The conventional wisdom (the State Department, the White House, the usual) – and Derb’s too, if I recall correctly – is that it’s in America’s strategic interest for Turkey to join the EU. The argument is that EU membership, and, indeed, even the EU application process will anchor that country in the secular West. That’s quite possibly true (I’m not convinced either way), but this article in the Business takes a different, and very intriguing tack, focussed on the fact that Turkey’s secular freedoms are, in essence, defended by the army:
“Isn’t EU accession precisely what a secular military guarding a secular state would want, as a bulwark against the rising Islamist tide? Not necessarily. Understanding why gets to the heart of the issue. There is an irony here that many people do not appreciate. Turkey today is a secular, pro-western nation, whose secularism is protected by the army.
As a condition of joining the EU, the west will insist that Turkey have western-style freedom of religion. Though the EU sees itself as secular, it is not seen as secular in Turkey. It is seen as a Christian club, and will insist that the Turkish military stop trying to influence the government and the judiciary – that is, abandon their control of the Deep State (the EU being fundamentally an anti-militarist project, founded to solve the problem of European wars). By following its deeply held principles, the west may thus insist upon a religious/political freedom that could destroy the Turkish secular project. And, if worst comes to worst, it could lead to the real gathering of power by an Islamist government in Ankara. “
Interesting. Read the whole thing.