The popular image of the experienced diplomat is a gentleman (most of them are men) who is conservatively dressed and speaks, in public at least, in a manner that matches his clothes. That is he speaks carefully and logically, leaving little to the imagination lest there be misunderstanding or unnecessary offense given. You would not mistake the experienced diplomat for a bully or a blackmailer.
If this is an accurate picture of a veteran diplomat, we can justifiably ask how Dr. Philip Gordon keeps his job. Gordon is Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. As such he is chief U.S. diplomat when it comes to Europe as a whole. According to an Associated Press report of June 26, 2010, Gordon has rebuked America’s long standing ally Turkey with bullying words and a hint of blackmail. For instance:
1. "We think Turkey remains committed to NATO, Europe and the United States, but this needs to be demonstrated." And just why does it need to be demonstrated? Because "Turkey...did not abstain but voted no [in the Security Council on the issue of new sanctions against Iran] and I [Philip Gordon] think Americans haven’t understood why."
Surely Dr. Gordon is being disingenuous. Which Americans "don’t understand" Turkey’s position? As Gordon should know the vast majority of his fellow citizens pay no attention to foreign policy, America’s much less others, and therefore would not know what he is talking about. Those relatively few who do pay attention would know that in the past few months Turkey and Brazil were able to broker a deal for third party refinement of Iran’s nuclear fuel. This arrangement was negotiated with the knowledge and acquiescence of the White House and State Department. Washington, in essence, double crossed the Turks when it insisted on new sanctions. Both Turkey and Brazil understandably balked at this and voted no in the Security Council. So just what is the basis for the Assistant Secretary’s complaint? Perhaps someone ought to ask Hilary Clinton.
2. There is a second issue. Dr. Gordon seems not to approve of Turkey’s "rhetoric" following the Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara. This also is a very strange complaint. What would U.S. rhetoric be like if some other country had killed nine (instead of just one) of its citizens in the process of an illegal attack on an American ship in international waters? No doubt Gordon and his bosses would be threatening war. But, alas, the country which did the killing was Israel and so my comparison does not fit. Most readers will know that Israel can and does kill Americans with impunity. Just ask the survivors of the USS Liberty or the family of Rachel Corrie. Is Philip Gordon now insisting that Israel be allowed to kill Turks with impunity as well?
And, what does the Assistant Secretary mean when he says that if Turkey continues on its present course it will "make it harder for the U.S. to support some of the things that Turkey would like to see us support." Do we detect a bit of blackmail here? What things is he talking about? Is the U.S. government going to remove the PKK from its list of terrorist organizations and start supplying it, as we did with the Taliban back in the 1980s, with advanced weaponry? Or perhaps we would just arrange to facilitate the Israelis doing so.
3. Ankara has sought to explain its position. As its ambassador in Washington, Namik Tan, has said, "Turkish officials have explained repeatedly their reasons for the Security Council vote" as well as their anger with the Israel. Yet all Gordon can do is keep repeating that " Turkey’s explanations have not been widely understood." As far as I know Turkish officials speak very good English. So what could the real problem be?
We are led back to our earlier question. Just which Americans do not, or refuse to, get Turkey’s meaning? I think the answer is pretty clear. Dr. Gordon is fronting for the those members of Congress who have, as the Associated Press puts it, "lashed out and warned of consequences for Ankara" due to their refusal to support the new Iran sanctions and their angry words toward Israel. And who are these Congressmen? They are supporters of Israel, everyone.
Since everyone seems to be giving the Turkish government advice, I will too. Forget about demonstrating your loyalty to the United States in the way Dr. Gordon demands. It would require you to become the obedient servant of an American Congress that has abdicated its political will to a powerful Zionist special interest. To go this route obviously requires that you too sell your national soul. Turkey must define and defend its national interests according to its own lights.
As with all nations that possess a strong sense of their own history and place in the world, Turkey can only go so far in accommodating partners and allies. Only Ankara, and not a faction of American Zionist Congressmen, can draw that line. Turkey has been through tough times with the U.S. before. During the crisis over Cyprus in the 1970s it was the Greek-American lobby that led Congress by the nose, demanding that the Turks abandon their countrymen on Cyprus. Turkey weathered that storm successfully. Now it is the Zionist lobby. Turkey can weather this storm as well.
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