The media belatedly discovers that Turkey’s AKP is not a pro-Western party that will serve as a model for Islamic democracy:
the Western party line remained unchanged over many years:
“Turkey is now a vibrant, competitive democracy….” —New York Times, June 8, 2010
“A vibrant democracy…an example of reform in the region….” —Foreign Policy, May 26, 2011
“Regionally, a vibrant, democratic Turkey no longer under the military’s thumb, can offer the Arab world a true model…. The Turkish model could also provide a model of how Islamic factions can coexist alongside liberal and secular groups, despite their clashing worldviews….”—Haaretz, August 15, 201
“A vibrant democracy…led by Islam’s equivalent to the Christian Democrats….” —Financial Times, September 15, 2011
“A template that effectively integrates Islam, democracy and vibrant economics….” — New York Times, February 5, 2011
“Turkey is poised to become one of the most successful countries of the 21st century, a model of Muslim democracy and a powerful force for regional peace… —Boston Globe, June 14, 2011
“One of the most remarkable success stories of the past decade…a vibrant democracy and dynamic economy under the Muslim equivalent of Christian Democrats”…—Financial Times, April 19, 20121
The Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP and widely (if meaninglessly) described as a “moderately Islamist” party, came to power in 2002, at which point the rubicund encomiums from the press and foreign spokesmen began. I began visiting Istanbul in 2003, moved there a year or so later, stayed until 2013, and left after the so-called Gezi protests, when, only then, the cheery music in the media fairly abruptly stopped.
The West’s collective assessment of Turkey throughout that time, displayed in official diplomatic statements, the mainstream press, and just as often in the specialized media, was notably weird and notably wrong. It was either the cause or the consequence of an exceptionally poor understanding of Turkey by Western publics and their policymakers. It resulted in the crafting of policies toward Turkey that were neither in Turkey’s interests nor the West’s, and helped, at least to some extent, to usher in the disaster before us today.
Living in a state of constant denial while clinging to the current Narrative is seldom an effective strategy. I can’t help but notice that absolutely no one is talking about Turkey joining the EU anymore.