Global Development and Turkey

Posted on 10/12/2014

Global Development and Turkey


-An Imperial Turkey- I remember an Aesop’s fable about the frog that wanted to be bigger than the ox. According to the fable, the frog took a deep breath and blew and blew, and swelled and swelled. Finally, he said, “I’m sure the ox is not as big as this!” However, at that very moment, the frog burst.

Indeed, some states are behaving just like the frog in this fable. They pretend they are superpowers. If one spends a few days in Turkey, one soon notices that this is the predominant behavior here. Almost every official statement is embellished with words such as the “new Turkey,” the “great Turkey” and the “big state.”

But reality is a great teacher and often comes as irony. On the day the Turkish president was preparing a gorgeous Republic Day celebration in the new, world-famous palace, nearly 20 citizens were killed in a mine accident. Days have gone by but the “new and great Turkey” has not been able to even find the bodies of those dead miners.

The photos from the region are in fact precise proof of all sorts of poverty: poor people, poor technology, poor communication, poor management, etc. In no way are they similar to the depictions of ornamented, marbled rooms of new Turkey’s new White House.

It was Karl Marx who said the first time is a tragedy, the second time is a farce. Naming the new presidential palace the “White Palace” is truly a farce. Does it remind one of an edifice somewhere, perhaps another presidential palace in another country? Of course, all Islamists who hate the US love the White House for its connotations of prestige and power. Many countries’ politics whisper a simple motto: “We want to be a superpower like the US!” Now, so does Turkey’s.

But, for sure, the Turkish White House is bigger than the White House in the US. Reports claim that it has 1,000 rooms. Although it lacks the required official sanctioning of its construction in the middle of a forest, it is now the symbol of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan-brand of politics.

But it contains a tragedy as well. Erdoğan had a poor-politics image. People first saw him having dinner with the poorest in Turkish slums. His sauntering from there to a 1,000-room palace makes a really interesting story.

Turkey’s insistence on pretending to be a big state is more visible in foreign policy. Turkish politicians’ narrative has even more grandeur than that of US leaders. No, its scope is not just regional. Turkish leaders inform us of their global political plans daily. They want us to believe that Turkey is the other great power that directly influences global politics, just like the US.

Are they in Cloud Cuckoo Land? I was thinking they are playing make-believe because they see it as a part of party politics tactics. Well, there is logic in that thinking. Who cares about reality? This pretense is good for politicians if it grabs many votes. But Turkey’s candidacy for an interim seat in the UN Security Council changed my view. Was that a joke? Aren’t they even aware of how they are pictured in the international media? Their arguments on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)?

No! Leading Turkish politicians had declared that their election to the UN Security Council was almost guaranteed. It was even rumored that the government had pre-arranged a huge celebration in a luxury hotel. But Turkey’s election did not happen, as many countries failed to vote for Turkey.

But the more dramatic point is something different: Their application for UN Security Council membership and the narrative they employed in this process proved that Turkey’s leaders have been hijacked by their dreams. The cloud of illusion around them obscures their view of reality.

So, keep reading the fable. Take another deep breath. Then blow, blow and blow!

(This article has been taken from Mr. Bacik’s column in Today’s Zaman Newspaper.)

Mr. Bacik was born in 1974 in Bursa, and graduated from School of Politics at Ankara University in 1998. He completed his PhD in the Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University. His research papers have been published in internationally well known journals including Middle East Policy, International Review of Sociology, Peace Review, Journal of International Affairs, Arab Studies Quarterly, Turkish Studies, Electoral Studies, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, The Muslim World, The Review of International Affairs. Prof Bacik is currently a Turkey Reports contributor in German Marshall Fund (GMF) as well as working in the Department of International Relations, Ipek University. He is also an associate member of Turkish Academy of Sciences (TUBA)

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