Esat Ozan has been the rare, tireless voice in the United States, putting up
his dukes in the sea of Turcophobes for many years. Here is a commentary that
appeared somewhere on the Internet.
LERNER 'S FRIENDLY VOICE IS AN INSPIRATION FOR ALL TURKS
IS DECEMBER THE KEY TO THE TURKISH WOES AT THE EUROPEAN
"Will Europe say yes to Turkey in December? (some) think they should but won't,
(they) may be right .
But with or without continental Europe's condescending blessing, Turkey is the best model
the Muslim world has, and in trying to help other Muslim states follow her lead , it would
make sense to look past the lofty constitutional rhetoric so many despotic states adopt
and ignore, and take a harder look at the role and training of their military
Those were the meaningful words with which Barbara Lerner, a well-respected free-lance
writer with whom the Chicago area readers as well as others all over the United States
have became accustomed to expect from her. With that courageous paragraph she ended her
refreshing article about Turkey and Turks. Her free-lance column published on the NRO,
National Review Online was quite out of the ordinary Barbara Lerner's piece entitled
"THE SECRETS OF TURKISH DEMOCRACY" comes as close to be the friendliest
endorsement, to date, on Turkey, the most maligned country on the face of the earth today.
Many articles have been written , in the past, concerning this inequity which has existed
from time immemorial. No one before dared to use what Barbara Lerner used in her recent
article bearing the above-mentioned title and call Turkey: "The only Muslim democracy
in the Mideast . Most writers show the State of Israel as the only example on this subject
.She very aptly professes that, usually, this is "a region where
"democracy" means one-man-one-vote -one-time." She asks "How has
Turkey's republic managed to survive for 79 years?
Barbara is successful in her analysis of the political equation better than many others
have dared to do before her. She is decidedly replete with quite a different sort of
reasoning compared with that of other writers who have tried their hand at the process.
Barbara says that Turkey with her record of 79 years of sustaining democracy is not only
holding a record in the Mideast, but her democracy is longer than any comparably
democratic regime in France, Belgium or Germany, three countries, she says, currently
beset by doubt about whether Turkey is a fit candidate for the European Union.
Barbara's words are not only to be regarded as encouraging pronouncements for all Turks
who read her column, but they are also regarded as a bit of fresh air, amid the stagnated
hypocritical pabulum generating from the member states of the said European Union. The
courage of Ms. Lerner is obvious. She has what the French call that "je ne sais
quoi" quality in her convictions that Turkey is equipped to meet European 'allegedly'
high moral and political standards.
MILITARY THE GUARDIAN
OF THEIR CONSTITUTION"
Barbara Lerner seems to have succeeded in her interpretation on how Turkish people
regard their military as the staunch defender of the founder of the Republic,
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. She says: "The Turkish military is the great secret of
Turkish democracy. She likens the role of the military on the Turkish scene to the
function that the Supreme Court plays in the U.S' governance system. This analysis
of hers reminds me of one of my past articles with the title of: "TURKS' LOVE
AFFAIR WITH THEIR MILITARY, the Defenders and Protectors of Turkish Independence and
Secularism." This article penned in 1996 had similar arguments on the same
theme. Since it reiterated Barbara Lerners philosophy on this very subject I'd like
to repeat here a paragraph taken from my own work of some time ago. It had said the
following: "When the mere mention of the word 'military' brings a resounding
dislike to the minds of just about everybody in the world, the very same word may
have a soothing and reassuring effect on the psyche of the ordinary Turk. His
respect of the military has always been reciprocated by the Turkish Armed Forces.
The common man in the hinterland, the people of the countryside, the farmer, the
villager have always shown great affinity as well as respect for them.
For thousands of years, at least since the rise of Sparta in ancient Greece, which
triggered the Pelloponesian Wars, nothing has been so disruptive to world order as
the friction which comes with the rise of military powers. As the Turkish-friendly
Barbara Lerner implies, one such power was the Ottoman Empire, and from its earlier
days, it existed because of its military preparedness and above all the Turks'
unquestionable prowess in their military campaigns.
Lerner. We are in your debt.
Barbara Lerner , nevertheless, contends that the Ottoman
Sultans did not wield the absolute power of a Stalin or any other similarly despotic
Oriental potentate such as a name which is constantly in the news today, Saddam Hussein of
Iraq. While trying to explain why Turks embraced the concept, the idea of democracy, when
other nations surrounding her failed to do so, she says "Turks, had a
long-established and quite elaborate array of intermediate institutions-in short, a civil
society." Her reference to the dramatic, come-from-behind victory of the Turkish
forces led by Kemal Ataturk is worthy of praise. Turkey is one nation, she professes,
which is indivisible, embracing all citizens equally, no matter their ancestry. Barbara
goes further and asserts that the Turks had done something more that strikes most
Westerners as utterly incongruous: the y created and, elected civilian government, but
they made the Turkish military the guardian of their constitution, giving it the power to
depose civilian rulers who violate its basic tenets, a power the military has exercised
three times since 1950. She continues to elaborate the role of this Turkish phenomenon by
adding that "all these military takeovers were brief and bloodless and each time ,
the military voluntarily returned power to an elected civilian government."
She disagrees with the notion that this action of the Turkish military is reminiscent of
despotism. She claims, and quite correctly, that therein lies the secrets of the Turkish
democracy. Barbara Lerner is able to distinguish the role of the Turkish military and
separatre its functions from the garden variety of Banana republics' concept of military
dictatorships whose only desire is pecuniary and completely devoid of sincere nationalism
behind their actions.
All in all Barbara Lerner was endowed by her creator with a lucid and brilliant mind,
succeeding where others have miserably failed in assessing the values of the Turkish
democracy. The Turks may not claim that they had invented the concept of
"democracy" themselves, but all indications point to the success they have in
handling it better than those who claim that they did, and Barbara Lerner's words fortify
and solidify our view. Thank you, Ms. Lerner. We are in your debt.