Letter to Howie re: Mtg on Turkey (10/29/9)

Dear Howie,
 
Nice Fall weather down here though no rain yet. We replaced last weeks scheduled talk of “Understanding the Cambrian Explosion” with “Understanding Turkey.” The Cambrian discussion is now on the 12th of November.
 
We came up with the Turkey discussion when in discussing the geo-political situation in the Mideast we concluded we did not know enough about this important country. I gave the presentation along with David’s help.
 
Turkey is obviously located in a very important strategic position acting as a sort of buffer state between the Mideast and Europe. Traditionally of course it was the crossroads of traditional trade routes between these two regions. 80% of the population are Sunni Muslim with the remaining populace consisting of ethnic Kurds. The country is mainly secular in nature with religious demonstrations being discouraged by the state. They have a single house parliamentary form of government. The urban areas are noticeably western in nature and peopled by young urban professionals of both genders. The rural areas are more dominated by traditional Muslim religious practices.
 
I am sure you have heard Turkey has been trying to get into the European Union for some time. They are a bit frustrated as the procedure seems endless to them. Both France and Germany have expressed concerns about Turkey not being geographically part of Europe. Turkey sees this as nothing more than prejudice against a Muslim nation becoming a member.
 
Lately, they have had contacts with Iran and have hinted that if the west does not accept them they will turn their attentions to the east. This is more than likely a bluff as Turkey greatly values their cosmopolitan status.
 
Turkey has always had good relations with the United States which has given them more than 20 billion dollars in military and economic aid.
 
A big questions about Turkey right now is how they are treating their Kurd minority and how in the past they have mistreated their Armenian minority. One concern is current while the other is historical. The U.S. has sided with Turkey in it’s policy towards the establishment of a Kurdish State. Turkey will never consider such a possibility and the U.S. supports them on this. You may recall that the U.S. supported the Kurds in Northern Iraq during the war. This is a good example of Realpoltik in action.
 
Our discussion of the Kurds led into a discussion on how many other ethnic “disturbances” are going on in the world today.We discussed briefly the Basque, Croatia, Northern Ireland and the Palestinians. I also hear now that the Germans wish to acquire the Sudatenland back.There must be numerous examples also in the ‘third world” countries .I referred to some of the conflicts as blood feuds but perhaps that is too simplistic.
 
So is the world going to break up into smaller ethnic units (Balkanization) or are the nation state models going to be replaced by large economic entities like the EU? In discussing this question it was pointed out that in bad economic times countries and regions tended to look out for their own. I have always hoped that if the world was divided up into 6 or more economic units that this would prevent the horrible warfare that dominated the violent 20th century. The nationalism fever fostered by the nation states model would hopefully disappear along with ethnic and racial prejudice. So much for Realpolitik I guess. I can be as idealistic as the next guy. With every two steps forward globalization it appears takes a step back.
 
Finally for current events we talked about Obama and the growing concern by Liberals that things are not “changing” fast enough. It was pointed out that Obama was spending too much time at black tie fundraiser’s put on by special interest and how this was a slap in the face to the thousands who financed his campaign with small donations. This was seen as “business as usual” practices.
After much discussion it became clear that every president most likely made promises he could not keep. This is due to the fact that the president does not have absolute power over anything. He has to work with a system that IS DESIGNED FOR SLOW CHANGE and produces laws that are compromises that no one likes. Mature adults know this but I still can’t help but feel sorry for the youthful idealist who campaigned so hard for Obama. 
 
That’s all for this week Howie. Next week is “Politics-ruled by self interest or morality?” The first question there I believe is whose morals are we talking about? I will let you know what enfolds..
Take care, Gary.

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One response

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