Andrew, a couple points: I certainly agree with your broader point, but it’s also important to realize that, with every country that has joined the EU, public attitudes toward accession have dropped significantly after negotiations began. In every EU aspirant but Turkey, governments used their soapboxes to contain public animosity to Brussels as negotiations grew tense. Within Turkey, however, Erdogan egged on anti-European feelings with Euro-bashing rhetoric.
More worthy of criticism, however, is Thomas Friedman’s navel-gazing: Why does he assume Turkey’s Islamism is the West’s fault, and that Turkey is merely reacting to Europe? Does he not realize that Prime Minister Erdogan is an independent thinker and quite capable of formulating and implementing his own strategy to his own purposes? Certainly, I agree that many people in Europe innately oppose the inclusion of such a large Muslim population because they are Muslim. And certainly bigotry exists in Europe — frankly, racism in Europe is far worse than that which exists in the United States. But what Thomas Friedman doesn’t realize as he parachutes in and out of Turkey is that hatred and bigotry in Turkey is exponentially higher than anything in the West. Remember, Turkey is a country where Mein Kampf became a best-seller, not in 1935 but in 2005. If anything, Erdogan’s behavior shows the wisdom of European leaders who resisted Turkey’s inclusion into the European Union.
Erdogan bases his strategy on the assumption that the West is filled with useful idiots who will excuse his every move and instead blame themselves. I try to counter this here.