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Engaging Turkey

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan, blogs at Informed Comment and is the author of Engaging the Muslim World. He comments on President Obama's first state visit to a Muslim country.

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Juan Cole

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Comments [37]

Valerie from Brooklyn, NY

Although the mainstream media covered President Obama's trip to Turkey in a favorable light, it is quite embarassing as an American to see our leader have to tiptoe around relevant issues such as Turkey's genocide of 1.5 million Christian Armenians during World War I.
If the United States, a a world leader, wanted to "engage" postwar Germany to reform itself an join the West, but couldn't mention the Holocaust for fear of "offending" Germans, how seriously would the world take FDR?
If we, as Americans, have come to terms with slavery, segregation, and discrimination so as to set up Affirmative Action laws and elect an African-American to our country's highest office, why can't Turkey admit that they committed a genocide?
How awful to watch our new president squirm for fear of "offending" these arrogant people. Until Turkey comes to terms with its sordid past - as other countries have done - it should remain far outside of the European Union and civilized society.

Apr. 11 2009 07:26 PM
Valerie from Brooklyn, NY

Although the mainstream media covered President Obama's trip to Turkey in a favorable light, it is quite embarassing as an American to see our leader have to tiptoe around relevant issues such as Turkey's genocide of 1.5 million Christian Armenians during World War I.
If the United States, a a world leader, wanted to "engage" postwar Germany to reform itself an join the West, but couldn't mention the Holocaust for fear of "offending" Germans, how seriously would the world take FDR?
If we, as Americans, have come to terms with slavery, segregation, and discrimination so as to set up Affirmative Action laws and elect an African-American to our country's highest office, why can't Turkey admit that they committed a genocide?
How awful to watch our new president squirm for fear of "offending" these arrogant people. Until Turkey comes to terms with its sordid past - as other countries have done - it should remain far outside of the European Union and civilized society.

Apr. 11 2009 07:26 PM
eva

#33, DAT,
I hadn't even considered the itinerary as you presented it.
That's interesting. Very.
BTW, you voted for McCain? I didn't expect you to based on your postings here.

Apr. 07 2009 06:54 PM
kelly from Park Slope

I hope the Palestinians will start to to treat Israelis and Jews like human beings.

Last week a Palestinian ax-murderer walks into a peaceful Jewish village, a place where people meditate and make handicrafts, a place which absolutely refused to surround itself with a barbed-wire fence. He finds two little boys - a seven year-old and a bar mitzvah boy- and attacks them (at least one FROM THE BACK) killing the Bar Mitzvah boy and injuring the younger child, then running away.

While Palestinians, who claim they are a
people and have a culture and a religion of peace, no one condemned the ax murder.

Quite the opposite. They fall all over themselves taking credit for this and other heinous crimes against humanity.

Apr. 07 2009 01:28 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

I think Colin Powell was right when
he said, what if Obama is a Muslim,
what if he is.
"Is there something wrong
with being a Muslim in this country."

If Obama as President of the USA, is a Muslim,
there is nothing wrong with that.

I am an atheist, do not practice any religion
and do not believe that any walked on water
or virgin births.

However, I don't see any problem in Obama
being a Muslim.

I think Obama has done a fantastic job
overseas.

And I voted for John Sidney McCain.

It's interesting that Obama went to the ME,
and never stopped in Israel, flew right over
Israel and stopped in Iraq.

Visited Turkey, a Muslim country first,
and bypassed Israel.

I don't think this would have happened under
McCain, Clinton, or any of the two Bushes.

I think Obama is sending a message to Israel,
he wants the Palestinians to be treated like
human beings and I think it's about time.

Apr. 07 2009 01:06 PM
Angel from Sunset Park

I thought my remarks are boring !!!

Yet another irresistible response from Peter, LOL.

Get some help, really.

Apr. 07 2009 12:27 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Wasting my time with the snarksters, boring!

Apr. 07 2009 12:18 PM
Angel from Sunset Park

Phil #29,

I agree Turkey and especially Istanbul are especially beautiful I have been their my self!!

Apr. 07 2009 12:11 PM
Phil from Queens

No need for Obama to apologize to Turkey. Turkey is an already a loyal friend of America. If anything, we need to do more to support them in fighting their own Islamist extremists that would ruin Turkey. It's only a matter of time before the Turkish Army takes out the Islamist fundamentalists who would destroy that wonderful country. PS -- it's a lovely country. You should all go there sometime. Istanbul has a lot to teach NYC about mass transit, especially the use of ferry and trolley service.

Apr. 07 2009 12:03 PM
kelly from Park Slope

hjs - i think we agree

if "modern" means tolerant and open-minded - there is a dearth of modernity in the Arab and Islmic world

Apr. 07 2009 11:59 AM
Angel from Sunset Park

Yet you cant seem to help your self to respond to my remarks, if they are so boring!!

Anonymity is the refuge of cowards,

Pathetic...

Apr. 07 2009 11:51 AM
hjs from 11211

kelly
qaeida is not a government, but does the use of tech by a few make them modern? most arab princes have access to modern luxuries while the working people live in mud huts.

Apr. 07 2009 11:49 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Angel,

Thanks for the invite. But no thank you. I can't say I am impressed with your style of discussing issues. You do the whole snarky thing and I find that boring.

take care bro,

Apr. 07 2009 11:46 AM
Marco from New York

Professor Cole is a well known apologist for the Iranian regime. Ask Salman Rushdie what he thinks about him.

Apr. 07 2009 11:40 AM
Angel from Sunset Park

Peter,

Maybe we can meet in person so we discuss these issues, maybe something is being lost on these boards...since we are in the same hood "bro".

Apr. 07 2009 11:40 AM
kelly from Park Slope

Yay...
I hope gays from the Muslim world can find some refuge in places like Vermont!

Activists Protest Recent Slayings Of Gay Men In Iraq
FoxReno.com - ‎9 hours ago‎
SAN FRANCISCO -- Gay rights activists in San Francisco gathered on Monday evening to lay flowers on symbolic tombs representing slain gay Iraqis. ...

Apr. 07 2009 11:32 AM
Sara from UWS

Kelly

Certainly but it takes some reading comprehension, OK!

"At a press conference in Turkey, President Obama casually rebuked the old chestnut that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation.

"One of the great strengths of the United States," the President said, "is ... we have a very large Christian population -- we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Apr. 07 2009 11:31 AM
isa kocher from istanbul

maasha'ALLAH, alhamduli'LLAH, thenk GOD. Vermont rocks. What damned good news. Thanks to Vermont and thanks Mr. Leher! You rock too.

Apr. 07 2009 11:29 AM
kelly from Park Slope

#15 - Al Qaeida is "modern"

they use cell phones and internet technology to plan terrorism

Apr. 07 2009 11:28 AM
isa kocher from istanbul

thank god! god bless vermont hallelluia! unbelievable!

]

Apr. 07 2009 11:27 AM
Jim Byrne from Bushwick

Juan's blog revealed to me the depth of censorship by NPR news. During the height of the war in Iraq NPR would report something like "A car bomb exploded in Iraq city X, Y number of people died", then go on to the next story.

Then I would go to Informed Comment Juan's blog and see American Soldiers were killed that day.
There were dozens of bombings and attacks that day.

Apr. 07 2009 11:26 AM
isa kocher from istanbul

as an american, vet, fulbright fellow and practicing muslim living in the Middle East I am deeply impressed and proud of Obama. He speaks with the kind of personal caring intelligent honest voice that used to be considered what American is. there is NO MUSLIM community, but there are a billion Muslims, and Turkey is 90% not a practicing Muslim community but what the Turks call an ID Muslim {kimlik kart} Muslim community. Most people want a US president who cares about their needs really but their needs are not met by our allies who are their oppressors. Obama is making a damned good first step but he has a LONG row to hoe ahead and many booby traps

Apr. 07 2009 11:26 AM
hjs from 11211

can theocracies ever be "modern"

Apr. 07 2009 11:20 AM
kelly from Park Slope

#11 - Sara - can you quote something specific from Obama's remarks that would support your point?

Thanks

Apr. 07 2009 11:20 AM
kelly from Park Slope

From today's Times by a Turkish Journalist- all is not rosy in Turkey.

Since 2007, Prime Minister Erdogan has become more authoritarian, lashing out at his critics, suing journalists and alienating liberal Turks who once supported him. Last Sunday, voters in municipal elections delivered a serious warning: the party’s overall support fell to 39 percent, from 47 percent two years ago. The elections revealed a divided map, four different Turkeys: the liberal coastline, the conservative inland, the ultra-nationalist middle and the Kurdish nationalist southeast. The Justice and Development Party will grow when it embraces all Turkey’s colors and shrink as it denies them.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/opinion/07aydintasbas.html?_r=1

Apr. 07 2009 11:19 AM
Robin T. from Manhattan

Jon Meacham has written a great little book, "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation," in which he describes America's "public religion" as essentially deist but not sectarian. In other words, we separate church and state, but our public discourse is filled with references to a "god" or "spirit." (E.g. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men . . .are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights."

Obama is keyed into this nonsectarian view of public life as infused with spirit, but not prejudice. I love him.

Apr. 07 2009 11:18 AM
Sara from UWS

Kelly #6,

I believe you miss the point that president Obama was making, he was trying to relay to the Muslim world and the rest of the world that the United States is not a Christian country as it is often perceived and championed by the extreme right wing in our country.

Apr. 07 2009 11:17 AM
Steve from New York

What about "cultural" Muslims--people who may have been raised Muslim but who are otherwise non-believers, half-believers, and who may be liberals, or socialists, or whatever else. Don't we do them a disservice and aid Muslim conservatives by constantly talking about the "Muslim" world? We don't talk about the "Catholic" world or "Buddhist" world.

Apr. 07 2009 11:16 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Angel,

Torture is a great topic for discussion, but I am not sure how it relates to Turkey.

Apr. 07 2009 11:15 AM
Robin T. from Manhattan

“Some people see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were, and say, why not." Robert Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy's dream; Barack Obama's program.

Apr. 07 2009 11:14 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Jason,

I think that both Turkey and the US are similar in the way you mention. Turkey and the US are always trying to balance how much religion is going to drip into politics and policy. I think this is one of the reasons that Turkey has embraced Israel over recent years. Israel and Turkey are the two countries in the region most alike in this area. They also share common threats as well.

Apr. 07 2009 11:13 AM
kelly from Park Slope

Jason,

I can't speak for the religous right, but as long as no one declares that American shares its values with Islamic values, especially the oppressive and racist Shaira laws, I'm fine.

I've been reading this week how Afghanistan is now trying to legalize rape of women within a marriage...

We should be embracing secular Muslims and those who share our values with the courage to reform Islam in the many Arab and Islamic countries that are culturally and religously stuck in the 7th century...

Apr. 07 2009 11:10 AM
Jason from Brooklyn

I was really pleased by Obama’s announcement during his visit to Turkey's capital of Ankara that the United States is “NOT” a Judeo Christian or Muslim nation!

In other words our predominant values are secular!!

How do the religious right and the right wing react to this statement?

Apr. 07 2009 10:40 AM
BL Moderator from Varick St. Studios

[[BL Moderator Writes: Folks, let's please try to keep the discussion on-topic to the discussion taking place on the air. For one, it hasn't started and won't for an hour. Also, it's about Turkey. No comments have been removed, but consider this a plea to wait until the segment begins or to make sure your comments are related to the Obama visit in Turkey.
Thanks!
-BL Show-]]

Apr. 07 2009 10:12 AM
Angel from Sunset Park

To comment #2:

Are you the same person who believes that torture of human beings is an acceptable policy?

Apr. 07 2009 10:05 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

In a recent blog post, Mr. Cole wrote that “the two-state solution [between Israel and the Palestinians] is probably over.” In other words, Mr. Cole believes that the state of Israel will cease to exist. Perhaps you could ask Mr. Cole if there are any other countries in this world that will cease to exist, or is it only Israel? Mr. Cole also wrote in his blog that Israeli self defense is “illegal.” Apparently, when rockets fly towards your houses and schools from Gaza, Mr. Cole believes that Israelis do not have the right to self defense. Are there any other people, besides Jews, that Mr. Cole believes should walk quietly do their deaths? Of course, Mr. Cole is anti-Semitic – he expects Jews to behave differently then everyone else.

I know this post will probably be deleted because it is not part of the WNYC liberal agenda, but if you are going to have a guest on who so openly supports the destruction of the Jewish state, you should at the very least tell your listeners. For example, you wouldn’t interview a member of the KKK about Turkey and forget to mention his or her membership in the KKK. You shouldn't forget to mention Mr. Cole's anti-Semitic beliefs.

Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan, and a devout anti-Semite. Welcome to WNYC!

Apr. 07 2009 08:31 AM
Gabrielle from NYC

How does the Turkish government view the US's involvement in Afghanistan and the Obama administration's latest plan to send more troops?

Juan Cole is great. thanks for having him on...

Apr. 07 2009 08:28 AM

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