Case Studies in Dignity & Self Respect: Turkey vs. Iran

Obama listening to Turkish PM Erdogan

Yesterday I wrote about Dignity, Integrity & Self Respect and how to get there. I argued that these qualities can’t be gained by intransigence, deception and denial, but must be earned through honesty, sincerity and responsibility. Today I want to follow up with some examples from modern geo-politics that demonstrate my point.

Earlier this month, Turkey announced that it will partner with the US to host part of NATO’s missile defence system.

Under the Nato plans, a limited system of US anti-missile interceptors and radars already planned for Europe – to include interceptors in Romania and Poland as well as the radar in Turkey – would be linked to expanded European-owned missile defences. That would create a broad system that protected every Nato country against medium-range missile attack.

This makes sense for Turkey since it will help protect the nation’s security. But it doesn’t mean that Turkey is an American stooge or a servant of Western hegemony. Far from it. At the same time that Turkey was cooperating with the Americans to secure its borders, they also expelled the Israeli ambassador when he refused to apologise for the Gaza flotilla raid that killed Turkish citizens and spoke out loudly in favour of Palestinian rights. If one were to listen to our ghairatmand conspiracy walas, this would be a seeming impossibility. How can a country be partners with the Americans and not fall prey to their US-Hindu-Zionist mind control? Because Turkey is reasonable and realistic, it is respected when it disagrees with the US and taken seriously on the world stage.

Compare this to Iran that rigs elections, spreads ridiculous conspiracy theories, and acts as a destabilisers in the region. When Turkey speaks out about a serious issue like the rights of Palestinians or economic markets, the world listens. When Iran rants and terms the holocaust “myth”, the world laughs at them. And when they speak out for the rights of Palestinians, nobody listens. This week’s UN meeting is a case in point.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, much diminished at home by his confrontation with the country’s supreme leader, has said the same thing so many times at the United Nations that it has taken on the aura of a ritual monotony. When a Western ambassador was asked what he anticipated from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech, he quipped, “We are preparing our usual contingency walkout plan.”

Right on schedule, Mr. Ahmadinejad prompted a walkout by the United States and Europe by implying that conspiracies lay behind the Sept. 11 attacks and the Holocaust.

This is the question we need to ask ourselves. Do we want to be indignant or effective? Being indignant is easy. All you have to do is pound your fist and point your finger and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. You can feel self-righteous and superiour, but you will never succeed in changing anything.

The other choice is to be effective. That requires being realistic and being responsible. It requires taking a long view of history, recognising our limitations, and working towards achievable solutions even if they come only incrementally. When a country follows the Turkish path, it has the ear of world leaders. And when you have the respect of the world, self respect comes naturally.

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