Foreign Affairs

What Turks really think about the Arab uprising

Washington Times Communities
ISTANBUL, February 5, 2011

I'm being asked by everyone I know how Turkey is responding to the uprising in Egypt. The assumption in the question is that Turks must be really be quite interested in these events.

The assumption is dead wrong.

Agents of Influence

Book Review: The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance that Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East, by Mitchell Bard

National Review, January, 2011

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in 2007. Its arguments are by now familiar; actually, they were always familiar: powerful, disloyal Jews; too many of them; bad for America. The book was, predictably and drearily, a best-seller.

Ottoman Fantasies

Extracts published by Michael Totten in Pajamas Media
FALL 2010

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first major world leader to congratulate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the wake of Iran’s fraudulent elections. “There is no doubt he is our friend,” he insists, dismissing Western anxieties about Iran’s nuclear program as “gossip.” He has invited Hamas to Ankara, feted Sudan’s genocidal President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, and almost in the same breath harangued Israeli President Shimon Peres at Davos for “knowing well how to kill.”

Weimar Istanbul

Dread and exhilaration in a city on the verge of political catastrophe

Autumn 2010

Istanbul Dispatch: Press Freedom Alla Turca


In May, a ship full of civilians — but not full of humanitarian aid — sailed from Turkey to join the Free Gaza flotilla. Having warned the Mavi Marmara that it would not be allowed to breach the blockade, Israeli commandos raided the ship. In the clash, nine Turks were killed. I've lived in Istanbul for five years and I've spoken to hundreds of Turks about these events. A Turkish documentary filmmaker and I have filmed some of these conversations. Something will immediately strike the viewer: the Turkish people have no idea what happened. This is because the most basic facts about and surrounding these events have not been reported in Turkey.

Smile and Smile: Turkey's Feel-Good Foreign Policy

World Affairs Journal
July/August 2010

As the First General Law of Travel tells us, every nation is its stereotype. Americans are indeed fat and overbearing, Mexicans lazy and pilfering, Germans disciplined and perverted. The Turks, as everyone knows, are insane and deceitful. I say this affectionately. I live in Turkey. On good days, I love Turkey. But I have long since learned that its people are apt to go berserk on you for no reason whatsoever, and you just can’t trust a word they say. As one Turkish friend put it (a man who has spent many years in America, and thus grasps the depth of the cultural chasm), “It’s not that they’re bad. They don’t even know they’re lying.”

Ban the Burqa

August 16, 2010


I moved here five years ago. In the beginning, I was sympathetic to the argument that Turkey’s ban on headscarves in universities and public institutions was grossly discriminatory. I spoke to many women who described veiling themselves as an uncoerced act of faith. One businesswoman in her mid-30s told me that she began veiling in high school, defying her secular family. Her schoolteacher gasped when she saw her: “If Atatürk could see you now, he would weep!” Her pain at the memory of the opprobrium she had suffered was clearly real.

A Visit Inside Turkey's Islamist IHH

A trip to the headquarters of the extremist group that sponsored the Mavi Marmara.

June 21, 2010


The street outside the IHH, the Turkish organization that recently dispatched the Mavi Marmara to its sanguinary fate in the eastern Mediterranean, suggests a hopeful world of multi-ethnic and religious harmony. Men and women in various forms of secular and religious dress—beards, clean-shaven, headscarves, burqas—walk in and out of the building in urgent conversation with Africans in dashikis, Swedes in stained proletarian-wear, anti-Zionist rabbis sweating nervously in black suits and payot. A gangly teenager strolls by in a T-shirt that reads, “Virgins required: No experience necessary.” It isn’t clear whether he’s off-message, highly ironic, or yet another Turkish kid who bought a T-shirt he didn’t quite understand.

Can Sarah Palin style herself as Thatcher's second coming?

Both attractive women from Nowhere Fancy exploited their femininity. But only one could command an interview.

The Guardian
15 June 2010

Visiting Margaret Thatcher is a traditional rite among Republican presidential aspirants – Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney all pitched up on her doorstep in 2008. But Sarah Palin, who announced on her Facebook site this week that she hopes to secure a meeting with "one of my political heroines, the 'Iron Lady'," has a more obvious claim to be Thatcher's heir. She's an attractive woman from Nowhere Fancy, just as Thatcher was, and snobs deplore her for it, just as they deplored Thatcher.

That said, if Palin hopes to style herself as the second coming she has a few things to learn.

Murky in Turkey

What we don’t know about the Mavi Marmara incident: just about everything.

3 June 2010

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