Monday, August 27, 2007

The Levant

"These countries were so small! One of the more marvelous atrocities of our time was the way in which the self-created problems of these countries, and their arrogant way of dealing with them, made them seem larger, like an angry child standing on its tiptoes. They were expensive to operate, too; they had vast armies; they indulged in loud and ridiculously long-winded denunciations of their neighbors. All this contributed to the illusion that they were massive. But no, they were tiny, irritating, shameless, and vindictive; and they occupied the world's attention way out of proportion to their size or importance. They had been magnified by lobbyists and busybody groups. Inflation was the theme here, and it was just another tactic for quarrelsome people to avoid making peace."
--Paul Theroux, The Pillars of Hercules


The Neutralist said...

Yeah, we throw away a lot of worthless doctoral dissertations, think tank papers and even maybe textbooks. That paragraph says it all, or at least a hell of a lot.

Anonymous said...

The story continues: even as we blog, those fascists of the Turkish Army are plotting to deprive the Turks of their democratic right to be ruled by an Islamicist, anti-Ataturk, anti-sectarian government.
If the military fail and the government manages to establish a new Turkey, patterned on Iran, then at least the West can sit back and - in time-honoured fashion - let the two sides tear each other apart (or, perhaps, combine and REALLY give the Western world something to think about).

Black Sea said...


I believe it was Richard Nixon who once advised a fellow politician more or less along the following lines:

"Don't try to do anything about the Middle East, because there's nothing to be done about the Middle East."

In comparison to the current Chief Exectuive, Nixon's wisdom begins to shine.


The current situation in Turkey is a tricky, and an interesting, one. Perhaps you will provide an extended view of the Turkish political situation on your website. Just make sure you don't say anything that might offend "Turkishness."

Black Sea said...


Do you wish to leave your latest comment here?

Anonymous said...

AhHa,so you have disabled your disabling device?
I shall comment later.

Anonymous said...

Strange that you should mention the 'impending meltdown of the Turkish experiment with modernity' - as one, somewhat over-stimulated, TV commentator expressed it.

Since I have recently had the dubious pleasure of watching an almost constant stream of misinformed and VERY imaginative
'experts' summarise Turkey's political woes (during which, words such as 'bloodbath', 'upsurge', 'extremists','terrorism' and 'fascist' were tossed around in a quite cavalier fashion),I was rather disappointed when the rioting I had been primed to expect failed to materialise on the streets of Ankara!
In view of all the nonsense being spouted, I felt that it was time to try to set at least some of the record straight.

While I don't have the kudos of any of the big name reporters and analysts, I claim one advantage over such stars; I have been (and am) in Turkey and I do speak to normal Turkish citizens, rather than the government and opposition spokesmen who are regularly wheeled into TV studios in order to impress the viewers with their (and the interviwer's) erudition.

The results of my deliberations will - I hope - be up on my website by weekend.

Here, it should be noted that teaching for the new semester begins in 10 days; that personal preparations necessary for the start of teaching are far from complete and that, in order to post my essay on the website, I should need to neglect my professional duties. (It follows that the website will be updated)!

As always, I would welcome argument, agreement/disagreement,
comment (supportive or otherwise), or questions. Bear in mind that - to some extent - my hands are tied, so that it may be expedient for me to be rather less vitriolic than would normally be the case; but anyway, to anyone interested in matters Turkish it should be worth a cursory glance at least.

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