The West on the Brink

We do not hear much about the Armenian genocide of 1915.  Even less well known is the Turk’s expulsion of the Greeks of Western Anatolia and the Pontic coast in the years after World War I.  At Smyrna, Greek and Armenian Christians were literally driven into the sea or massacred.  Shockingly, nearly 20 British, French, and American warships stood offshore, observing.  “What better symbol could be imagined of the decline of the West,” writes British historian Niall Ferguson, “than the brutal expulsion of the heirs of Hellenic civilization from Asia Minor—except perhaps the utter failure of the heirs of ancient Greek democracy to do anything to prevent it?”

While agreeing wholeheartedly, I can’t help but recall Ferguson’s previous book, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (2004), which argues that Turkey should be welcomed into the European Union.  “The economic case has been growing stronger,” what with all that cheap labor available, and the “strategic arguments . . . are compelling.”  (Ferguson thinks it will “bind Turkey to the West.”)  The argument goes something like this: A “European” Turkey will serve not only as a buffer against Middle Eastern disorder but as a model for moderate, Westernized Islam.  (We were told the same thing about Iraq.)  The alternative is...

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