The American Interest

Neo—Ottomans Triumphant

The Ground Zero Mosque and the Koran (non)burning are but two recent examples of overreported and misrepresented stories that reflect the sorry level of media discourse in the United States.  Meanwhile, an event took place on September 12 that has vital importance for the United States’ declared strategy in the Muslim world, in general, and in the Greater Middle East, in particular.  Yet it is an even bet that not one American in a hundred can put a name to it.

On that day, thanks to a referendum on constitutional changes supported by 58 percent of her electorate, Turkey ceased to be a “secular democracy” based on Kemal Atatürk’s reforms of 85 years ago.  The event was either ignored by the media, or else—on President Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s cue—presented as a triumph of democracy in a friendly Muslim country that provides America with a vital bridge between the East and the West.  In reality, it was the final step in a long sequence of moves by Turkey’s Islamists, who have been in power for the better part of the decade and now feel strong enough to proceed with their endgame.

Over the past eight years, Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been successful in undermining Mustafa Kemal’s legacy and the character of the state founded upon that legacy.  What remained, until the...

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