Turkey caught between 2 geopolitical systems juin 13, 2012Posted by Acturca in Etats-Unis, Moyen Orient, Turquie, Turquie-UE, UE.
Tags: EU, Middle East, Thomas Friedman, Turkey, Turkey-EU
The Houston Chronicle (USA) June 13, 2012, p. B9
Thomas Friedman *
Thomas Friedman says the euro zone— born after the coldwar— and the post-worldwar I Arab state system are both coming unglued.
For many years, strategists have debated whether Turkey would be a “bridge” or a “gully” between predominantly Christian Europe and the Arab/ Muslimmiddle East. If Turkey were admitted to the European Union, it would be a bridge binding these two worlds. If it were kept out of the E.U., it could become a gully separating the two. It turns out that Turkey these days is neither a bridge nor a gully. It’s an island— an island of relative stability between two great geopolitical systems that are cracking apart: The euro zone that came into being after the cold war, and the Arab state system that came into being after Worldwar I are both coming unglued.
The stresses are getting to everyone. The reactions range from the truly horrificmurders perpetrated by the Assad mafia family clinging to power in Syria to the disturbing fight that broke out last Thursday on amorning TV talk show in Greece, where the spokesman of a far-right party tossed water in the face of a woman from the left-wing party on the show and then smacked another woman panelist in the face three times.
The island of Turkey has become one of the best places to observe both these worlds. To the east, you see the European monetary Union buckling under the weight of its own hubris— leaders who reached too far in forging a common currency without the common governance to sustain it. And, to the south, you see the Arab League crumbling under the weight of its own decay— leaders who never reached at all for the decent governance and modern education required to thrive in the age of globalization.
Europeans failed to build Europe, and that is now a big problem because, as its common currency comes under pressure and the E.U. goes deeper into recession, the whole world feels the effects. The Syrians failed to build Syria, the Egyptians failed to build Egypt, the Libyans failed to build Libya, the Yemenis failed to build Yemen. Those are even bigger problems because no one knows how they’ll be put back together again.
To put it another way: In Europe, the supranational project did not work, and now, to a degree, Europe is falling back into individual states. In the Arab world, the national project did not work, so some of the Arab states are falling back onto sects, tribes, regions and clans.
In Europe, the supranational project did not work because the European states were never ready to cede control over their budgets to a central authority that would ensure a common fiscal policy to back up a common currency.
In the Arab world, the national project did not work— in many, but not all cases— because the tribes, sects, clans and regional groups that make up these Arab states were unwilling or unable to meld genuine national communities.
So the E.U. today has many citizens, but no single supranational nation state to which everyone is ready to cede economic authority. And the Arab world has many national states, but few citizens. In Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Bahrain, you have one sect or tribe ruling others by force— not because they forged a voluntary social contract with one another. In Egypt and Tunisia, you have more homogeneous societies and a stronger sense of citizenship, which is why they have a better chance at transitioning to more consensual politics.
In fairness, in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Iraq, you have many people, particularly young rebels, who want to be citizens. They want to live in states where people have rights and obligations andmultiethnic parties. But it’s not clear they have the leadership and educatedmiddle classes needed to forge modern political identities out of atavistic ones.
One question historians will puzzle over is why both great geopolitical systems fractured at once? The answer, I believe, is the intensifying merger of globalization and the information technology revolution, which made the world dramatically flatter in the last five years, as we went from connected to hyper connected. In the Arab world, this hyperconnectivity simultaneously left youths better able to see how far behind they were— with all the anxiety that induced — and enabled them to communicate and collaborate to do something about it, cracking open their ossified states.
In Europe, hyperconnectedness both exposed just how uncompetitive some of their economies were, but also how interdependent they had become.
And us? America’s flexible federal system makes it, theoretically, well-suited to thrive in a hyperconnected world, but only if we get our macroeconomic house in order and our education up to par (or better). AsMohamed el-Erian, the chief executive of the bond giant Pimco, puts it, “We’re just the cleanest dirty shirt around.”
* Friedman is a columnist for The New York Times and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.