In the beginning, people speak different and act different for they live in distance. For instance in Europe nobles wouldn’t really bother teaching the peasants the same language they speak; and peasants wouldn’t really mind if the government post something that they could not understand on the city wall. After some successful political marriage it was pretty common in Medieval Europe that different regions (some don’t even share geographical borders) with different local languages and people share the same lord. Think about the Habsburg Dynasty. They had half Europe at the time. They even used different court languages to govern their vast dominion. It was the political norm for the feudal system in Europe, way before the emergence of modern nationalism. People were much more relaxed at the definition of border and nationality (though religion was a pretty serious matter for the identity). The definition of modern nationhood, one nation one people on language, came with the drastic French Revolution at the end of 18th century. As increasingly centralized polity imposed deliberate assimilation policy upon different local groups (i.e. like the spread of French in France or Belgium), local groups would also be awakened to resist the alien influence. In most cases the big power won. That’s why you got Germans are Germans, French are French, Italians are Italian nowadays. Occasionally locals managed to resist the imposition. That’s how those small nationalism movement emerged, such as the Flemish, the Baltic countries, the Basque, etc. After this what I call dramatic shuffling, the modern international political structure came to the stasis. People would move even for the sake of switching to different ethnic regime in between some artificial boundaries (like the Turk/Greek swap deal, or the expulsion of the Germans in Eastern Europe). In those wild days, borders change all the time, people come and go, some becomes prominent, some disappears, few stays the same. Nationhood and the border were not as sacred and eternal as we take for granted nowadays.
After years of struggle with the rise of modern nationalism, in today’s politics, most countries have one predominant majority of identity and language. A nation, defined by its geographical border is sacred and inviolable. This is the first thing that would cross over people’s mind when thinking of their country. What’s more, the few surviving local groups want to be out of their masters after the failed attempt of assimilation. Then big countries split into a number of small countries, like the case of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and even Georgia. As extreme as they appear, those peanuts size national movements are merely the extending tail of the whole modern nationalism movement starting 200 years ago.
But what’s the real trend now? As mentioned above, modern nationalism is coming to a dead end. Only small groups of laggards are still whining about the pie they didn’t taste, like Basque, Kosovo, or even Catalonia. The rest majority of people in the modern civilization are, on the contrary, a bit bored and tired of such modern tradition, especially after two biggest national wars. So people started to eye on the next step to find something to associate with… This is when things get out of control…
Out of control how? Out of control when people start to think that all humans should be treated equally and multiculturalism in a post-nationalism era is beautiful. So nationhood becomes less and less important now and borders are the symbols of old rigid outdated system. Intellectuals plan to break down the old ethnocentrism and build up something way larger to stimulate another rapid development just like nationalism did to us back then, as larger scale in polity brings larger potential of scientific advancement (people stay more focused). The first thing that needs to be gone is the nationhood and then the borders. But so far only the integration of European Union makes sense to me as the potential 1+1>2 game to reinvigorate Europe. The rest of those movements? There are simple too much discrepancy among the groups of people involved. Clustering the nationhood and borders only makes sense when the groups involved are somewhat in common at culture, IQ, economy etc. The whole ethnocentrism still remains strong despite being at the downward spiral, and we need to take that into consideration. The concept of nationhood would remain, but the entity of an independent polity would be upgraded. But then again, if it could not even be enforced effectively in Europe, then we certainly should forget about unconditional multiculturalism and think of other options to sustain our modern civilization.
The current tough tones and political drama Turkey has presented are sending a strong signal to the world: “Showtime for our Turks again”. As I have talked about it in a previous post, Turkey always has the desire to retrieve what belonged to them back in the glorious days of the Ottoman Empire. Now they seem more confident than ever.
Is it? Let’s check out what was going on in the past few days: We saw Turkey downplayed relation with Israel dramatically due to some radical leftist suicidal mission. Turkey hates Israel now? Nah, it just wants to whitewash its image in front of all its Muslim brothers in the Middle East, especially after the demise of effective pro-West secular authoritarian polity in the region. This is a nice first step. Those inbred Arabs (such as those mobs who stormed Israel Embassy in Cairo) are easy to fool anyway. So then Erdogan was greeted like a hero when he visited Egypt, Libya, and even Tunisia later. I have to say Turks definitely outsmart their Arab counterparts. Erdogan didn’t make the suicidal move to visit Gaza after all, a move even considered unbearable by its Western babysitters.
Usually it’s fine to appeal to those newly empowered groups in those countries, many Western countries are exactly doing the same, paying a visit and offering large sum of
bribery aid etc. It’s their leftist propaganda, at least that’s the show they have to play to appeal to their own leftists-hijacking society to win the votes, not that there will be any consolidating outcomes in those poor countries. Since when did Western interventionism create anything good for the locals anyway? Well, nobody really gives a rat about those sandy tribes anyway, and I don’t think Turkey all of sudden feels super compassionate to look after their Muslim brothers, either. But the difference between Turkey and the West in maneuvering in that region is that the West could only appeal to the people in power with money. As much as the chaos was initiated by facebook and “so-called liberal” youth, there is always a substantial resentment against the West among the populace in the middle east. This is ideological irreconcilability, there’s nothing the West can do to change their hostile attitude. Meanwhile, Turkey is much better off in this race. They could easily appear appealing to the inbred angry young men with the costume of Islam. Whenever there’s a social turmoil and rioting against the dictatorship in Muslim world, Islam is always the biggest winner in the end, the Iran Revolution, the Iraqi War, and recently what happened in Yemen and Egypt. Smart politician of course notices the pattern. Western liberals could only try their best to ineffectively discourage this happening, which is due to happen anyway. Turks are happy about this trend, for it makes much easier for them to appeal to the Arabs. Simply by decrying some tough lines again the Jews, Erdogan came to Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, treated like a hero, and then started to publicly pray together to the Allah, televised of course. This simple almost-cost-nothing step is way more powerful than any hardcore Western aids in 10 years. The local just dig Turkey more than the West. Then he brought his business crew, signing this contract, providing that project, to show the Arabs “hey I am not only on your side, but I could offer you money and prosperity, too!”. In comparison, I don’t think any western leaders dare to make such religious connections, not even to their Christian brothers in deep trouble in the middle east (the only bluffing sign they did was to visit some lame church in Beijing to the Chinese who are natural immune to religion anyway).
Easy victory for the Turks. Ostensibly they are gaining more allies and momentum in the middle east, together with a much louder croaking. Now the croak is directly towards their babysitter’s face, the West as well. When the heat of Turk’s heroic visit in the middle east still remains, Turkey posed a very hostile position against the EU and the Cyprus. The Turks threaten to snip all ties with EU if Cyprus became the EU rotating president next year. Almost instantaneously, Turkey vowed to send their navy to Northern Cyprus coast to escort the gas exploration signed by Turkey and its vassal state that no one else recognizes. Two aggressive croaking coincide with the decry against Israel and Erdogan’s show trip in Middle East and North Africa. Perfect timing! I bet they planned that way ahead of days. Indeed EU has so much to lose from losing Turkey but Turkey is not really that strong enough to withstand the isolation from the West either (at least Turks think they have larger bargaining power now). In the end of day, it’s just some pointless political croaking. Turkey is not really going to freeze its relations with EU, but probably would send couple of destroyers off the Northern Cyprus coast. But it is a clear sign that Turkey would continue escalate its voice with its boosting confidence in the region. It’s a discernible annoyance and potential alert to Europe.
Not just croaking on the regional politics, Turkey also becomes more blatantly involved in interfering European domestic politics, with its large number of Turk immigrants in Europe of course, especially the core engine of EU: Germany. It’s nothing new to hear what a big headache is to deal with the Turk problem for the Germans, but it is relatively fresh to hear Turkish politicians are also getting involved in this heated debate directly from Turkey. The recently established BIG (Bündnis für Innovation und Gerechtigkeit, meaning Alliance for Innovation and Justice) party in the German politics, with members and candidates being exclusively Turks and strong affiliation with the ruling islamic AKP party in Turkey, is disguising itself with the promotion of multiculturalism to stride in the German mainstream politics. Meanwhile, on a recent visit to Germany, Turkish President, a symbolic title with no actual political power, Abdullah Gul denounced Germany’s attempt to impose compulsory German class on Turks in Germany as a violation of human rights. What’s matter with that? There will be more Turks and less Germans in Germany. Turks now collide with the hardcore leftists, which are gaining momentum in German politics nowadays (the gay Green party for example). And most importantly, Turkey is seeking high profile presence in backing its Turk population in the heart of Europe. See how powerful this is?
Turkey is going to be a major challenger to the EU imperialism, for the Turks want to be the regional big brother again. Everything appears promising to the Turks but only one real threat to the Turk’s regional domination plan: the Americans.
They owe a lot to the Americans, without US Turkey wouldn’t be so smooth in invading Cyprus back in 1974, without US Turkey won’t have the F-16 to bomb the PKK in Iraq, without US Turkey wouldn’t get so much aid money to grow itself. Like Saudis, Turkey is still an America’s spoiled kid. As much as Turkey croaks around, no way the Turks would turn their back to the Uncle Sam, at least it’s not the time yet. But this subordination won’t last for long. US influence is receding worldwide and Turkey is gaining confidence region-wide. It’s a matter of time to see some obvious signals for the split between the estranged foster-father-son relation.
Look at the poster Turkish hackers put on some Palestinian websites (they mistook Palestinian websites for Israeli ones). They want to F Israel, they want to F Greece, they want to F Armenia, and they want to F PKK. But there’s no condemnation for the Americans, yet. There is just some implicit annoyance for the US in the poster. However, it wouldn’t take long for them to upgrade their slogans against the Nazis Germans and Sneaky Americans.
Turks hate their neighbors, but their neighbors hate them even more. Tell me one neighbor that doesn’t explicitly hate the Turks (not to forget the Kurds are in Turkey as well). For Turks, there’s still hope that Syria could embrace Turkey after the downfall of Al-Assad like what happened in Egypt. But even if it happens, the Turk-Arab marriage won’t last long. I don’t think Arabs like Turks genuinely. They just got a much bigger enemy: Israel and the Western shadow. Remember the Lawrence of Arabia, a Brit homosexual who ignited Arab nationalism against the Turks? There’s only pan-Arabism. The Arabs don’t want the Turks in just as much as how they disdain the Persians.
The bombing in Ankara yesterday should also remind them out of their daydream, that they are far from being the supreme regional leader. However, Turkey seems to be on the ascending trend. This is rather disturbing and alerting to Europe. Since the The Battle of Manzikert, Turks have never hesitated to exert its hostility against Europe whenever they can. They are never friends to Europe.
Personally I am fine with Turkics, a big fan of Tengriism by the way. But since I too have ideological irreconcilability with Islam, I don’t think I would be be happy to see a Islamic great confederation of Turkey in the near east in the future.
In recent years, especially after the rise of their beloved PM Erdogan with his Pro-Islam AK Party in the Turkish politics, there has been an evident change in the long pro-West political momentum in Turkey. 100 years after Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk decided to abandon its moribund shell and embrace westernized and secular modernization, Ottoman’s ghost made a clear comeback. The next thing you know: Erdogan was deploring Chinese genocide against the Uighur in a riot that it’s exactly the other way around in Urumqi; Erdogan was denouncing Germany to stop those blunt assimilation attempt to infiltrate his Turkish brothers in Germany; Edrogan was pressing hard on Syria and publicly condemning al-Assad amid his protest repression; Edrogan claimed Turkey ought to be the role model for all Muslim states when massive chaos broke out in the middle east; Edrogan made a strong political decry against Israel and even plan to visit Gaza to support Hamas.
It takes a fool to figure out what Turkey is aiming for. I am sure all Turks are overwhelmed in their mighty glory of the great Ottoman Empire. They are tired of modern Turkey. If one keeps sticking his face to someone’s butt for a long time he would definitely get sick of it. It’s natural that Turks get frustrated with the West and retrieved their old Ottoman spirit. It’s just a matter of time. The Ottoman ghost has always been there. It just needs a good timing to release in rapt. The secularization process was never thorough enough to switch people’s mentality for modern civilization. Islam may be covered with Turkish nationalism in domestic politics, but it has been always the sole guidance for the majority of the clannish Turkish population. Germany made a miscalculation by importing the Turk labors 50 years ago. Look what kind of troubles they got themselves into? Let’s not forget not long ago, the definition of Turk, through the legendary Millet System in the Ottoman Empire, was merely the people who believe in Islam. With hundreds of years of tradition in mixing religious identity and ethnic identity, would it not be called naive to wish to whitewash the old religious image away in a short time of period? Even in countries full of radical communists in the past, religious tradition would revive right away after the downfall of communism.
Apostasy was never an option for Turkey. Still, its statesmen are trying hard to maneuver in between modernity and tradition for years. In the old time Turkey would always pretend to be an inveterate allay of the West, thanks to the political intervention from Turkish military juntas. Now that they got a powerful political party and a skillful politician, juntas are no longer in power. The strong affiliation with tradition emerged under the water after years of hiding. When the west are badly battered by their own social and economic problems, Middle eastern long-lasting dictating regimes start to rumble in front of massive social turmoil, the Russians are still deeply trapped in post-Soviet trauma, it’s showtime for the Ottoman Turks.
Is it? Everything seems so right, except that the modern Turkey is no longer the great Ottoman Empire. The benefit of a move to side with the Islamist is still too immature to outweigh the adverse risk of pissing off the West. Turkey is not strong enough to go blatantly against the West at the moment, as long as US still views Turkey as a pawn in Middle East front-line, and Kurds are still restlessly harassing the Turkish rule in Southeastern Anatolian mountains. On the other side, the Muslim world was never really a true friend of the Turks either. I don’t think either Persians or the Arabs would be happy to embrace the leadership of the Turks, the foreign steppe people from the east as far as they perceive. Persians are heretic Shi’a and Arabs would never be subject to a Turk dominion once again. Nowadays Arabs in the middle east needs an extra allay to counter-balance Western’s influence. It should not be difficult for Turks to figure out their Muslim brothers are just using them for the time being. Their alliance is expendable with an expiration date. The space for Turks to maneuver is actually still very limited at the moment. Any drastic move would only serve Turkey the opposite of what it is intended to exert. It’s better to keep the Ottoman’s ghost in the closet a big longer I say.
It is really no exciting news to hear the birth of another new country. Do you know? There are simply 31 widely-recognized plus 5 controversially-recognized and 1 unrecognized new-born countries that are no more than 21 years old (that is born no earlier than 1990, the legal age to do anything in most of US states), prior to 9th July, 2011 (Hong Kong, Macau being unique cases back to China, anything would be unique regarding China anyhow nowadays). Assuming most of the readers live in relatively politically stable regimes and have little sense of how dynamic and volatile global political equilibrium could be, it must be a shock to see there are so many split break-up of old countries and formation of new countries in the past two decades. I say it’s purely amazing. Here is some collective information of those countries:
- 23 widely recognized countries in Eurasia were created mainly due to historical ethnic dispute:
15 countries born out of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991; they are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
6 countries born out of dissolution of the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2006; they are: Slovenia (1991), Croatia (1991), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992), Serbia (1992 as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then 2006 as Serbia after split with Montenegro), Macedonia (1991), Montenegro (2006).
- 6 widely recognized countries in Africa and Oceania emerged as a consequence of historical colonial divisions:
6 countries obtained independence status that result from former colonial divisions; they are: Namibia (1990 from South Africa, as it used to a German colony rather than British), Eritrea (1993 from Ethiopia, as it used to Italian colony rather than part of Ethiopia, though the majority inhabitants share same roots, culture and religion), Marshall Islands (1991 from US trusteeship, as it used to be German colony, controlled by Japan after WWI, and US after WWII), Palau (1994, from US trusteeship, as it used to be part of the Caroline Islands under first Spanish, then German, Japanese and later US rule), Micronesia (1990 from US trusteeship, as it used to be ruled by Spanish, German, Japanese, and US, chronologically), East Timor (2002 from Indonesia, as it used to Portuguese colony rather than Dutch East Indies).
- 2 widely recognized countries in Eurasia founded as a result of ethnic unification:
Germany (1990) was founded based on the reunification of former West Germany and former East Germany after the fall of iron curtain. Yemen (1990), which is in deep political chaos at the moment, was established based on the unification of North Yemen and South Yemen, under the leadership the current unpopular president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
- 5 controversially recognized political entities in Europe due to historical ethnic dispute (in an ethno-geographic sense)
Transnistria (1990), declared independence after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the de facto independence from Moldova reinforced after the Transnistria war in 1992, recognized only by Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia.
Nagorno-Karabakh (1992) proclaimed its independence in the middle of the Nagorno-Karabakh war (1988-1994) between Armenian and Azerbaijani, currently only recgnized by Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia (both 2008), both announced their sovereignty soon after the collapse of Soviet Union, both soon engaged in warfare with Georgia shortly after (Abkhazia war and South Ossetia war) and controlled by Georgia after Georgia’s victory, and both gained de facto independence in 2008 with heavy military support from Russia. They are mutually recognized together with Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. Besides, they are also recognized by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Nauru.
- 1 totally unrecognized political entity in the Horn of Africa
The sad and lonely political regime that is totally forsaken by the global community (the other being Western Sahara and that was under de facto Moroccan control) lies in the upper part of the Horn of Africa, it’s called Somaliland, self-proclaimed independence from the god-forsaken land Somalia after the initial stage of Somali civil war in 1991 (As Somaliland used to be Italian colony rather than British Africa). Interestingly, unlike its former ruling regime Somalia, which turns into a hell place of constant wars and killings and the latest haven of infamous Somali pirates as the forgotten zone/no-go land of human civilization, Somaliland has enjoyed quite nice relative political and social stability, albeit no one really gives a damn.
AND NOW, ONE MORE NEW KID CAME IN TOWN ON 9th July, 2011, what’s the name of that country again? South Sudan?!
Good for the South Sudanese (I guess this is the term, though it is not really a ethnic term), after being long repressed by the Sudanese (North Sudanese?), their arabized north brothers (only a very small of them probably have one or two real Arab paternal ancestor in the past thousand years anyway), it’s time to start a new chapter for the sons and daughters of the ancient Nubians (or just some random tribes from the South). Interestingly, albeit its ambivalent and questionable excuses behind its independence (the endemic momentum for independence is from neither long-going ethnic disputes nor colonial divisions, but rather religious conflicts which are comparable to Nigerian situation in my opinion), South Sudan surely seems to enjoy more international applause than any other new born countries since Montenegro. Most of other countries act like simply can’t wait to greet the new nation with overwhelming ”smile and rapture”.