Monday, December 11, 2006

cyprus is in ankara

in the first few weeks after the cyprus intervention, the reluctant hero, the coy conqueror of cyprus, the opposition blamed the then premier bulent ecevit for "importing an international question" into the heart of the guagmire of shallowness that is turkish politics. he refuted, of course, but did all he could to convert the "victory" into an election, where he would harvest all the votes. nothing doing, naturally... the opposition was no less cunning. turkey was not vanquished by its own victory for nothing, it always had ample talent to do just that.

now, almost 35 years later, a breakthrough finally appears to get rid of the stranglehold cyprus has applied on turkish society, and is already half boggled by its own authors. over the weekend, tayyib effendi (*) has declared that:

a. turkey made a verbal offer to the e.u. (and hence the government of cyprus) that it will (somehow) open up to sea and air traffic from south cyprus.
b. because the offer was verbally made, and in the course of negotiations with the union, tayyib effendi's government did not feel obliged to consult anyone, namely, the military and the president in that succession of significance... oooh... sorry, of course, also the opposition.
"do we have to consult anyone?" tayyib effendi challenged in a rather rude tone and manner during an open air rally in afyon (**)
c. he then clarified that if and when a move was to be made in writing, then they would consult whomever they should...

oh logic! thou arst perhaps the maker but certainly the breaker of man and men!

let us consider:
1. so it is alright not to feel bound by your word, unless you commit yourself to pen and paper? suppose your "verbal" bid is accepted and acted upon by your counterparts and after consultations, you find out that the generals or the belligerent republicans won't let you "give cyprus away"...
are you going to say "sorry, we were just shooting the cloaca anyway, you know," and walk away?
no wonder the europeans insisted on conducting the bargains in writing, in the first place.

2. ex post facto consultation - it does sound like "diagnosis at the autopsy" - is a good way of exchanging ideas that cannot be put in practice. then why bother? "consult" is just one verb. there are other useful ones like "inform", "discuss", "extrapolate" etc... even "ask for permission".

3. or may it be the fact that the defiant and boorish challenge "do we have to consult anyone?" is mainly directed at the president's plaintive statement to the press that he was not informed, rather than the military staff who would not brook such demurral?

the bane of oriental cunning is its ability to destroy any spark of wisdom by depriving it totally of rationality. that lack of a sense of proportion is born of an often pathetic obeisance to the status quo and is enacted through an attempt toward revolutionary metamorphosis while desperately refusing to let go of the extant. the incompatibility with rationality stems from the fact that the "extant" has stopped being viable by any logic except its own, and an adaptive step away from it is mandatory for adaptation. therefore, oriental cunning is always half measures... you propose a verbal solution; you believe in ex post facto consultation; you threaten you won't play any more although the game is your only chance of succeeding; you try to sneak behind the powers that be, i.e. the military, before they get wise to you etc. and in that pattern lies the summary of oriental history.

time for a footnote to history: the medieval paranthesis between the 8th-14th centuries a.d. was not as marked by a preponderance of flourishing islam in science and technics as tradition has it. at the time, western mediterranean and its trans-alpine hinterland were invaded by nordigs in the process of civilization (***) and suffering another break in a millenia long procession of higher culture(s). the competition in the east was ostensibly between the cross and the crescent but was essentially waged within its own anti-mathematical, metaphysical oriental system of logic centered in an all powerful, all pervasive, imperial state structure that was true for both (orthodox) christians and muslims.

the so-called scientific and technological superiority of "islam" was a syro-phoenician legacy that belonged more to the lands it conquered which also found its way to constantinopolis, forever the true capital of the orient. that font of knowledge was put to use for the welfare and well being of the state .

the fall of the abbasid, byzantium, ottoman etc. empires was equally precipitated when wisdom and rationality, along with science and technics as well as fine arts, were not so much abolished as limited to the extent the power structure needed knowledge for statecraft. liberal, unchecked knowledge always poses a threat to rigid structures because it has a tendency for overflowing containment. therefore, rationality and science have been props for the far freer, far less centrally controlled, bourgeois form(s) of power.

the perennial peril is now pressing , the most conservative and lethargic heir to the tradition, turkey either to break cover and run toward what civilized through rationality and knowledge, or to cower and yearn for the nostalgic but possibly mythical golden age of islami-cum-oriental superiority.

(*) literally master, used as a form of address similar to mr., shorthand for master again. it was abandoned in the early turkish republic because it implied class differences and came to be reserved for the rather old fashioned, traditionalist gentlemen who had difficulty in understanding and accomodating the modern.
(**) normally, i zap the tv whenever i see tayyib effendi's rather handsome visage on the box, i find his rhetorical style and delivery an insult on rationality. this once, it was the first item on the news and i was making tea.
(***) becoming people of the civitas, cities that inherited greco-roman cultural residues - rather than nomadic barbarians with no need fro civilization

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