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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Facebook Meets Brick-and-Mortar Politics": Let's Talk Turkey

As recently acknowledged by David Ignatius of The Washington Post (, "no world leader has a greater stake in Obama’s reelection than the Turkish prime minister." Obama is also deeply committed to his alliance with Erdogan, and, after a March 2012 meeting with Erdogan in Seoul, the American president declared (

"I think it's fair to say that over the last several years, the relationship between Turkey and the United States has continued to grow across every dimension. And I find Prime Minister Erdogan to be an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues."

As evidence of this "outstanding" friendship, Obama has demonstrated a willingness to ignore:

• Erdogan's suppression of political opponents;
• Erdogan's imprisonment of journalists;
• Erdogan's hatred of Israel;
• Erdogan's friendship with leaders of Hamas;
• Erdogan's acceptance of the 2011 Qaddafi Human Rights Prize;
• Turkey's ongoing oppression of its Kurdish minority;
• Turkey's warm relationship with Iran;
• A spiraling rate of murder involving women since Erdogan's AK Party came to power;
• A child bride rate of 37% in Turkey.

Indeed, Obama is also reneging on his pre-election promise to demand that Turkey recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Facebook Meets Brick-and-Mortar Politics" (, Thomas Friedman also weighs in on the Obama-Erdogan love affair. Writing from Istanbul, Friedman concludes:

"If Erdogan’s 'Sultanization' of Turkey continues unchecked, it will soil his truly significant record and surely end up damaging Turkish democracy. It will also be bad for the region because whoever wins the election in Egypt, when looking for a model to follow, will see the E.U. in shambles, the Obama team giving Erdogan a free pass and Turkey thriving under a system that says: Give your people growth and you can gradually curb democratic institutions and impose more religion as you like."

On a day when Friedman is so critical of Obama's relationship with Erdogan and Nicholas Kristof is savaging Obama for his inaction with respect to the carnage in Syria and Sudan (see:, and notwithstanding the inane ground war in Afghanistan which continues to bleed the US white, the polls still indicate that a majority of Americans approve of Obama's foreign policy (see: Time for a wake-up call. When Bill Clinton described Obama as an "amateur" president (see:, he was being kind.


  1. Greetings from Germany Jeff!

    Please see this rather expansive article that explains the reason all American presidents, including Obama, "must" cozy up to Turkey.

    Requires some patience.

  2. By the way, when Clinton described Obama as an "amateur," it is likely that he is critical of Obama's inability to maintain the coercion and dominance required to guarantee securitization of the oil of that region, one that Clinton put into motion. Again, see article already linked.