The never-ending struggle: How to best understand Türkiye - SELÇUK TÜRKYILMAZ

The never-ending struggle: How to best understand Türkiye

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a very important statement about Türkiye over two decades ago. If I am not mistaken, this statement was in Clinton’s speech before his visit to the country. Following the statement that the 20th century was built upon Turks’ losses, he had added that the 21st century would be determined by the decision Turks make regarding themselves. It was very interesting, as similar statements were made by some righteous orientalists. 

This evaluation was noteworthy because it was made by a former U.S. president. The president’s statement was a clear reflection of his serious knowledge and awareness of history. It is in this context that I used the term “righteous orientalist.” Please note that I am not talking about orientalists or Western politicians’ love of Turks. Those among them who need to know, truly know and are thus able to evaluate accordingly. This is exactly what I mean by righteous because they were also ideological approaches that determined East-West relations. 

It can be said that the ideological information produced about the East, Islam, and Turks leads to more permanent results, and have a more determining role over the masses. Surely, such outcomes are closely related to the psychology of victory and defeat. In fact, common forms of the statement are built upon anti-victory and defeat. The valid discourse forms gave winners the chance to rebuild themselves and had a transformative effect on the defeated. So, in which context should Clinton’s speech be evaluated? Why were righteous determinations and evaluations being made? Did Clinton want to prolong and further deepen Türkiye’s dependence until 1999, or was he concerned about Ottoman history being brought up, especially in foreign affairs? In other words, was the statement a reflection of righteous determinations and evaluations, or was it shaped in accordance with ideological aims? 

If we overlook the fact that the statement was made by a politician, we will have problems analyzing the statement. The world of the 1990s was built according to U.S. liberalism. Surely the Turkish intelligentsia’s attitude against U.S.-based liberalism will be discussed in detail in future years. However, it must be made clear that it wasn’t the approach taken by the intelligentsia alone in the 1990s against U.S. sovereignty ideology that was interesting. During this period, non-governmental organizations operating in various fields, academic groups, politicians, and the sports and art community had all signified their presence within the frame of dependence relations. Considering the vastness of the social environment, it becomes clear that defeat psychology will not present an adequate frame. During the same term, there was also a groundswell against this vast network that came from the depths and had the capacity to activate the surface. The conflicts on the surface in Türkiye could not be explained with ideologies, and the real determining dynamics could only be seen from the outside. The U.S. president's speech had taken into consideration the sociological schism within. 

It has been more than two decades since Clinton made this speech. Ever since then, the world we live in was radically shaken a few times, and the balance in East-West relations changed significantly. The U.S. and the West drowned the Islamic region’s center in blood a few times, and major destructions were experienced in our region with their new invader occupation attempts. However, despite this, the West had no visible achievements like in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result of this, groups that lost themselves with the appealing terms of liberalism, and whose presence gained significance within dependence relations, lost ideologically. Yet, as they had imagined their new invasion attempts would prepare the ground for a new ideology, they saw no harm in aligning themselves with the winners. They saw no concern in aligning themselves with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and adopted the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization’s (FETÖ) lies as truths and used it to support the ideological stance. Surely these show the depth of dependency relations. The Greeks, who have been continuing their anti-Türkiye sentiment as an ideological attitude for almost two centuries at the West’s behest and provocation, taking action again, while those inside the country continue to talk about the “brotherhood of peoples,” makes it necessary for us to see the web of relations. 

Türkiye cannot be understood without knowing the nature of the never-ending struggle! 

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