Commentary by Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan  
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Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan has been the rare, tireless voice in the United States, putting up his dukes in the sea of Turcophobes for many years. Here is a commentary that appeared somewhere on the Internet.



"Will Europe say yes to Turkey in December? (some) think they should but won't, (they) may be right .

But with or without continental Europe's condescending blessing, Turkey is the best model the Muslim world has, and in trying to help other Muslim states follow her lead , it would make sense to look past the lofty constitutional rhetoric so many despotic states adopt and ignore, and take a harder look at the role and training of their military officers."

Those were the meaningful words with which Barbara Lerner, a well-respected free-lance writer with whom the Chicago area readers as well as others all over the United States have became accustomed to expect from her. With that courageous paragraph she ended her refreshing article about Turkey and Turks. Her free-lance column published on the NRO, National Review Online was quite out of the ordinary Barbara Lerner's piece entitled "THE SECRETS OF TURKISH DEMOCRACY" comes as close to be the friendliest endorsement, to date, on Turkey, the most maligned country on the face of the earth today.

Many articles have been written , in the past, concerning this inequity which has existed from time immemorial. No one before dared to use what Barbara Lerner used in her recent article bearing the above-mentioned title and call Turkey: "The only Muslim democracy in the Mideast . Most writers show the State of Israel as the only example on this subject .She very aptly professes that, usually, this is "a region where "democracy" means one-man-one-vote -one-time." She asks "How has Turkey's republic managed to survive for 79 years?

Barbara is successful in her analysis of the political equation better than many others have dared to do before her. She is decidedly replete with quite a different sort of reasoning compared with that of other writers who have tried their hand at the process. Barbara says that Turkey with her record of 79 years of sustaining democracy is not only holding a record in the Mideast, but her democracy is longer than any comparably democratic regime in France, Belgium or Germany, three countries, she says, currently beset by doubt about whether Turkey is a fit candidate for the European Union.

Barbara's words are not only to be regarded as encouraging pronouncements for all Turks who read her column, but they are also regarded as a bit of fresh air, amid the stagnated hypocritical pabulum generating from the member states of the said European Union. The courage of Ms. Lerner is obvious. She has what the French call that "je ne sais quoi" quality in her convictions that Turkey is equipped to meet European 'allegedly' high moral and political standards.


Barbara Lerner seems to have succeeded in her interpretation on how Turkish people regard their military as the staunch defender of the founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. She says: "The Turkish military is the great secret of Turkish democracy. She likens the role of the military on the Turkish scene to the function that the Supreme Court plays in the U.S' governance system. This analysis of hers reminds me of one of my past articles with the title of: "TURKS' LOVE AFFAIR WITH THEIR MILITARY, the Defenders and Protectors of Turkish Independence and Secularism." This article penned in 1996 had similar arguments on the same theme. Since it reiterated Barbara Lerners philosophy on this very subject I'd like to repeat here a paragraph taken from my own work of some time ago. It had said the following: "When the mere mention of the word 'military' brings a resounding dislike to the minds of just about everybody in the world, the very same word may have a soothing and reassuring effect on the psyche of the ordinary Turk. His respect of the military has always been reciprocated by the Turkish Armed Forces. The common man in the hinterland, the people of the countryside, the farmer, the villager have always shown great affinity as well as respect for them.

For thousands of years, at least since the rise of Sparta in ancient Greece, which triggered the Pelloponesian Wars, nothing has been so disruptive to world order as the friction which comes with the rise of military powers. As the Turkish-friendly Barbara Lerner implies, one such power was the Ottoman Empire, and from its earlier days, it existed because of its military preparedness and above all the Turks' unquestionable prowess in their military campaigns.

Ms. Lerner. We are in your debt.

Barbara Lerner , nevertheless, contends that the Ottoman Sultans did not wield the absolute power of a Stalin or any other similarly despotic Oriental potentate such as a name which is constantly in the news today, Saddam Hussein of Iraq. While trying to explain why Turks embraced the concept, the idea of democracy, when other nations surrounding her failed to do so, she says "Turks, had a long-established and quite elaborate array of intermediate institutions-in short, a civil society." Her reference to the dramatic, come-from-behind victory of the Turkish forces led by Kemal Ataturk is worthy of praise. Turkey is one nation, she professes, which is indivisible, embracing all citizens equally, no matter their ancestry. Barbara goes further and asserts that the Turks had done something more that strikes most Westerners as utterly incongruous: the y created and, elected civilian government, but they made the Turkish military the guardian of their constitution, giving it the power to depose civilian rulers who violate its basic tenets, a power the military has exercised three times since 1950. She continues to elaborate the role of this Turkish phenomenon by adding that "all these military takeovers were brief and bloodless and each time , the military voluntarily returned power to an elected civilian government."

She disagrees with the notion that this action of the Turkish military is reminiscent of despotism. She claims, and quite correctly, that therein lies the secrets of the Turkish democracy. Barbara Lerner is able to distinguish the role of the Turkish military and separatre its functions from the garden variety of Banana republics' concept of military dictatorships whose only desire is pecuniary and completely devoid of sincere nationalism behind their actions.

All in all Barbara Lerner was endowed by her creator with a lucid and brilliant mind, succeeding where others have miserably failed in assessing the values of the Turkish democracy. The Turks may not claim that they had invented the concept of "democracy" themselves, but all indications point to the success they have in handling it better than those who claim that they did, and Barbara Lerner's words fortify and solidify our view. Thank you, Ms. Lerner. We are in your debt.




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