The US should stand with the Turkish people

Reuters

Protesters sing and shout slogans during a demonstration at Taksim Square in Istanbul June 5, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • Turkey’s strength is its people, and it's with the people that the United States should stand.

    Tweet This

  • If Turkey is to be a model, Obama should speak to the importance of free speech, a free press, and free association.

    Tweet This

  • Turkey was a tinderbox in need of a spark. By attacking demonstrators, Erdogan lit a match.

    Tweet This

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The New York Times' Room for Debate in response to the question: How should the United States respond to the Turkish government's reaction to dissent?

Tear gas continues to waft over Istanbul’s mosques and malls as protests have spread to dozens of cities. What began as a sit-in against the destruction of a small park has morphed into a country-wide revolt against authoritarianism. Turks have reason to be angry: Where liberals once applauded Erdogan’s efforts to rein in the Turkish military, he soon showed his vendettas would not stop there: minorities, secularists, and women all found themselves targets of his ire. Press freedom is in free fall. Turkey was a tinderbox in need of a spark. By attacking demonstrators, Erdogan lit a match.
"Turkey’s strength is its people, and it's with the people that the United States should stand." -Michael Rubin
The “Turkish Spring” puts President Barack Obama in a tough spot. Hosting Erdogan at the White House last month, Obama was effusive. “This visit reflects the importance that the United States places on our relationship with our ally, Turkey, and I value so much the partnership that I've been able to develop with Prime Minister Erdogan.” Never before has an American president struck up such friendship with a Turkish leader. In a January 2012 interview, Obama singled out Erdogan as among those leaders with whom he was able to forge "bonds of trust.”

Such trust is unwarranted. Erdogan is antagonistic to the United States, its values, and its goals. He has shown support for Hamas and helped Iran evade sanctions. As he visited the White House, Erdogan’s government seized a local conglomerate's media assets.

Turkey’s strength is its people, and it's with the people that the United States should stand. If Turkey is to be a model, Obama should speak to the importance of free speech, a free press, and free association. No election victory should put a leader above the law. Obama has a bully pulpit; if he truly cares about Turkey’s future, he will use it.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael
Rubin

What's new on AEI

Holder will regret his refusal to obey the Constitution
image 'Flood Wall Street' climate protesters take aim at their corporate allies
image 3 opportunities for better US-India defense ties
image Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America's new man at the United Nations?
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 29
    MON
  • 30
    TUE
  • 01
    WED
  • 02
    THU
  • 03
    FRI
Thursday, October 02, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Campbell Brown talks teacher tenure

We welcome you to join us as Brown shares her perspective on the role of the courts in seeking educational justice and advocating for continued reform.

Friday, October 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Harnessing the power of markets to tackle global poverty: A conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz

AEI welcomes you to this Philanthropic Freedom Project event, in which Novogratz will describe her work investing in early-stage enterprises, what she has learned at the helm of Acumen, and the role entrepreneurship can play in the fight against global poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.