With the steady decline of our selected ally Gen. Pervez Musharraf's ability to govern Pakistan and the growing alienation of the Turkish people and government from their longtime ally the United States, it is fair to say that from the Bosporus to the Himalayas, American interests continue to decline, while American policy drifts. It is ironic, if not mordant, to observe that in that zone, our policy in Iraq stands out as holding more promise for success than most of the other policies we are attempting. This week, let me consider why we are losing Turkey.
The unfolding estrangement of the Turkish people (and derivatively, the Turkish government) had been predicted and virtually unnoticed by Washington until last week. This tragic event needs to be understood thoroughly by the United States and the West because it goes to the core of our theory of how to defeat radical Islam.
About three years ago, as then-editorial page editor of The Washington Times, I hired a leading Turkish correspondent in Washington, Tulin Daloglu. She was -- and is -- a superb student of Turkish culture and politics, a secularist, a friend and admirer of America and a Turkish patriot. I asked her to describe in her column each week what the Turkish people and government were thinking, particularly about American policies and actions. I thought more attention both in Congress and the administration was needed on Turkish attitudes and American-Turkish policy.
I was deeply concerned that Turkish attitudes were slipping dangerously away from us, despite Turkey being our strongest Muslim ally in the Middle East and the model for how Israel and the West could establish a modus vivendi with a major Muslim country. Turkey has been both taken for granted and ignored by Washington for years.
In Congress, the well-organized Greek- and Armenian-American communities had a stronger voice than the Turkish-American community. And, of course, for historic reasons, Greek-Americans and Armenian-Americans usually oppose various Turkish policies. The administration's peevement with Turkey for not permitting our 4th Armored Division to enter Iraq through Turkey in 2003 led to a failure to attend carefully to a decaying relationship with our great ally. For about two years, the State Department barely communicated in a significant way -- on a policy basis -- with Turkey.
To read Daloglu's columns in The Washington Times these past years is to read week by week the sad, objective chronicle of the loss of a vital ally.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.