The most important reason of the Western global hegemony for the rest of the World has been its ‘soft power’ in the fields of politics, economy, art, sport, science, education and morality. The rest of the World felt that they had already been defeated before the West’s incomparable power. The West’s invincibility and inapproachable hegemony were providing to the Western World an influence over the rest beyond its natural limit and real power. Thus not only Turkey but also other developing countries have followed it and imitated the Western World, and perceived it as the ne plus ultra for more than a century. Although the Western ‘legend’ deteriorated during the World Wars and the Cold War it was still strong until recent years. Western countries have skillfully used this power in the fields of diplomacy and politics. Especially most of the leaders and the intellectuals in the Muslim world accepted the West’s hegemony at the beginning and they obeyed to the West without any significant resisting. Of course there was a real gap between the West and the East, yet the gap in the minds of the East was larger than the fact. The West perception in the Eastern mind has long provided easy victories for the Western states. However this ‘soft’ power has recently been weakening significantly:
The rise of Chinese, Indian, Turkish and Brazilian economies etc. has the responsibility in some degrees for the West’s deterioration in the in the field of economy, sports and some other areas. But the relatively more fundamental fields for the Western superiority have always been politics and morality. Contrary to supposed opinion, the main reason of deterioration was not the 11 September attacks alone, but it was the Western strategy and state of mind shaped by the 9/11 attacks.
Before 9/11 whenever Turkey had a human rights violation problem, the West had been given as an example for Turkey to be inspired. Whenever there was a crises in Turkish parliament it had always been said that Turkish parliament had to take example of the English parliament or Turkish policemen had to take example of French policemen and Turkish courts had to take example of Germen or Swiss courts. It was proposed that the countries like the U.S., Italy and Belgium had been given as examples for the overcoming of rigidity of law and articles of laws violating the human rights. After 9/11 the World had innumerable traumatic events insomuch as that it became very difficult to quote as precedent of the West on the issues of democratization, respect to human rights for Turkey. Thanks to the recent reforms, Turkey is now not worse than any Western country in terms of democratization, human rights and minority rights. At least the gap is now narrower. The Germans in Turkey for example are more comfortable and free than the Turks in Germany.
Turkish people still remembers the arbitrary abuses committed by the US forces in the Abu Ghurayb prison, Iraq. As the American media reported that all the torture inflicted by US troops was an official policy of the U.S., all the tortures subjected by torturer U.S. military were coming under the cognizance of their commanders and it is not a secret that the American Secretary of Defense was aware of all these human right abuses in Iraq. Abu Ghurayb ‘disaster’ is not an exception in American policies. Almost every day, news comes out regarding torture, rape, massacre etc. committed by the Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan. The latest news was that some of the US soldiers raped a girl, killed the rest of her family and burned their home.
Guantanamo is another shame on humanity. The implementations in Guantanamo have not seen in any Turkish prisons through out the history. It is true; torture is a reality which would not be denied by the Middle Eastern countries. But today methods of torture similar to Guantanamo case have not systematically and consciously been employing in any Middle Eastern countries. None of the Middle Eastern countries’ policemen mishandle holy books by urinating on or walking on top of them as experienced in Guantanamo Prison.
Unfortunately, many abuse and violation in Afghanistan follow the ones in Guantanamo and Abu Ghurayb. Similar to the Iraqi case, the US soldiers have killed innumerable Afghan men and women. The American occupation solved no economic or social problem of ordinary Afghan men. The leaders have been changed, more people killed, yet the all of the real problems are there.
The worst thing is that the US and the West in general have been making efforts to make all these mistakes permanent by making laws. Today the British law for instance is more rigid than Turkish terrorism act and it gives more authorization to its police forces than Turkey gives. Even their custody period in the British system is like punishment time. Thanks to the new law, US intelligent services are now able to eavesdrop on terror suspects without any warrant. And this paranoia in law making has increasingly been continuing.
In the US one of the presidential candidates can say that United States should reserve the right to bomb Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, in retaliation for any attack on American territories. One of the Democratic Party members and candidate for Presidency is talking about a possible occupation of Pakistan and arrestment of its leader. We understand that the US promises more blood and violence. It is becoming more difficult to be a foreigner in the U.S. and Europe. Even Netherlands and Germany, known as liberal countries, lay down rules prepared with a racist logic.
In brief the West has been thoroughly losing its model characteristic. The West’s soft power has been evaporating though it will need more soft power against global terrorism.
8 August 2007