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US Fury on ‘Anti Americanism’ in Turkey

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Every day an article appears in US media about Turkey which accuses Turkish government and media of conspiring about America and feeding anti Americanism in Turkey.



According to neo-con American media and think-tanks, majority of Turkish people have become anti-American in recent years and this trend is rising day by day. According to the neo-cons Turkish people have become anti American because Turkish government is Islamic and Turkish media, particularly Islamic one, steaming hatred against Americans in Turkey.

Those assumptions need clarification and close examination.

First of all, do Turkish people hate Americans?

There has been number of surveys conducted recently in Turkey to find out what the reality is. According to very recent survey which was conducted by Poll Mark Company, Turkish people do not hate Americans but overwhelming majority of the Turkish people do not approve President George W. Bush’s policies.

According to the Poll Mark Survey, % 81.5 of respondents is not happy about Bush’s policies compare to only % 5.6 approves president Bush. On the other hand, % 64 of respondents has no problem for choosing an American neighbor in next door. This is a very significant result, considering that Turkish people are very choosy about their neighbors. Poll Mark finds out another significant result by asking marriage preference: In Turkey marriage parameters are very important to find out public attitude and feelings. It won’t be exaggeration if one suggests that Turks are obsessed about their marriage preferences in particular they do not allow their children to marry with foreigners. With these in mind   % 37.3 of respondents do not mind getting married with Americans. This is very high percent, even regional preferences inside Turkey plays a big role in terms of marriage.

Another public poll conducted by Ankara-based Turkish think tank ISRO (International Strategic Research Organization) indicates that 74 % of Turkish people still perceive US as a “strategic ally”.

Only 16 % of the whole contenders defined themselves as ‘anti American’, but a timid 4%  of the respondents dislike American people. Consequently, it is clear that Turkish people do not hate American people, but anti Americanism is slightly higher compared to former.

The most significant result of the survey is about George W. Bush’s policies, where 91 % of respondents disapprove Bush’s policies, compared to the previous president Bill Clinton who has a 49 % full (41 %) and partially (8 %) approval rate.

ISRO Survey also confirms that Bill Clinton had the highest approval with 69 % regarding world peace and security. It can be argued that Turkish people are concerned about American foreign policies (particularly regarding Turkey and the region) and their attitudes are shaped in the light of these policies.

It is obvious that the some US analysts about Turkey are on wrong track in suggesting that there is a widespread anti American feelings in Turkey. Also as a clear indication of the misjudgments of some American analysts about “anti Americanism in Turkey” is the survey result on the reason of opposition to the American policies where 75 % of the respondents see the biggest problem to Turkish-American relations is the American attitude towards PKK terror organization in Northern Iraq.

There is no widespread anti Americanism in Turkey, however there is a level of hostile feelings against American administration. This feeling has been fueled by American policies towards the PKK and most recently the assumptions of use of Armenian allegations as a carrot and stick policy against Turkey.

One must realize that the problem between Turkey and US is not cultural, social, economic and “love and hate relation” between the communities but Turkish public’s disapproval of the US government policies.

When this relationship is understood from this perspective and analyzed in this ground, than there is a real chance to work on and build a stable and sustainable relationship between two parties.

So what the Turkish people does not like about Bush’s polices? First one is American tolerance to radical Kurds. Every public survey evidently put the former president Bill Clinton top of the polls as Turkey’s friend in contrast to president Bush on bottom of the polls in Turkey.

So what is the different? President Clinton did what a strategic ally would do and help Turkey to apprehend PKK terror organization leader Abdullah Öcalan.

On the other hand President Bush prevented Turkey to carry out military operation against this notorious terror organization and although Turkey has fully supported American declaration of ‘war against terrorism’ and send a military personnel to Afghanistan.

 Turkey did not fully cooperate with the US over Iraq where many European countries also did not cooperate with US. However Turkey did a lot for Bush administration even in Iraqi case; every day thousands of Turkish lorry drivers traveled to war zone with the expense of endangering their life, many Turkish businessmen and workers also supported the US with their very needy logistics, and Turkey also opened her air corridor to US planes, just to mention a few amongst so many.

Ironically Bush administration is not satisfied with these afford and many Turkish people believes that Turkey is being punished for not helping the US in its invasion of Iraq. On the one hand Bush administration is so keen on democracy; on the other hand they are not happy with democratically elected governments’ policies. Democracy needs more effort to convince your counterpart over your policies. Relationship between democracies is also must be based on common benefit rather than dictating one sides policy. 

Some American intellectuals need to look at the cultural, social and historical backgrounds of the Turkish people to understand the public tendency towards Americans and US administration.

 For this respect, authors whom writing about Turkey and analyzing the Turkish public must bear in mind that, there is not such overwhelming hatred towards any nation in Turkish history. Through out the Turkish history there has been coexistence, tolerance and harmony in Anatolia. Turkish civilization is also one of the best examples of different nations living together in peaceful manner looking back to Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East. Therefore a nation with these characteristics and background may never show any sign of hatred. Even the timid anti American group is the result of deaf and blind virtues of American policies.

Another point to be noted is that the Turkish government has made great efforts to normalize Turkish-American relations since the Iraq War while the US Government just accuses the Turkish Government and media.

The American image in Turkey could not be restored by just blaming Turkish public, government and media. The Americans need to listen what Turks say. They do not hate the Americans, but they disapprove the Americans deal with the Middle East and Turkey. This is a best outcome of Turkish democratic experience and richness, as US has been trying to promote and mention as a model Muslim democracy

Created by anita
Last modified 2005-05-25 06:21 AM

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