Mar 07 2018

U.S. beware: Erdoğan’s a militarist, it’s not just hot air

The United States should beware of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan because his militarist rhetoric, tainted with religious undetones, has real foundations and aims, wrote former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman and research analyst Merve Tahiroğlu.

Demonising the United States is an integral part of Erdoğan’s active promotion of militarism among the population and loyalty to his government and Islamist agenda, they said in an analysis for the Weekly Standard.

The Turkish leader has openly encouraged the formation of civilian militia that claim to defend his government and the nation. Children have not been immune to these efforts, symbolised by the sobbing girl in military uniform that Erdoğan invited on stage at a recent political rally, Edelman said.

Turkey’s state-run religious affairs directorate has been publishing its own propaganda to promote the virtues of martyrdom to children. Turkish students, including kindergarten kids, have been made to conduct military marches and recite ultranationalist poems.

“These are all extensions of Erdoğan’s decade-old efforts to “raise” a pious and zealous generation of Turks that exalts martyrdom to defend the “new Turkey” that the president has worked tirelessly to construct,” they said. “Erdoğan’s shocking 2008 request from Turkish women to produce three to five children each—a request he backed up with financial incentives in 2015—is part and parcel of this strategy.”

U.S. officials fail to recognise this trend and the real anti-U.S. fervour that feeds it, he said.

“We can no longer postpone the day of reckoning. If we don’t address these problems now, we will share in the blame for what went wrong."