"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!"
Rudyard Kipling, "The Ballad of East and West".
"I am a strong supporter of Turkish accession talks with the EU. The prospects of EU membership has built a bridge to a key Muslim country".
Rt. Hon. David Miliband, Foreign Secretary, "New Diplomacy: Challenges for Foreign Policy", 19 July 2007, Speech at Chatham House to the Royal Society, in www.fco.gov.uk.
Bridge building indeed! David Miliband is probably the most intelligent member of the current British Cabinet, with the exception of his brother (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) and Edward Balls (Brown's evil genius). And, he is the best appointment to the Foreign Secretaryship, since Lord Hurd. However those facts do not obviate the less than forthright and clear sighted language used in his speech at Chatham House back in July as it relates to Turkish membership to the European Union. As the wonderful British journalist, Geoffrey Wheatcroft in an article yesterday's Financial Times points out, Miliband, like his former maitre, Tony Blair, uses on the subject of Ankara's future membership of the European Union, "arguments that sound good but do not really stand up". Arguments which try through sophistry and tendaciousness, to obscure the prima facie fact that: a) Turkey is not a European country; b) Turkey will never be a European country; c) That the EU is in fact a 'Christian Club', notwithstanding attempts by socialists like Miliband to argue otherwise; d) That there are no intrinsic, realpolitik reasons for Turkey to join the EU, except if the EU were to become a grossmachtpolitik `a la the late unlamented Sovietskaya Vlast; e) That 'reform' in Ankara, such as it is, are more likely to succeed if they are the end results of internal pressures of Turkish society, and, not merely external pressures by Europe; f) That notwithstanding the fact that Turkey is 'Muslim', its influence on its immediate Arab neighbors is extremely limited, and, thus the supposition that Turkish membership of the EU will have a 'positive' result on said neighbors is eye wash, pur et simple; g) That it is far, far better for both Ankara and Brussels, that each recognizes these perhaps disagreeable but, all to true facts, and move onwards, rather than engage in a futile exercise which will avail neither party nothing. Unfortunately, for our post-modernists, history is not permeable, it is not malleable, it is not clay. Lepanto, the sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683, cannot be washed away.
With all of the above in mind, I encourage you all to read the attached article by the British journalist and author Geoffrey Wheatcroft.
Structural flaws in Miliband’s Turkish bridge, By Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Published: September 9 2007 18:43 Last updated: September 9 2007 18:43
"At one end of Europe, Turkey has just acquired a controversial new president; at the other, the British foreign secretary has reiterated his view that Turkish accession to the European Union is imperative, before setting off to visit Turkey. Abdullah Gul and David Miliband share the view that Turkey should join the EU. Unfortunately, what they show between them is that the difficulties of Turkish membership are, in practice, well-nigh insurmountable.
In his inaugural speech as president, Mr Gul praised the Turkish state’s secular tradition, but that could not disguise the profound unease his appointment has caused among those who consider themselves the guardians of that tradition – above all, the army officer corps, who were conspicuous by their absence at the ceremony.
He is an observant Muslim, whose wife infuriates the secularists by wearing a headscarf and whose AKP party, though not “Islamist” in the most radical sense, is religious in inspiration. His choice by parliament led to an incipient constitutional crisis and the army would have blocked it if it could have done so without causing a worse crisis.
He has made the right noises about political progress and affirmed his disapproval of religious and national discrimination, but that only serves as a reminder that in most European countries such things do not need to be said. At regular intervals in the 45 years since Turkish membership of the European Economic Community was first broached, Turkey has set back its own cause, with the invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the military coup of 1980, the repression of the Kurds and the long delay in ending capital punishment.
At each setback, it was not cynical to suppose that many European politicians breathed private sighs of relief. This sad story can often seem like an exercise in bad faith, especially on the European side, but is in truth the opposite, almost a case of social embarrassment, an offer lightly made in haste and repented at leisure.
Like other enthusiasts for Turkish accession, notably Tony Blair, Mr Miliband uses arguments that sound good but do not really stand up. Last December, Mr Blair said that Turkish membership mattered “not just in respect to Turkey but with wider relationships between the west and the Muslim world”, as a way of building bridges (that favourite image) between the two.
Now Mr Miliband spells it out even more clearly by mentioning the threat from al-Qaeda. To which the answer is obvious enough. Building such bridges, spreading democracy in western Asia and combating fundamentalist terrorism are all very desirable goals, but they have not been the purpose of the EU from its conception with the Treaty of Rome 50 years ago.
In another bad point (as barristers say), Mr Miliband claims that “every time the EU has enlarged, it has emerged stronger – more confident, more capable”. That might have been true of enlargements up to the 1980s but it is patently untrue of the last enlargement of 2004. The EU acquired 10 new members that – as we realised with a headache on the morrow of the festivities – now comprise 25 per cent of the Union’s population while contributing about 5 per cent of its economic product.
You do not need a doctorate in economics to see the problems that spells. And you do not need to be a pessimist to see that adding a country with a per capita income not much more than one-tenth that of the UK’s – and which will, moreover, soon be more populous than Germany – would threaten the very being of the EU.
But the greatest difficulty of all is not economic or religious, cultural or even geographic (as one French politician has asked: can we really have a “Europe” that extends to the borders of Iraq?) but political. That means not the politics of Turkey but of Europe. For all its very great achievements, the besetting weakness of the EU has always been its undemocratic character, with political and administrative elites dragging a recalcitrant populace behind them. Deals agreed by the elites are regularly rejected by the mere voters (Maastricht by the Danes, Nice by the Irish, the constitution by the French and Dutch) until they are told to go back to vote again until they get it right.
And Turkey? Contrast the zeal for accession expressed by the foreign secretary, Mr Blair and various German and Spanish politicians with polls in which barely one-fifth of ordinary Europeans say that they want Turkey to join. It might be an idea to start by building another bridge – within Europe, between rulers and ruled."Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007, www.ft.com.