December 2008 Archives

Ibrahim Kalin  |  December 1, 2008 10:16 AM

Turkey's Powerplay: Bridging The West and the Middle East

One of the most dramatic celebrations of Barack Obama's election as president took place neither in Obama's ancestral village Nyangoma Kogelo, Kenya nor in Chicago, Illinois but in the Turkish village of Cavustepe near the Turkish-Iranian border. The villagers sacrificed 44 sheep in honor of Mr. Obama as the 44th president of the United States. One villager said Obama represents hope not for only for Americans but for all people around the world. He was giving voice to a sentiment shared by millions outside the US.

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 |  December 4, 2008 4:19 PM

Turkish-American Relations Could Chill Come January

Perhaps the entire world has faith that Barack Obama's historic victory will redefine U.S. foreign policy and fix the blemished image of the country abroad. However, there is one nation - in fact a close NATO ally - that has reservations: Turkey.

During his visit to Columbia University in November, I got a chance to ask the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whether he has concerns about Barack Obama's close stance to the acceptance of what Mr. Erdogan calls "the incidents of 1915" as genocide.

While congratulating Mr. Obama's victory, Mr. Erdogan sent a critical message to the president-elect. He reiterated his expectation from the new administration to pay attention to Turkish sensitivities regarding the issue, for the sake of bilateral relations.

Turkey believes that deaths resulted from inter-communal conflicts and such events were common occurrence during World War I. Therefore, the country strongly rejects the Armenian view, which claims that over a million Armenians were systematically massacred by the Ottoman Empire. Armenians commemorate the genocide every year in April, which always proves to be a difficult month for Turkish foreign policy.

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 |  December 10, 2008 1:17 PM

Responding to Aaron Miller

Dear Aaron Miller:

Back in the 1990s, you were the first senior diplomat I ever met. In the years since, you have been a mentor, friend and an example of American diplomacy at its best. Your book on U.S. Middle East peacemaking ("The Much Too Promised Land") is searingly honest and breathtakingly incisive.

Only in this context can I explain the sadness and alarm I felt upon reading your Washington Post op-ed "Start with Syria". If I believed that your basic thesis - that the U.S. should put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the backburner - was merely mistaken, I would have saved my response for one of our periodic talks. But as an appeal to President Obama, it is more than wrong. It is dangerous.

You base your analysis on the argument that the Israeli and Palestinian body politics are too dysfunctional, and Israelis and Palestinians too divided on the core issues, to warrant making a priority of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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 |  December 10, 2008 1:44 PM

Crisis in India Shows Us the True Recession

This piece is a response to the PostGlobal discussion, which asks, "If the current global recession gets worse, which countries or regions will it destabilize? Is there a way out?"

"Current" global recession? It really depends to whom you're talking. Certainly not the three billion people in the world, living on less than $2.50 a day. For them, there's nothing current about the global recession. For them, it's always been ongoing; it's almost a way of life.

That the lifestyles of the world's wealthy have been hit does not mean that the world at large is experiencing a current global recession. You have only to ask the really poor.

It's just like that "luxury connection" to the Bombay terror attacks. And it goes well beyond the lush interiors of the Taj Mahal Hotel still standing majestically, despite the senseless tragedy it had to endure last week.

It also goes beyond the possibly fake Versace T-shirt worn by the young gunman pausing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, before he continued his indiscriminate killing spree.

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Guest Voice  |  December 19, 2008 11:50 AM

U.S., Iran Both Need an Attitude Change

By Richard W. Murphy

As she prepares for her role as Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Obama foreign policy team should consider how a new American-Iranian relationship might advance American interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and conceivably even the Arab-Israeli peace process.

This will not be easy. Thirty years have passed since the Iranian Revolution without formal diplomatic relations or any sustained dialogue between Washington and Tehran, and mutual suspicion remains entrenched.

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Guest Voice  |  December 26, 2008 12:39 PM

Bhutto's Pakistan, A Year On

By Shuja Nawaz

Earlier this month, as I drove past the spot where Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Murree Road near Liaquat Garden in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, I thought of how much had happened since that tragic evening. She had returned, against the advice of many friends, to a violent and fractious Pakistan because she felt that her presence was key to the restoration of democracy in her homeland. I knew that road well. Decades earlier I used to turn there on to College Road, on my way to the neighboring Gordon College. Many of Gordon College student demonstrations for democracy in 1968 crashed into the police barricades at that spot.

Those were Halcyon Days compared to what Pakistan is now going through. A year after her much-foretold death, Ms. Bhutto's Pakistan is wracked by political turmoil and economic uncertainty. It is relying on the world to bail it out again. Yet the answers to its problems lie inside Pakistan. Unless Pakistan settles the wars within and coalesces around its political center, it faces a bleak future and risk of foreign intervention. This is the challenge facing its fledgling civilian government. The world must help it succeed.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.