Letter to the Editor: Scholar or Bush Administration Spokesperson?

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A frequent consultant to the U.S. State Department, Professor Henri Barkey sounded more like the hawks in the Bush administration than an independent scholar in a lecture at the Middle East Center on March 26.

The main theme of his talk was that the Turkish parliament’s decision to deny the United States the opportunity to set up a northern front in Iraq spelled disaster for Turkish democracy, a view so extreme and rare that it is hardly shared by anyone other than a few neo-conservative ideologues in the Bush administration.

As a recent article in the Financial Times discussed (March 25: “America Lost Turkey Before War Started”), by now a growing consensus in Washington holds the bullying tactics of Cheney and Rumsfeld responsible for alienating Turkey and thus forfeiting the much needed northern front in Iraq.

Given its economic dependence on the United States and vulnerable economy it is plausible that Turkey can be made to pay a stiff price for its recalcitrance. However, those who take it for granted that Turkey will pay a price take a very cynical view of the United States, a view that suggests that it is only interested in setting up client states rather than democracies.

Korkut Erturk

Associate Professor and Chair,