Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan isn’t the only loser in last Sunday’s elections. President Obama had made Erdogan a focus of his policy. The voters in that troubled NATO country voted against Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and in so doing, slapped President Obama.
President Obama went to Ankara in April, 2009, for an early edition of his Apology Tours. He spoke to the Turkish Parliament assuring deputies there that “the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.”
Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That’s why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That’s why we prohibited–without exception or equivocation–the use of torture. All of us have to change. And sometimes change is hard.
Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past.
The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.
Those Turkish deputies doubtless were reminded of the 1915 mass murder of the Armenian Christians as this self-described Christian appeared before them to apologize for America’s sins. It was and remains an astonishingly bad performance by President Obama.
In the six years since he spoke in Ankara, Turkey has been drifting closer and closer to the Muslim Brotherhood’orbit. Erdogan welcomed the election in Egypt of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. So did Mr. Obama. Only when Egypt’s military, backed by millions of Egyptian street protesters, rose up and overthrew Morsi did the Obama administration cut off U.S. aid to Egypt.
In 2010, Erdogan “discretely encouraged” a flotilla led by the Turkish vessel, Mavi Marmara, to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The violent confrontation that followed when Israeli Defense Force (IDF) commandoes sought to stop the ship resulted in a number of deaths. Israel was condemned in Europe and the UN. But the IDF responded that the claim the ship was carrying only “humanitarian aid” to the people of Gaza was not accurate. Hamas, the terrorist outfit that rules Gaza, uses construction equipment to build tunnels under Israel. From these, terrorists can emerge to kill Israeli kindergarteners and attack Israeli hospitals and homes.
This episode led Israeli satirists to lampoon the Turkish-led “Peace Flotilla” with this video. This pushback brought another view of the politically correct Erdogan effort to thousands, but the “narrative” of Israeli aggression nonetheless moved the Obama administration to criticize the IDF.
President Obama followed up his own apology tours by successfully pressuring Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2013, Mr. Obama prodded Netanyahu to call Erdogan and express to him his regret for the loss of life on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010.
President Obama treated this arm-twisted, three years after the event expression from the Israeli leader as a major diplomatic coup. And the Washington Post agreed. “A very big deal,” cooed columnist Max Fisher.
Friday’s phone call [between Messers Netanyahu, Erdogan, and Obama] didn’t make the underlying issues, particularly [Israeli] settlements any easier to solve. But it is a good sign for American and Israeli diplomacy necessary to get anywhere. And that’s something.
Very well. That was two years ago. Where have we gotten since with this administration’s diplomacy by apology?
Are the Christians in the Mideast any safer? They are being slaughtered and driven out of the villages where they have lived from biblical times. My colleague Tony Perkins is urging Christians here to wear a “Nasrani” pin—the Arabic word for Nazarene, or Christian. Tony wants to draw attention to the fact that this symbol is daubed on the doors of homes, churches, and businesses by jihadists as a prelude to attacks.
But the Obama White House tries to downplay these attacks on Christians. They deplored, of course, the ISIS beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians, but referred to the martyrs only as “Egyptian citizens.” They conveniently omitted the truth that the reason these young Egyptians were targeted for a gruesome death is because they are Christian.
Are the Jews any safer? They are still being rocketed from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Jewish teens are still being kidnapped and murdered.
Are even Muslims in the region better off? The entire Middle East has exploded in flames and blood. From Libya to Syria, from Yemen to Egypt, violence is the norm in this perpetually stormy area. If you are Shiite in a Sunni-dominant country, your life is in danger. And vice versa.
The Turkish vote may bring some signs of hope if it means President Erdogan’s drive to turn Turkey into an Islamist regime is being dealt a setback. Only if this administration seizes this opportunity will we have occasion to celebrate.
For all the media hype about the “Soft Power” and “Smart Diplomacy” of this administration, the facts on the ground show that the policies pursued by the Obama administration in the Middle East have produced little but chaos.
“President Barack Obama meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” by Secretary of Defense – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union, and on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.