Ali Halit Aslan
Civilians and innocent people are the most vulnerable victims of wars. A total of 298 innocent people were killed in a missile attack on a Malaysian aircraft in its route over Ukrainian airspace. Likewise, most of the victims in the Israeli attacks on Gaza are civilians.
We were hoping that Turkey would become an island of peace and serenity in this geography of hatred. We have made enormous progress in this matter until very recently. However, campaigns of hatred the prime minister has launched to cover up corruption allegations killed these dreams. And innocent people are hurt most in this dirty struggle for power, where almost all democratic and humane values have been undermined and exploited.
Those who steer the state apparatus, having transformed it into a tool of hate, are so blind that they are unable to appreciate their lack of credibility and prestige because of the injustices committed against their people. By way of example, Prime Minister Erdoğan, addressing foreign missions at a fast-breaking dinner, accused the Hizmet movement of trying to divide Turkey without offering any plausible evidence; he was unable to see that it was his credibility that was being undermined. How many diplomats would take those allegations seriously?
Senator McCain's strong reaction
The day the prime minister was repeating his usual allegations, Senator John McCain made Obama's candidate for ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, admit that Erdoğan was moving towards authoritarianism, in a confirmation hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. McCain was so insistent on hearing those words from the mouth of the ambassador-designate, who was responding to questions raised by the committee, he even threatened to freeze his appointment. Those who are curious about the image of the prime minister in the democratic world should see that video.
The overall conviction in the US is that Erdoğan is now part of the club of authoritarian leaders in the world. However, they avoid expressing this view in public because of concerns that it might hurt relations with Turkey, a strategic ally. But we have for the first time heard this impression from a high level official because McCain was so insistent. Speaking on behalf of the US State Department, Spokesperson Jen Psaki also backed the remarks because of the need to be consistent.
The government has to think about this. Why is Senator John McCain, one of Turkey's friends in the Senate, so angry with Erdoğan? Why did he act so insistently, knowing that a confirmation had been made on the growing authoritarian tendencies in Turkey will put him in a delicate position once he begins his job in Ankara? He acted so because it has been a long time since the Erdoğan government crossed the red line of democracy, moving into authoritarianism. Strong and principled politicians like McCain put pressure on the Obama administration to raise their voices with respect to the developments in Turkey.
It is only natural to see that a political administration which targets its opponents through reliance on a discourse of hatred, manipulates the media to achieve its goals, declares innocent people traitors and destroys the judicial mechanism will lose its friends and prestige in the democratic world.
The day McCain forced Ambassador-designate Bass to express his genuine opinion of Erdoğan, the House of Representatives, the other part of the Congress, was discussing the future of democracy in Turkey. An unusually large number of congressmen attended the session sponsored by the Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. Obviously, American politicians were concerned about their congressional record. Most representatives avoided hurting Turkey and the Turkish people, whereas they criticized Prime Minister Erdoğan. The witnesses at the session included the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) representative in the US, Hakan Taşçı.
Hizmet becomes more prestigious as prime minister intensifies insults and aggression
The US and Europe now use Erdoğan's level of aggression against whomever he targets as an indicator to measure the degree of democratic culture of the Turks. For this reason, as Erdoğan and his government intensify their aggression, the Hizmet movement becomes more respectable and prestigious in the world. Hakan Taşçı, who has been representing TUSKON in Washington for seven years, has been invited to Congress for the first time as a witness. High level politicians and political figures in Washington pay visible attention to the events sponsored and held by the Turkic American Alliance (TAA) and the Rumi Forum, which are affiliated with the Hizmet movement. Participants in these events include a number of senators, representatives, local politicians, government officials, diplomats and intellectuals. Those who seek to alienate the Hizmet movement do not gain any attention at all.
Undoubtedly, Erdoğan is most influenced by the decision of Obama, his old friend, to leave him alone. Ankara has been trying to get a phone appointment on the presidential level from Washington, but the efforts have been in vain. Washington insists on remaining in touch with Turkey via Vice President Joe Biden despite crucial developments in the Middle East. Obama, who was used in domestic affairs by Erdoğan as a propaganda tool in the March 30 elections because of their talk over the phone, seems not to be making the same mistake in the lead-up to the presidential election. Despite the fact that Washington is intensely focused on the situation in Iraq, Erdoğan is not taken into account. This is the price he is paying for his move towards authoritarianism.
Leaders who do not respect their own people are doomed to lose their credibility in the world. The fact that Prime Minister Erdoğan is still able to talk to world leaders as an elected leader does not address the legitimacy crisis in the eyes of the international community. This is what we must call "non-precious" loneliness.
Published on Today's Zaman, 22 July 2014, Tuesday