Would Turkey be a Shock to the European System?

Barnett, T.P.M. 2007. Like Hanson… Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog. April 8, 2007. Available online: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/04/toms_column_this_week_6.html#comment-16630.


Not a European country?

Tom Barnett, who I admire greatly, responded to my concerns that Turkey may not belong in Europe:

Like Hanson, I think you’re too observant of friction and not of force (the former being primary a function of the latter, but hardly its master). It’s very seductive and seems very perceptive in historical terms (hence the appeal to historians), but it’s a trap of immense proportions in terms of solid strategic thinking (live in the world you find yourself in, because these are revolutionary times).

Acutlaly, I think Tom and I are closer than that. The recent Islamism in Turkey is doubtless a response to the uncertainties of a globalizing economy, and thus come from different sources than Arab extremism. And again, I am naturally sympathetic to the Turkish cause. I’ve criticized German maltreatment of Turks before. But the idea of mass Turkish immigration to Europe, which is inseparable from a meaningful entry of Turkey to the European Union, is too dangerous.

Earlier, Dr. Barnett opined on a possible strike on Iran.

Back to our asynch dialogue of late: to me, attacking Iran overloads the Core on feedback, thus putting it at risk. I can’t grow the Core if I split it, thus my fear.

This is the best reason for keeping Turkey out of Europe. Europe is in making national identities more fluid than they have been any time since the Dark Ages. That’s not an exaggeration. The blending of German, French, and Italian peoples has not happened on this scale since Charlemagne. Europe apperas to be able to handle this, but Europe already is having problems processing Muslim immigrants. Allowing Turks to live freely in Europe would ramp up this disruptive feedback to Europe, perhaps splitting Europe off from the rest of the Core. (The concern is not that Europe would descend to a third-world country — though the no-go zones already have — but that Europe’s attention and concerns would become centered on its unique Islam problem and not applicable to other Core-wide pursuits.)


Not a Continent for Turks?

The impact of massive Turkish immigration to Europe would far, far exceed yet another chapter in the “America acts recklessly in the Middle East” saga that Europe’s been watching for decades. So how can one oppose an Iran War, out of concern for the Core’s reaction, while supporting Turkish immigration to Europe? Especially when other larger and vital states, such as Ukraine, have yet to be integrated.

4 thoughts on “Would Turkey be a Shock to the European System?”

  1. Were the EU not so concerned with taxation and regulation, they could sign a generous bilateral free trade agreement and that work its magic for a while.

    One important factor of your argument, though you no doubt understand it is that the immigration would come from the Anatolia core, the most conservative and backward part of Turkey. The cosmopolitans in Istanbul could benefit from EU membership by staying put.

    Ukraine is good example that the EU needs to work on shoring up what it has first.

  2. ElamBend,

    I agree. Trade-in-goods is not a be-all end-all, but a EU-Turkey free trade area would be a good thing. But it's not what's on the table when “EU membership is discussed.”

    Imagine the United States trying to absorb seventy-three million Muslims. Then realize we actually do a /fantastic/ job of melting ethnic communities compared to Europe. While I was a supporter of Turkey's EU membership when I started this blog, I now think it's fair to say that Turkey-in-Europe would be a disaster.

    Ukraine-in-Europe as soon as possible. But maybe never Turkey, like never Russia.

  3. Isn't Turkey's real future towards the East, i.e. its Turkic cousins and their neighbors? I'm reading “Sons of the Conquerors” now and a businessman in the book notes that the elites use the EU process as a way to keep the politicians onto the road of reform and development. But they feel their real money lies in the booming markets of the East, not “stale” Europe.

  4. Eddie,

    Good points all around. The bribe of EU membership helps countries adjust their political system, but it may be more useful to think of Turkey as source of a “reverse domino” [1] effect that it outside Europe but still important (similar to China [2], say) rather than as primarily useful as a member of the EU (as Ukraine would be).

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/12/14/embracing-defeat-part-i-barnett-s-two-strategies.html
    [2] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/04/dib_chinastyle.html

  5. This seems to be a basic design flaw in the EU. Even though membership wasn't an all-or-nothing deal with the members of the old EEC (Norway declined to join, but so far as I know still gets EEC benefits), it's treated as all-or-nothing with new members. If they don't fix it, Turkey may not be the only potential member they lose.

  6. Which was partially my point. All that land north of the Bosphorus means that Turkey IS in Europe, and so far they haven't gotten far in Central Asia, they are still Mediteranean-centric, like their Greek cultural forbearers the Byzantines.

    As for absorbing them, it wouldn't be the full 73 million that the rest of Europe would have to deal with by only the % that would move north and west. However, given the example of Poland, it could be quite a bit.

  7. Michael,

    The contemporary goal of the EU is to create a “United States of Europe” — a superstate that subsumes the previous countries in Europe in a new constitutional, economic, political, and defense structure. Morrocco has already been rejected for being un-European. Turkey should be the next to help define the borders of Europe.

    ElamBend,

    You're correct that Turkey is essentially a Mediterranean country. However, Greco-Roman civilization is not the forefather of Turkey. Turkish culture and Sharia are. No country that has submitted to Sharia has maintained its pre-Islamic heritage (and this includes truly massive nations such as Egypt and Persia). Islam is totalitarian, not just in some particular implementation, but in its meaning and purpose.

  8. We already have large numbers of Turks in Europe, whose only visible failing in “integration” seems to be creating lots of kebab shops. Equally, Turkey itself has had an association agreement with the EU since 1964.

    Turkey does not operate Sharia. Turkey's legal code is based on that of Switzerland.

    The contemporary goal of the EU is to create a “United States of Europe” — a superstate that subsumes the previous countries in Europe in a new constitutional, economic, political, and defense structure.

    Not really. This would have been an accurate statement in 1957. Very few people now seriously believe in this.

    Regarding “no-go zones”, can we please, please, please have a bit of fact-based perception here? Jean-Marie Le Pen manages to campaign in them without getting his head kicked in.

  9. Problem is, the negotiations with Turkey aren't the only ones effected by this. By basing so much of it on a vote of European powers, anyone aspiring to get in becomes vulnerable to shifts in mood. Someone (Turkey, Romania, Ukraine) could spend years trying to meet the basic criteria already given, only for the climax of that process to match a downturn in the European economy “We don't want hordes of your plumbers coming west, so soorreee, permission denied.” A country, on the other hand, that meets few of the already stated requirements can get in just by catching the Europeans in a good mood, or by having a perceived “right” to membership (Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia come to mind).

    Keep this up, the EU may find itself on the receiving end of Groucho Marx's comment about not joining any club that would accept him. They'll get their economy up, be in a good mood, but find that nobody wants to join anymore.

  10. Alex,

    “We already have large numbers of Turks in Europe, whose only visible failing in “integration” seems to be creating lots of kebab shops.”

    Worse than that. [1] (And that link's from when I supported Turkey's EU bid!)

    “Equally, Turkey itself has had an association agreement with the EU since 1964.”

    And how many military coups since then?

    The answer is two [2,3]. (And that's ignoring the pressure the military's put on the current ruling party.)

    “Turkey does not operate Sharia.”

    Indeed. My reference to Sharia was that Turkish culture is not an inheritor of Greco-Roman culture, not a comment on the current legal system.

    “Not really. This would have been an accurate statement in 1957. Very few people now seriously believe in this.”

    Oh? And that's why there wasn't a recent, very serious attempt at an EU Constitution? Or an officially titled Foreign Ministry? Or reformed voting to be rid of more national vetoes, a Continental immigration policy, &c &c &c

    Michael,

    Indeed, but the admittance of 12 new member states over the past few years shows that Europe has a much bigger backbone when it comes to immigration than the US Congress.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2004/12/12/turkey_in_europe.html
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_Turkish_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_coup_in_Turkey,_1980

  11. Golf clubs have constitutions. The “EU Foreign Minister” is the very sensible and unrevolutionary suggestion of combining the existing posts of External Affairs Commissioner and High Representative for the CFSP. It would answer to the member states through the Council of Ministers rather than the supranational Commission.

    Qualified-majority voting !=superstate. Otherwise, with its extension since 1987, why no superstate?

    I've read your link, and all I can extract from it in terms of information is that the CSU, a party opposed to Turkish membership, doesn't like Turkish membership. This is obvious, and even trivial.

    Re: coups. In the same period, the total number of coups in states members of the EU was zero. Hint?

  12. Alex,

    But very few golf courses have national anthems!

    I get the feeling that you think I am implying something that I am not aware of. I think we can both agree that the EU wants to be, and is, something much more than a regional free-trade organization. Likewise, the EU has a governing system composed of legislative, a judicial, and executive bodies. Likewise, the EU holds direct elections, the EU projects military force beyond its borders, and the EU issues regulations that are often more centralized than the US federal government.

    Do you disagree with any of this?

    If not, why the golf course comparison?

    Back to Turkey:

    “Re: coups. In the same period, the total number of coups in states members of the EU was zero. Hint?”

    Because the EU is in the Core of developed countries, while Turkey is in the Afro-Islamic Gap?

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