As the Bush Administration's Big Bang strategy continues to unfold in the Middle East (i.e., the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as a trigger for political change throughout the region), no one country confronts more peril or promise than Turkey, because no other country can play a more destructive or constructive role in demonstrating to the Muslim world just how modernity, pluralism, and markets can thrive within a state that is at once both secular in form and Islamic in content.
Whether Turks aspire to this pivotal role or not is inconsequential, because history has thrust it upon them. Your people, your nation, your state plays "lead goose" to the integration process that must inevitably occur between Europe and the Islamic Middle East, and your current negotiations for membership in the European Union place you squarely in the docket of history's judgment of whether a "clash of civilizations" shall reign supreme or be superseded by their convergence.
In this fateful moment, Turkey will be judged as much by its actions as inaction, as much by its fears as its forbearance, as much by its wisdom as its will. I know there is great suspicion within your country as to America's aims in trying to "transform" the Middle East, and I welcome them, for your vigilance in steering my country toward the necessary next steps is quite vital to the success of this ambitious strategy, one that many Americans likewise view with suspicion regarding the possible outcomes and fear for loved ones sacrificed.
But I have always believed, and continue to believe, that no Global War on Terrorism can be won unless the West can connect the Middle East to the larger world of globalization--in a fair and just manner--before the radical jihadists can disconnect it and, by doing so, sentence hundreds of millions of Muslims to lives of continued deprivation and humiliation in a world where the rest of humanity will enjoy a far better path because of successful integration into the global economy. In that grand struggle, Turkey is far more than pivotal. Indeed, it may well prove to be history's tipping point.
If this Blueprint for Action convinces you--in any way--of how important Turkey can be to this struggle, then I will consider myself well paid for my effort in crafting it.
I welcome your debate, your questions, your comments. Please reach me at email@example.com.
Thomas P.M. Barnett