”

Countless analyses have emerged in the wake of the long-planned and calculated Israeli attack on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, which claimed the lives of nine, mostly Turkish peace activists.

In “Turkey’s Strategic U-Turn, Israel’s Tactical Mistakes,” published in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Ofra Bengio suggested Turkey’s position was purely strategic. But he also chastised Israel for driving Turkey further and faster “toward the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

In this week’s Zaman, a Turkish publication, Bulent Kenes wrote: “As a result of the Davos (where the Turkish prime minister stormed out of a televised discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres, after accusing him and Israel of murder), the myth that Israel is untouchable was destroyed by Erdogan, and because of that Israel nurses a hatred for Turkey.”

In fact, the Davos incident is significant not because it demonstrates that Israel can be criticized, but rather because it was Turkey — and not any other easily dismissible party — that dared to voice such criticism.

Writing in the Financial Times under the title, “Erdogan turns to face East in a delicate balancing act,” David Gardner places Turkey’s political turn within a European context. He sums up that thought in a quote uttered by no other than Robert Gates, US defense secretary: “If there is anything to the notion that Turkey is moving Eastward, it is in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought.” But what many analysts missed was the larger political and historical context, not only as pertaining to Israel and Turkey, but to the whole region and all its players, including the US itself. Only this context can help us understand the logic behind Israel’s seemingly erratic behavior.

In 1996, Israeli leaders appeared very confident. A group of neoconservative American politicians had laid out a road map for Israel to ensure complete dominance over the Middle East. In the document entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” Turkey was mentioned four times. Each reference envisaged the country as a tool to “contain, destabilize, and roll back some of .. (the) most dangerous threats” to Israel. That very “vision” in fact served as the backbone of the larger strategy used by the US, as it carried out its heedless military adventures in the Middle East.

Frustrated by the American failure to reshape the region and unquestioningly eliminate anything and everything that Israel might perceive as a threat, Israel took matters into its own hands. However, in 2006 and between 2008 and 2009, it was up for major surprises. Superior firepower doesn’t guarantee military victory. More, while Israel had once more demonstrated its capacity to inflict untold damage on people and infrastructure, the Israeli weapon was no longer strategically effective. In other words, Israel’s military advantage could no longer translate into political gains, and this was a game-changer.

There are many issues the Israeli leadership has had to wrangle with in recent years. The US, Israel’s most faithful benefactor, is now on a crisis management mode in Iraq and Afghanistan, struggling on all fronts, whether political, military or economic. That recoil has further emboldened Israel’s enemies, who are no longer intimidated by the American bogyman. Israel’s desperate attempt at using its own military to achieve its grand objectives has also failed, and miserably so.
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Muslim demographic revolution & Western failure

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Dr Terry Lacey

In 1950 the population of the six BENPIT countries (Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia and Turkey) was 242 millions, rising to 886 million by 2009 and an estimated 1,361 million by 2050.

These and associated demographic trends render current Western strategy towards the Muslim world obsolete. Between 2010 and 2050 the population growth of the six BENPIT countries will be 475 million, while the population growth of the six most populated developed countries together will total 44 million. Worldwide 28 out of the 48 fastest growing countries in terms of population are majority Muslim, or with Muslim minorities comprising more than 33 percent of the population. For example the population of Afghanistan is now 28 million, rising to 45 million by 2025 and 75 million by 2050. Professor Jack A Goldstone writing in the journal Foreign Affairs (February 2010) on “The New Population Bomb” concludes that the West has to improve its relations with the Muslim world, that Turkey with a population of 100 million by 2050 must join the EU, and that the Muslim population of major EU countries now varies from 3 to 10 percent, and will double by 2050. These figures have major implications for the foreign and military policies of the West and for immigration into Western countries, with younger migrants needed to help sustain economies and social provision for aging populations.

The populations of the EU, US, Canada, Japan, South Korea and China are aging at an unprecedented rate. By 2050, 30 percent of all Americans, Europeans, Canadians and Chinese will be over 60. For example in South Korea the workforce will be about the same size as the people over 60 by 2050, and one third of the population must support the other two thirds. By contrast populations of Muslim countries and Muslim populations within industrialized countries have a quite different age structure with many more younger people and higher population growth, whereas the total population of some Western countries will be in net decline without more immigration. Read more of this post

Americans, beware of economic doom!

The statistics are hair-raising. The national debt of United States currently stands at $ 12 trillion which if divided on a population of 300 million comes roughly to $40,000 for every man, woman and child in America. The budget deficit for the year 2009 is estimated to be an all time high at $1042 billion. The cost for both Iraq and Afghanistan war in 2010 would be around $ 1046 billion. In 2014 America’s debt-to GDP ratio would reach 108 percent. By 2019 payments on the federal debt would rise to $799 billion.

China and Japan are the two biggest creditors of United States, thus far holding 798 billion and 751 billion worth of U.S. Treasury securities. The trade deficit that was zero in 1991 soared to 763 billion in 2006. If this trade deficit is not checked, by 2030 it will rise to 15 percent of the GDP or $ 5 trillion annually. By November 2009 the mortgages of 16 million Americans were upside down. So far 100 banks have close their business, 416 are at risk of bankruptcies. By 2013, the projected losses on account of bounced real estate loans will be 600 billion. The acute economic downslide places the United States in a risky situation of losing reserve currency status of dollar as well as its superpower status.

There is growing loud thinking that the United States has already lost its superpower status. It is being feared that America’s economy that is in extreme dire straits, would impinge on its superpower status. Besides, its leadership in the field of science and technology would be prodigiously hampered due to the paucity of funds. It is surmised that the China and Japan will outpace United States in the scientific research. There is also a very potent apprehension that since United States would need more credits from Japan and China; these countries could also influence America’s foreign policy and her conduct of external affairs.

The European Union, a conglomeration of 27 countries is emerging as a strong economic contender or rival of the United States. EU’s common currency Euro is 1.5 times stronger than the US dollar. It means one has to pay 1.5 dollar to buy one Euro. EU is world’s single largest market with a population of 500 million individuals. United States war bill will astronomically soar if it decides to expand its war on terrorism to Yemen and those pockets where the terrorists are resettling. A military action against Iran preceded by clamping of sanctions and embargoes on that country would not be a one sided affair. Like the Somali pirates a similar kind f blockade can be mounted by Iran in the Strait of Harmus which might lead a calamitous conflagration in the area between the United States and west on one side and Iran on the other. Bu the paramount question is that in the face of a crumbling economy and much dependence on foreign loans, would this be a rational or the prudent course to adopt? Will not the armed standoff, if not the actual engagement, spell further disaster for the American economy? Read more of this post

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