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The Third World War
October 12, 2005 4:28 PM   Subscribe

"The year is 2010 and the European Union has rejected Turkey. Fascist governments have come to power in Germany, Austria and France and are inciting violence against resident Turks and Muslims. A vengeful Turkey joins forces with Russia and declares war against the EU. Turkish commandos besiege Berlin, obliterate Europe and take control of the Continent.

"Some critics will be quick to dismiss 'The Third World War,' a new futuristic novel by a 30-year-old Turkish writer, Burak Turna, as the wild imaginings of a conspiracy theorist and literary shock jock - and in many ways it is."

Turna is also the author of Metal Storm, which revolves around a US invasion of Turkey. Both books have been runaway best-sellers.
posted by brundlefly (52 comments total)

 
"Turks are getting fed up with the EU's constant demands" to stop being so, well, Turkish. And they aren't demands so much as suggestions to stop torturing people, including young teenagers, in police custody while playing loud pop music to drown out the screams. That and the fact that Turkey has a lot if Islamic fundamentalists
of the "I KEEL YOU! I KEEL YOU! DEATH TO THE INFIDELS! variety who want to take power and start chopping off heads and hands and stoning women accused of trying to control their bodies and destinies.
posted by longsleeves at 5:35 PM on October 12, 2005


A vengeful Turkey joins forces with Russia and declares war against the EU.

Good luck.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 5:37 PM on October 12, 2005


Also, if the Turks are so patriotic, why is every ghetto in Europe full of Islamic Turks?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 5:38 PM on October 12, 2005


I've thought about it... and I don't buy it. Russia has a Muslim problem 10x more severe than anything Europe is dealing with. Remember that little provence of Chechnya? The Russians have no ally in the Islamic world.

Furthermore, five years really isn't that much time. That's the distance between now and when Bush first won. While geostrategic outlook and policy have changed dramatically, not all that much else has. We still have roughly the same number of troops, ships, and airplanes today as we had when Clinton was in office. It would take much longer for Turkey and Russia to arm to any level capable of offensive output.

Turkey spends $12.1b (5.3%) on defense annually and Russia is at $18b. Germany alone spends $30.5b (1.5% GDP) and those pacifist French another $45b (2.6%). Germany and France, already doubly outspending them, could also afford a significant boost in wartime spending (as a percentage of GDP).

Much, much later down the road I could see something like this emerging when the demographic makeup of Europe transforms itself from lilly white to that shady color of skin... perhaps I could see an extremely useful fifth column of repressed Muslims taking arms against their home governments as whites try to stay in power as minorities.
posted by trinarian at 5:40 PM on October 12, 2005


Tom Clancy books are bestsellers too.
posted by smackfu at 5:48 PM on October 12, 2005


Only a Turkish man could reasonably see a way Turkey could overtake the EU.

Aside from the utter ridiculousness of a Turkey-Russia alliance, there's the technological advantage, the sheer spending advantage, the pure numbers of Europeans, and the little fact that even if America likes to call France a bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys, most administrations will gladly send our boys off to kill as long as it doesn't mean a support-killing draft.

Not to mention if there's any sort of institutional anti-Muslim violence in Europe, it's beyond likely that America will be well ahead of that little curve and have nuked any nation that dares call itself Islamic.

Probably makes for a thrilling read though.
posted by Saydur at 5:54 PM on October 12, 2005


I remember when my friends from Byzantium used to tell me the Turks were nothing to worry about . . .
posted by rdone at 5:57 PM on October 12, 2005


Why aren't you guys letting Turkey in? It seems like they are a vital bridge to the Muslim world, being 1/2 and 1/2, and they want in. You let those poor Eastern European/ex-Iron Curtain countries in, and more are coming in, no? (and that books sounds really interesting--stranger things have certainly happened)
posted by amberglow at 6:46 PM on October 12, 2005


"Even if there are no guns, the EU's decision to turn its back on Turkey will create a cultural war between Islam and the West."

He's right about that.
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on October 12, 2005


Why aren't you guys letting Turkey in?

Blatant human rights violations, mostly.
At least that's the official reason.

I can imagine that general disinclination to getting one of the most volatile and violent regions of the world (i.e. the middle east) inside one's borders play a large role as well.
Turkey is bordering on Iraq and is in constant conflict with the USA-backed Kurds in the border-region. This is one fight the EU, which is almost entirely without a common defence strategy, is not prepared to pick at this time.

Then there's the fact that most of Turkey isn't actually in Europe (it's called the European Union, after all) and Turkey is a large, very poor country.
Comparing Turkey to recent EU inductees such as Romaina isn't really fair - Turkey has a huge deficit and almost no foreign investment while Romania is booming, possibly the fastest growing economy in Europe even before it was accepted for EU membership.

While the possibilty of those evil russkies and the barbaric muslims teaming up might sound plausible (in the same way the plot of a Vin Diesel movie sounds 'plausible) from the perspective of america, I cannot imagine that happening.
Russia is, after all, fighting a muslim insurgency (or is it war? It's getting hard to tell these days) in Chechnya, with all that entails of suicide bombings, school sieges and plane hijackings.
posted by spazzm at 7:44 PM on October 12, 2005


[...] Turna, who added that none of his works have been published abroad due to his incendiary themes.

Or maybe his works haven't been published abroad because they are, by the looks of it, masturbatory revenge-fantasies for Turkish nationalists. Nah.
posted by spazzm at 8:03 PM on October 12, 2005


Blatant human rights violations are not just a Turkey thing. I betcha Georgia will get in someday, and they boil people.

Turkey is in Europe, and straddles both worlds. As opposed the rotten record of assimilation many countries already in the EU have, they're not doing so badly. If Germany can have multiple generations of Turkish "guest workers" (or whatever they're called now, without giving them citizenship,) then don't be surprised when people see racism and ethnocentrism and hostility is engendered. Turks are good enough to come work in the EU, but not to be part of it? That's just wrong--on many levels. I think countries already in the EU need to look to the future--your future is in Turkey and other countries where people don't look or act like you, and that's ok. You won't be able to maintain anything close to your current standard of living without "the other"--birthrates are some of the lowest in the world in the EU.
posted by amberglow at 8:03 PM on October 12, 2005


And this kind of thing in Melilla is a growing problem and it makes you guys look really bad to your neighbors right outside the EU.
posted by amberglow at 8:08 PM on October 12, 2005


How many copies of Left Behind have been sold? That book is based on gigantic leaps of logic as well. Escapist thriller, mixed with tapping into the conciousness of mentally lazy people that desperately want their worldview to be right. More power to the author and the bags of money he sleeps on every night.
posted by my sock puppet account at 8:12 PM on October 12, 2005


"I think countries already in the EU need to look to the future--your future is in Turkey [...]"

Care to elaborate?
posted by spazzm at 8:16 PM on October 12, 2005


How many copies of Left Behind have been sold?

See, that's real scary shit. No one cares much whether Turkey, who can scarcely project military force within its own borders, starts having paranoid delusions. But a USA convinced that the endtimes are near and that they are God's chosen people would be a real problem.
posted by spazzm at 8:22 PM on October 12, 2005


You're not having enough babies, and your population is aging. Your future depends on immigrants and bringing in younger people. Countries like Turkey have tons of younger people--most Muslim countries do. ... With life expectancy rising at the same time that fertility drops, most developed countries may soon find themselves with lopsided societies that will be nearly impossible to sustain: a large number of elderly and not enough young people working to support them. The change will affect every program -- from health care and education to pension plans and military spending -- that requires public funds.
There is no longer a single country in Europe where people are having enough children to replace themselves when they die. Italy recently became the first nation in history where there are more people over the age of 60 than there are under the age of 20. This year Germany, Greece and Spain will probably all cross the same eerie divide.
"You can look at this in a philosophical way," said Jean-Claude Chesnais, director of research at France's National Institute for the Study of Demography. No country has worried more, or more publicly, about the implications of a low birth rate. Like so many other European nations, uneasy officials there see in current trends a world where populations of color -- from Africa, India, Asia -- are still growing, while their own is struggling to keep from shrinking. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2005


People used to say that no two countries with McDonalds had ever gone to war, but that changed when the United States whent to war with Serbia.

But I will tell you this, no two countries with Nukes will ever go to war. France, England and Russia have Nukes.
posted by delmoi at 8:26 PM on October 12, 2005


How many copies of Left Behind have been sold? That book is based on gigantic leaps of logic as well. Escapist thriller, mixed with tapping into the conciousness of mentally lazy people that desperately want their worldview to be right. More power to the author and the bags of money he sleeps on every night.

Perhaps I should write a book where liberals take over the US and legalize marijuana. Should sell well with this group!
posted by delmoi at 8:28 PM on October 12, 2005


... Europeans even more wary of Muslims, especially those living within their midst. These concerns have provided fuel for xenophobic, nativist parties, helping to propel a number of them into the political mainstream.
Into this volatile mix comes the continent-wide debate over whether Turkey should be admitted into the European Union (EU). Supporters of Turkish accession scored a huge victory on December 17 when the EU’s 25 member states unanimously voted to begin formal membership negotiations with Ankara beginning in October 2005.
But Turkish membership is by no means assured. A host of issues could derail the talks. In particular, efforts by Europe’s political elite to convince a skeptical populace of the benefits of including a largely Near Eastern and Muslim country of 70 million into Europe’s grand experiment have, so far, mostly fallen flat, raising the prospect that one or more EU states could ultimately reject Turkish membership. Polls show majorities in many European countries remain opposed to Turkish accession.
The argument over Turkey goes beyond the geopolitical pluses and minuses of EU membership and raises the larger issue of Europe’s troubled relationship with Islam. It is an old acquaintance, one stretching back more than 1,300 years. And it is marked by countless wars and occupations, as well as a vibrant, steady cultural exchange. Over the last 40 or more years, though, the relationship has entered a new phase, one dominated by the largely peaceful migration of Muslims to Europe, usually in search of work or freedom. ...The successful integration of European Muslims is crucial to the future of Europe. ...
(PEW Forum: An Uncertain Road: Muslims and the Future of Europe )
posted by amberglow at 8:29 PM on October 12, 2005


spazzm writes "But a USA convinced that the endtimes are near and that they are God's chosen people would be a real problem."

Would
be?
posted by clevershark at 8:29 PM on October 12, 2005


it's a slight question of geography. no offence to the friendly southern neighbours but an eurovision song contest entry does not bona fide a european state, make. it's the E bloody U for heavens sake.

on every map since time immemorial turkey like israel isn't exactly what i'd think you'd quite normally call europe.


you might also ask yourself why isn't morocco on the waiting list. i'm sure few europeans have a problem with collaboration and partnership but it needs a new definition. 'EU' won't work in this case however hard you try. it's like saying france and belgium are part of the british isles.
posted by rodney stewart at 8:38 PM on October 12, 2005


I don't know, according to this, Turkey isn't having enough babies (1.94 pr. woman) to sustain its population without immigration.

Then there's the trickier question on why population decline is a bad thing - industrialisation means there is no need for a huge workforce to maintain a propsperous economy and high standard of living.

Currently, Europe is quite densely populated and can well use a population decrease.
Eventually the EU might go the same route as Japan, which is aiming to rely heavily on robots to compensate for its declining population.

But if your point, amberglow, is that there are lots of racists in Europe, I'll agree. There are lots of racists in Europe - but that's because there are lots of racists anywhere.
Turkey, for example, is violently oppressing its Kurdish minority - but for some reason Mr. Turna is not raising a stink about that. I guess authors that do don't sell a lot of books in Turkey.

delmoi, good catch on the nuke issue. I completely missed that.
posted by spazzm at 8:44 PM on October 12, 2005


Why aren't you guys letting Turkey in?

Besides the human rights abuses and other third-world government corruption becoming an EU member entitles a lot of benefits to EU countries. They get the EU equivalent of federal money. That means countries that are now receiving the EU money will be getting less of it and Turkey will become nothing more than a leech upon EU. Now if you look at countries like Ireland who have benefited greatly from this a good case can be made that within several decades with infrastructure support Turkey could be economically prosperous. Because Turkey is so geographically and culturally different I doubt the EU would want a monetary hit and a currency devaluation that will ensue. Note, that just because they become a EU member does not mean they will adopt the Euro, many eastern European countries are being eased into that.

Turkey may also become a military burden. What if they decide to invade a neighboring middle eastern country, or what if a middle eastern country wishes to test out this EU powerhouse and attack Turkey. They are now obligated to defend Turkey. Given the general xenophobia of Europe I doubt Turkey will come in anytime soon, with some clever political manuevering by Turkish leaders I don't see it as an impossibility either.
posted by geoff. at 8:55 PM on October 12, 2005


Metal Storm and The Third World War=The Turna Diaries
posted by rdone at 8:57 PM on October 12, 2005


How many copies of Left Behind have been sold?

Actually, for the original post I considered comparing that series with Turna's writing. Strange how genocidal overtones seem to be prerequisites for modern publishing phenomena.
posted by brundlefly at 9:15 PM on October 12, 2005


Turkish commandos besiege Berlin, obliterate Europe and take control of the Continent.

So what will the Europeans be doing while this takes place? Who by force of arms colonised much of the world, what little group of countries have been making war against each other for the last several centuries on an ever-escalating scale resulting finally in not one but, count 'em, two world wars?
posted by scheptech at 9:32 PM on October 12, 2005


Then there's the trickier question on why population decline is a bad thing - industrialisation means there is no need for a huge workforce to maintain a propsperous economy and high standard of living.
It will become hard to support the social systems they have set up as their productive, tax-paying base becomes smaller and smaller and their resource-consuming elderly population grows.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:50 PM on October 12, 2005


Amberglow: Why aren't you guys letting Turkey in?

I get the sense that a lot of Europeans of Turkish descent feel personnally rejected if Turkey would not be admitted to the EU. 'That's racism' they often say.

I disagree.

The case wether Turkey should join the EU is similar to a company merger. For all companies to agree to a merger every company should be convinced that the merger is good for the company itself. If a company does not agree to the merger, that in itself does not mean that they think employees of the other company are bad or inferior.

So if I say that I do not want Turkey to join the EU that does not mean that I think that Turks or Europeans of Turkish descent are bad or inferior or that I don't like them as a group.

I think the talks on Turkey joining the EU were started in another political climate; the cold war. The cold war is over and things have changed.
* At the moment tensions are high within the EU around political islamists. Given that situation I think it is not a good idea to add an 80 million people islamic nation to the EU.
* Portugal and Spain were ruled by dictators and joined the EU and got politically stabilized. A lot of roads and infrastructure were build, among other things, using a lot of money from the other EU states. Now 10 more states have been added. The political and economical effects of these other 10 states joining the EU will become visible in the coming 5 or 10 years. I'm convinced that EU politicians are unable to know how this is going to play out; economics and politics are not an exact science. Of these other 10 states only Poland was of a size comparable to Turkey. That's another reason why I don't think Turkey should join the EU; we need at least a decade to see how the previous additions play out.

cheers
posted by jouke at 10:59 PM on October 12, 2005


This sounds like a ridiculous book, and is certainly not representative of mainstream Turkish sentiment. I was in Turkey recently and the prevailing opinion is that while it would be good for the country to join the EU, at present this doesn't seem very likely. A large majority of European citizens, if not the politicians, are significantly opposed to the idea of Turks in Europe, this is no secret. But the process of getting closer to the EU and satisfying some of the criteria for admission will be good for Turkey from a social and cultural perspective. And I agree with the author of this work of science fiction that Turkey should court India, China and Russia, as well as maintaining ties with Israel and the countries of Islam. In other words, Turkey should fill the role granted to her by geography as geopolitical linchpin.
posted by mert at 11:06 PM on October 12, 2005


There's probably a book published every minute in the US with all kinds of outlandish theories where the US takes over various countries, or various people attack various people. It's fun to read.

As to Turkey in the EU-- Turkey has loads of cheap labor. That's the only reason I can find for why certain people doing business in the EU want Turkish membership.

Turkey is becoming more and more 'European' every day, but it still has quite a ways to go. Of course, I would say the same about some of the former Soviet-bloc countries.

The whole concept of the EU becomes more ridiculous the larger it gets. What they need is an actual incentive program which allows countries to adopt "EU values and economic pricipals" in a very clear way for membership.
posted by cell divide at 11:31 PM on October 12, 2005


If Germany can have multiple generations of Turkish "guest workers" (or whatever they're called now, without giving them citizenship,) then don't be surprised when people see racism and ethnocentrism and hostility is engendered.

Keep in mind that one reason that Turks in Germany don't elect to take German citizenship is because dual citizenship is illegal in Turkey. Turkish "guest workers" (and their families) would have to renounce all rights to citizenship and (unless the law has recently changed) property ownership in Turkey if they naturalize as German citizens. Of course, those anti-dual-citizenship laws would have to be repealed if Turkey were admitted to the EU, solving the issue.
posted by deanc at 11:40 PM on October 12, 2005


[offtopic]

What pisses me off is that I am from a commonwealth country and every single person in Europe has a smoother ride in the UK than I do. Why does Canada role out the carpet for the queen when we are given second class treatment?

[/offtopic]
posted by srboisvert at 12:34 AM on October 13, 2005


A fascist government installed in Germany. In five years. As if the German bureaucracy could get their act together that fast.

The Turks and the Russians teaming up and crushing the EU. Putting aside the fact that
  1. The Russians and the Turks are no great friends, and
  2. the EU could probably handle that itself,
there is this little thing called NATO that might alter the balance a bit.

This is not science fiction, it's science fantasy.

And for the "why not just let Turkey into the EU crowd", it's kind of like asking why the US just doesn't make Mexico a state (assuming Mexico wanted to be one). It's not something you can just do without taking dealing with a huge range of economic and social issues. Throw in the fact that the folks here in Europe regard the Turkish people the same way the folks in the US regard the Mexicans (at least here in Germany), and we are talking about something that is a lot more complicated than it seems at first blush.

At the end of the day, the EU will only do it if it benefits the EU, and they are going to look long and hard at it before they buy in.
posted by moonbiter at 1:11 AM on October 13, 2005


And yes, I am aware Turkey is a member of NATO, but if they were to go and team up with Russia (you know, the heart of the old Evil Empire NATO was formed to counterbalance) to attack their former partners, then something tells me the rest of the organization would be a bit ticked off -- including a certain superpower that, trash talk aside, knows that it has a lot more in common with Western Europe than it does with parts more easterly.
posted by moonbiter at 1:18 AM on October 13, 2005


Annual military spending of
* UK/FR/DE/IT/SP/NL/SE/PO/GR/DK/BE/PT: ~US$130M
* TR: ~$US6M

The thing about Turks is that many of them are ethnic European -- who became refugees or emigrants as the Ottoman Empire lost its Balkan territories (and then they kicked out many ethnic Turks who, you know, spoke Greek). This is part of the problem they have with the Armenians and Kurds, somehow, I suspect. Despite their history as the seat of the Caliphate, they're uncomfortable with a leading role in the Islamic world -- partly because the Arabs resent them. They also have this heritage of Byzantium. So, awkwardly, they look West. This goes back a century, really; it isn't a new development because of the success of the EU.

There are related dynamics in Morocco and Algeria, which have had long cultural and political relationships with Spain and France respectively. Despite its bloody revolution, Algiers today works very closely with Paris. Morocco is anathema to many African nations because of the Western Sahara issue (it's the only country excluded from the AU). So both are in similar positions seeking some sort of expanded relationship with the EU. I'm not sure but what if Turkey gets in, the arguments for keeping them out will wither. The idea of EU does not have to be geographic -- clearly there are people thinking about welcoming Georgia if its democratic reform continues apace. Cyprus is in, even if its Turkish third technically is not.

In a sense the only country who can really be excluded, permanently, is Russia.
posted by dhartung at 1:36 AM on October 13, 2005


Why doesn't Turkey go for the big one and join the United States?
If not, as a European, I for one welcome etc
posted by Joeforking at 1:47 AM on October 13, 2005


First, kudos to the author, that's a very clever idea for a book.

Secondly, on the topic of Turkey in the EU, if there's a level of debate that is ultimately worthless, elusive and deceitful, it's the one about culture and ethnicity and "the other" and Muslism vs non-Muslims, whatever side of the debate you take on that, the racist bigoted one or the "why can't we all be one big family" one. Despite the difference of sentiments in those positions, they're both completely off the mark. The EU is not a cultural association, it's an economic union first and a political one second. That's what the criteria for entry are about, economic and political.

True, in terms of the debate about it, rather than the specific requirements tehmselves, it's hard to cut a sharp line between politics and culture, but the debate should still be as pragmatic as possible. It makes no sense to reduce it to a question of "do you or don't you like the Turks?!". It makes no sense to even ask the question "are you in favour or against Turkey joining" if at first you don't define the parameters for that question.

Even aside from the human rights issue, economic performance matters quite a lot, especially if joining the EU means joining the euro. What geoff. said above... Many of the problems with the shift to the euro were due to the uneven economic situations even in the founding countries. Plus, there's a lot of internal opposition to some of the more neoliberalist tendencies at EU levels (see French referendum on the constitution). That's been one aspect of the debate on enlargement too. It's very convenient for those who stand to gain from those neoliberal policies - corporations, investors, etc. - if the focus is all on the cultural aspect of the debate. It's also naturally a lot more exciting to discuss at that level, but it's not really what it's all about.
posted by funambulist at 2:02 AM on October 13, 2005


Keep in mind that one reason that Turks in Germany don't elect to take German citizenship is because dual citizenship is illegal in Turkey.

It seemed obvious to me that amberglow was referring to Germany's citizenship laws before the 2000 reform, which had a very strong racial component. It was indeed the case that thousands of people born in Germany were prohibited from ever taking German citizenship because they were the wrong race.

And you have that backwards. Germany will not let you naturalize unless you formally renounce your original citizenship, unless your original country does not permit renunciation. Germany only tolerates dual nationality for people who had more than one nationality at birth.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:34 AM on October 13, 2005


Yup, what ROU said--i'm very very glad they changed that, finally. They had multiple generations of families not allowed to fully be part of Germany.

I'm for Algeria and Morocco joining up too, someday. Even Israel, altho that would never happen.

funambulist is right--and that only reinforces my belief that the reasons for denying Turkey aren't based on the right reasons. Ireland and Portugal weren't economically ready for membership, and they've done really well--and Portugal and Spain had repressive dictatorships for ages. The Eastern countries are now getting the extra money and making big structural changes--and Turkey is too.
posted by amberglow at 7:41 AM on October 13, 2005


It's amazing how many people bring forward "geography" (rather than 'real' underlying reasons why they don't want Turkey as part of EU) when arguing that Turkey doesn't belong to EU.

Considering that most scientists, including geographers, now argue that there is no Europe, but really only Eurasia, the whole point may be moot. But, for the sake of argument:

To begin with, if you can find a map, so can I:



In fact, Turkey does have a land mass on what is typically considered as the European continent. Although, it only makes up a minor portion of Turkey, it still means Turkey has a claim of being geographically in Europe, as well as in Asia (as is Russia)

MORE IMPORTANTLY, Turkey is a part of Eurovision (song contest), UEFA (sports organization), Eurocontrol (aviation), Council of Europe (politics), and NATO (defense). All of these are European organizations, with the exception of Nato, which is a European+North American organization. And since I don't think we can find anyone to argue that Turkey is a North American country, it must have been admitted as a European country.

So, Turkey is considered European when arts, sports, politics, transportation, and defense is concerned; but it is suddenly considered not European based on geography when European Union is concerned? That's simply nonsense.

So, those people that are making up this 'fake' argument, why don't we just let that issue die and discuss the real reasons Turkey is not being admitted:

1) Turkey's size - which would (a) lead it to have significant say on EU policies if it were to be admitted under the current structure; (b) cause significant cost burden on EU countries while it brings up its standards of living to an acceptable level.

2) Social and cultural differences, based particularly on religion

On (2), funambulist's agreement above of EU being a political and economic union and not a cultural union is true in theory. However, since any country in EU has veto power on the accession decision and can choose to go to a referandum for it (France and Austria have already declared this in the case of Turkey), it does become a cultural issue since the ordinary man on the street will primarily vote on the basis of cultural and social norms and not on political and economic facts.

The human rights record is a non-issue too (note: it's important, it's just not a factor in the opposition), since several reforms in this area have already been made (banning death penalty, giving minority language and broadcasting rights) and will continue to be made for the next 10-15 years before any such accession would take place. Therefore, such issues can and will be resolved in time, but not the two above.
posted by tuxster at 8:05 AM on October 13, 2005


* Portugal and Spain were ruled by dictators and joined the EU and got politically stabilized.

Just to be clear, Portugal and Spain were admitted into the EU well after their respective dictatorships had been swept into the dustbin of history.

Amberglow, someday Turkey may be part of a greater "EU", but it would be a really bad idea right now because it would cause too many problems. Not the least of which would be racist backlash from certain sectors of European society, how do you think Aznar's PP would react to an islamic country in the EU? Right now the EU needs to consolidate, create some sort of coherent system of checks and balances among the Commission and the Parliament (this was screwed by France's rejection of the Treaty for a European Constitution) and find a way to create a common identity, especially in everything pertaining to foreign policy. Adding Turkey to the mix in 2005 or even in 2015 would be like throwing a match into a powder keg.

This doesn't mean that the EU can't create a special economic relationship with countries like Turkey -- in fact this is already happening.

As far as extrapolating population demographics to predict that in 2050 (or whatever) there will be no more babies in Spain or in other European countries, these types of statistics rarely follow the same pattern over many decades to make these kinds of predictions valid. The part of Spain that I'm living in right now is being overrun by new babies, but it will take time for statistics to be recalibrated. And anyway, while I agree that immigration can be a positive trend, there are many ways to make up for any dips in population growth :)
posted by sic at 8:36 AM on October 13, 2005


"The year is 2010 and the European Union has rejected Turkey. Fascist governments have come to power in Germany, Austria and France"

Priceless. Man, it must be easy to get published in Turkey.
posted by Decani at 9:56 AM on October 13, 2005


amberglow: I think there are good reasons and not-so-purely-disinterested reasons on either side of the debate. I for one wouldn't know what to answer if there was a referendum tomorrow.

Oh well it is going to happen anyway eventually. The appearance of a debate about it is just to keep us entertained :)

tuxster: yes, you're right, I was talking about the theory because in reality the debate is sooo much about culture and that's what I dislike. It's a substitute for talking about other more pragmatic issues. I do dislike the exclusively cultural approach because Europe as is is already a mix of different cultures. Are Greece and Turkey more dissimilar than Greece and Norway? What is European in essence? Who gets to define it? It's a road that leads to drawing big lines and talking only in terms of the big abstractions - "the west", "the east", religion, etc. - instead of specific issues and realities. It plays right into the hands of populists on the one hand and on the other it distracts attention from economic interests and policies that have a lot more impact on people's lives that defining what is and isn't European.
posted by funambulist at 10:41 AM on October 13, 2005


Priceless. Man, it must be easy to get published in Turkey.

Apparently, you don't scan the best-seller list at the airport bookstores in the US much... every other political thriller involves scenarios equally outlandish.
posted by cell divide at 10:49 AM on October 13, 2005


Amberglow, someday Turkey may be part of a greater "EU", but it would be a really bad idea right now because it would cause too many problems. Not the least of which would be racist backlash from certain sectors of European society, ...

That's precisely why it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Many EU countries have growing Muslim populations that are not being integrated well at all--you're breeding big future trouble. Being afraid of the problems of letting Turkey in (and there were complaints and problems about all later entrants--especially the former Iron Curtain countries) doesn't mean that it's not a good idea--for a variety of reasons. Racism and fear of "the other" is really what it looks like from here, which is already an existing problem regarding the current status/treatment of the many Muslims already in the EU.
posted by amberglow at 6:29 PM on October 13, 2005


Yeah the point of view of racists is not a valid reason for anything, but, amberglow, how do you think the entry of Turkey would affect the integration of Muslims - fresh immigrants from several different countries, or second/third generation - in the rest of Europe? I don't see the connection. For someone living in France or England or Italy or Germany, it's not going to make a difference. It's only the local social and economic context that matters.

Anyway, it cannot happen "sooner than later", there is a specific process that's already started and it needs time, it will very likely happen but there are several steps that have been outlined. And going by degrees will also have benefits on Turkey in terms of internal reforms - from political to economic to more specific issues of human rights, equality, discrimination, etc. You can't rush something like integration of a whole country in a common market and political entity.

There are far right groups and populist parties, the same who demonise immigration and Muslims, who do have the same attitude about Turkey, but you are overstating their influence on the political debate about Turkey and the EU. The entry is supported by many conservative and economic libertarian parties too, it's not a political divide in terms of left vs right. And there are political objections based on actual political and economic issues, which are not an excuse or veil for racism, they're really separate. Even if one disagrees with those objections it's no reason to ascribe all of them to prejudice and hostility.
posted by funambulist at 3:11 AM on October 14, 2005


Why is the question always posed as if the EU is "not letting Turkey in"? Have they fulfilled the criteria to join yet? All the other countries did yaknow.
posted by dabitch at 3:23 AM on October 14, 2005


I don't think all the other countries really did fulfill the criteria at all. Weren't the rules changed to make it more of a tier system to protect the power of France and Germany? And to make the newer eastern countries lesser members at first, without the full benefits of the older country members?

funam, i honestly think the entry of Turkey would affect all the Muslims living in current EU states (esp. Germany), in many ways. I see a real political awakening for them, and a real opportunity for change in Brussels regarding diversity and the insistence on having it both ways--keeping national "character" of each state (or however it's described) while also banding together to become a real force and power in the world--There's an inherent disjunct in how the EU is set up, and how some things are denationalized (movement bet countries of people and goods, etc) but others not. A more diverse set of member states forces more diverse thinking and policy and planning, and enables the EU to more fully be a part of the future world, the focus of which is not in Europe--and will not be, unless Europe changes its thinking. Forming a private club that doesn't allow for real understanding and outreach to other cultures (except in terms of the help, if you get my drift) -- either for trade or political or strategic opportunities -- ensures irrelevance. It goes to the very reasons for banding together, i think--is it a "this is our club" and all the rest of the world is shut out? or is it a "we're banding together to more fully and successfully negotiate and operate in the world of today and tomorrow"? Having a member state that straddles both Europe and Asia can only benefit everyone in the end, and serve as a vital political, diplomatic and economic link, regardless of population issues.

(sorry for the length)
posted by amberglow at 6:47 AM on October 14, 2005


amberglow, I don't really have specific disagreements to what you are saying, but to me it all sounds too abstract, like it's all about the grand ideas and principles. Nothing wrong with that, after all all big projects need some big ideas, but there's been way too much of that kind of talk already, and I prefer to hear about the specifics. For most ordinary people the EU doesn't have such an element of ideal or cultural significance - Europe has to some extent, but Europe existed before the EU; the EU, commission and parliament and all the rest, is just another government body. I'm interested in what it actually does, the legislation and economic decisions being discussed and taken, and so on. The actual impact EU decisions have on daily life, on business, employment, education, etc. for its citizens, and the political debate on it all. I guess the same is true of people in Turkey too. How will entry affect their lives, jobs, commerce, prospects, etc. It's both a matter of benefits and duties - to meet certain standards and requirements and targets - so I don't see the problem if integration is by degrees. I don't see any other way it could work.

A more diverse set of member states forces more diverse thinking and policy and planning, and enables the EU to more fully be a part of the future world, the focus of which is not in Europe--and will not be, unless Europe changes its thinking.

Eh, you almost sound like a EU commissioner there ;) but what does it mean exactly, in practice?

There is no single Europe with a single thinking. It's already a matter of coordinating national policies and different parties and different interests. Turkey is not going to change the structure or purpose of the EU. It just needs to be ready to work within it.

It goes to the very reasons for banding together, i think--is it a "this is our club" and all the rest of the world is shut out? or is it a "we're banding together to more fully and successfully negotiate and operate in the world of today and tomorrow"?

I think it's obvious the purpose is the latter, that's why to me all this talk of including/excluding in abstract terms makes no sense. That's a sentimental approach, not a pragmatic one. Otherwise, we might argue that the EU should expand indefinitely just for the sake of inclusion and diversity. It needs to have limits, otherwise it'd become completely unworkable. Note I'm not saying the limits should stop before Turkey - like I said I don't really have objections in principle to the entry - but that the argument cannot be about "inclusiveness" for its own sake.

Having a member state that straddles both Europe and Asia can only benefit everyone in the end, and serve as a vital political, diplomatic and economic link, regardless of population issues.

Turkey is already a diplomatic, political and economic link and partner (like Russia, China, India, the US, you name it), not to mention a military one - see NATO, see the US-Turkey military relationship, and the Turkey-Israel relationship.

EU membership is not a simple matter of having that kind of relationship, it is a completely different step. A much much bigger one. I think you're underestimating the complexity of the whole process.
posted by funambulist at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2005


I'm sure i'm underestimating the complexity of it--but i'm really interested in finding out more. It's the first new big alliance thing in my lifetime, and it's immensely interesting, as an outsider. : >
posted by amberglow at 1:25 PM on October 14, 2005


It is very interesting and hopeful, but aboveall frustrating. Dabitch is exactly right that Turkey needs to satisfy the criteria that all of the other new countries have had to satisfy in order to be considered. There was no relaxing of the rules for the 15 that just entered into the union and there are two or three eastern countries that couldn't straighten everything out in time and are waiting on line ahead of Turkey.. Also, the new countries are less powerful (read, have less votes) because they have smaller populations, with the exception of Poland which has joined Spain in the second tier of EU countries (by votes). They could, however, form a pretty effective voting block, especially if they team up with a country like Poland or Spain.

I think it's worth repeating what I said earlier; with all of the new countries, the EU needs time to consolidate. As the EU grows things get more and more complex, countries that were receiving structural funds (like Spain and Ireland) now have to transition into paying more into the funds than they receive, since the new countries will be rightfully receiving more. Many jobs and factories are already slipping away from Spain and other western european countries to the new eastern member states. This leads many sectors of the older member states to be resentful of the new countries. Adding an enormous country like Turkey to the mix would just exacerbate negative feelings during a very sensitive period. Let's face it, Turkey would simply be too big a country to absorb right now economically.

Then there are the social aspects. Try to put this in a more familiar framework: when we think about the series of fortuitous events that occured that allowed the US Republic to flourish, it seems almost impossible to believe. The 13 states were constantly looking out for themselves first and thinking about the union second. Creating a single political entity out of many existing entities is a very dicey business. Things have to be taken slowly, setbacks (like the constitutional referendum) have to be withstood...like you said, its a complicated process, a human phenomenon in all of its senses (social, cultural, economic, historical) if you will. Personally, I'm betting pretty heavily on its success, but any misstep can lead to failure.
posted by sic at 2:19 PM on October 14, 2005


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