To: The Editor, Wall Street Journal
G. Chazanís article Turkish Turnabout: Is the Army the Westís Enemy?î portrays the Atatürkist military and bureaucracy as a nationalist obstacle, and the religionist party in power as a chance for greater democracy and development in Turkey. This view seems to be consistent with the recent views of the EU and of the ìcompassionate conservatismî of the US administration. The line adopted after 9/11 that the militant Islam, which is an aberration of the religion, is an obstacle to freedom and that moderate Islam in politics would defeat this militancy is no more than political correctness.
Atatürk principles meticulously protected by the military are not nationalistic, nor are they against religious freedom and development.
What the EU and the writers in the US like G. Chazan do not apprehend are that in the last 200 years of experience of Turkey the involvement of religion in politics and in the governance of the country did not bring anything but instability and delays in development. Ataturkís reforms were introduced to separate religion from politics in absolute terms in order to bring rationalism, democracy, freedom and progress.
This absolute separation was not practiced diligently by Ataturkís successors. As the writer notes the Islamist party came to power with the votes of those who are ìsick of corruption and incompetence of Turkeyís established politiciansî, not because the public expects the Islamists to bring greater democracy, freedom and development.
The ignorance of realities of Ataturkís political philosophy is excusable, as unfortunately it is not taught in schools. Some political decisions taken in Europe and the US prove that it is time to abandon the practice of the old ìVictorian compromiseî between religion and politics, and move on to an absolute separation of the two as advocated by Ataturk, like the desired separation between military and politics. The new ideological war demonstrates that this change would be more conducive to peace in the 21st century.
M. Camcigil, President, Ataturk Society of America