by George Gratsos and Costas Souyoultzoglou*
We are unfortunately re-living a period that closely resembles the first forty years of the 20th Century. The first was the dissolution of Imperial Germany with Hitler trying to revenge the treaty of Versailles. Now we are belatedly facing a replay in the form of the Treaty of Sevres with Turkey trying to reinstate the Ottoman Empire.
Both cases are similar as both had/have at the time megalomaniac leaders trying to revive the past with a lot of other players acting other important roles.
We have been here before
There are many similarities between Hitler’s and Erdogan’s rise to power.
-Both were born to middle class families.
-Both had religious fixations which they used in their rise to power.
-Both could not come to terms with the loss of their countries’ empires.
-Hitler, a rabid Jew hater, in 1938 imposed a fine of 1 billion Reichsmarks ($400M) on the German Jewish community. 6M+ Jews were also exterminated.
-Under Erdogan, Turkey is neither a democracy nor a sharia state but rather a kleptocratic one using Islam to legitimize these practices on a moral basis. In the early twentieth century Armenian and other minorities based, working and trading from Istambul to Smyrna and beyond were expulsed or exterminated by the Turks.
-Both thought their countries should regain their lost empires and set out to do it.
-Both had/have illusions of grandeur.
-Both were jailed for a relatively short time for their beliefs but returned unchanged.
The wishful Appeasers
-Original Play: McDonald, Baldwin, Chamberlain
-RePlay: Merkel, Trump, Stoltenberg and probably others
-Original Play: Churcill, De Gaul, FDR
-RePlay: Mitsotakis, Macron, Kurtz and probably others
I think that the above outlines the personalities. Their subsequent careers and actions followed suit. Both Primadonas created a substantial following and turned it into political power. They tried to make a substantial war machine to implement their ambitions. Nazi Germany greatly overextended itself and, as most “conquerors”, suffered catastrophic defeat. Turkey is following the same path.
Every country’s or group of countries’ resources are variously limited. If they are spread too thin the countries will invariably fail. That is what happened to Nazi Germany. It had spread all over Europe, a large part of the USSR, North Africa, and Atlantic sea lanes.
Turkey is already spread on many fronts: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Balkans and Sudan. This is a drain on its resources. The benefits have not yet appeared. So are its constant overflights over Greek aerospace and various naval incidents, all of which have been successfully repelled.
Furthermore Turkey’s economy is already in a tailspin. The EU will shortly be deciding on sanctions. If they are well thought through and effective that alone will make Turkey’s sustainability suffer further. Erdogan’s bravado and useless posturing is making him weaker by the day, pushing him into a corner. Not stronger. Yet he fails to realize it. What would you expect from someone who prospers on peddling human misery of refugees and other immigrants seeking a better life?
The wishful appeasers and their cohorts are exacerbating problems as they always do.
Unlike western democratic leaders, the Primadonas will continue on their high horses as they always do, all the way to destruction. They are blind to mundane problems. They will follow their vision to the end. Don’t expect a change of mentality. This should have been clear from their ever more strident rhetoric. “Kazan-Kazan” for the “NeoSultan” is “heads I win, tails you lose”. Anyone who thinks differently lives in Dreamland. Don’t judge him by western democratic standards. How can the EU with a population of 435M be manipulated by Turkey of 82M. Can the EU look at the mirror and feel content? No.
It has to take a decisive stand. We have “Nothing to fear but fear itself.”
We need the stamina of “sweat, toil, blood and tears” together with the resolve of “we shall fight them on the beaches, on the hills, … we shall never surrender” and surely not carry on discussions and accommodations with dictators. That is for the like of countries that were overrun by Hitler in a day or so.
The EU should change its attitude on realizing the above ASAP.
*Ph.D. Highest Honors U of the Aegean, B.Sc. MIT and London School of Economics& Political Science