The British author Paul Weston returns with a book review that first appeared in the Summer 2009 print edition of The Quarterly Review. It is republished here with the author’s permission.
A Bridge Too Far
by Philip Claeys and Koen Dillen, 2008.
Reviewed by Paul Weston
In 1963 a promise was given to Turkey that one day they might, eventually, subject to a great many caveats and in the fullness of time, gain membership of what was then the European Economic Community. In October 2004 this intentionally vague promise was unexpectedly called in — dependant only on a little legal tinkering here and there — when the European Commission advised the European Council (rather as Herr Hitler once “advised” his Generals) to start accession negotiations with Turkey.
That this may not be terribly beneficial for mainstream Europe seems lost on a good number of European politicians, including David Cameron who should really know better having had the advantage of an Eton and Oxford education. But sadly, Dave, as he likes to be known in order to get down with the workingman, has backed Turkey’s accession and will probably be the British Prime Minister when Turkey finally fulfils its entry requirements. Such political naiveté is not restricted to European politicians alone. President Obama, the most powerful man on the planet now joins Cameron in this clarion call of Western lunacy. One can only hope Mr Barack Hussein Obama has Christian Europe’s best interests at heart.
After all, the history of Europe and Turkey has consisted of unremitting violence in the main, carried out between disparate civilisations and religions over many centuries. The failed siege of Vienna in 1529 by Suleiman the Magnificent. The Venetians’ loss of Cyprus in 1573 to Suleiman’s son Selim, despite the destruction of his fleet by Pope Pius the Fifth’s Crusaders at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. The defeat by Jan Sobieski of the Ottoman army under Kara Mustafa Pasha at the gates of Vienna in 1683 and the final dismantling of the Ottoman Empire after backing the wrong horse in World War One. All have been documented in great detail, yet there is a dearth of information on modern day Turkey.
But that has now changed. Philip Claeys and Koen Dillen of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang Party have produced a devastating book that puts forward a variety of arguments regarding the unsuitability of Turkish entry to the EU. Written in 2008 and cleverly titled A Bridge Too Far it associates Asian Turkey’s link to European Turkey by bridge alone, with the 1974 book by Cornelius Ryan of the same title describing the overstretch of allied forces and their subsequent failure in capturing an all important bridge over the lower Rhine in Arnhem. The analogy of course, is the political overstretch and potential for catastrophe should the EU allow the admission of Turkey as a member state.
With quite magnificent chutzpah, or an equally magnificent lack of self-awareness, Taki Theodoracopulos’s opening paragraph in the foreword of Claeys and Dillen’s book sets the tone in his typically succinct manner: “Let’s not mince words. Inviting Turkey to become part of the European Union is the equivalent of a man recently married to a beautiful young bride inviting Don Giovanni to be his houseguest during the honeymoon. The concept is more than stupid — it is suicidal.”
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Claeys and Dillen flesh out this simplistic yet all too accurate description of a European death wish with basic reasoning and detailed analysis. First and foremost of the basics is that Turkey is not a European country. An obvious statement, but the EU does not always deal in the obvious. Four percent of Turkey’s total area is situated on the European continent; ninety-six percent is part of Asia. It shares some of its border with Iraq, Iran and Syria, hardly European buffer zones, one country with which the West has had two wars in fifteen years, another we may yet have to go with war with, and another which allegedly finances and arms movements deployed against Western interests today. In addition, the potentially explosive Kurdish question ceases to be a Middle Eastern problem and becomes a European dilemma instead, as does the Turkish army’s occupation of northern Cyprus.
Turkey is not a Christian country, as war historians will note. Admittedly, not many European countries can be labelled with such a moniker today, but Turkey is not even post-Christian. It is emphatically and undeniably Islamic, and whilst the Lisbon Treaty shamefully contains no reference to Europe’s Christian heritage in its founding documents, it does at least have the decency to mention shared values in article 1a:
“Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.”
If there is any religious inheritance in Europe today it is Judeo/Christian, and primarily Christian. It matters not that Christianity is declining. It has shaped our culture, our morality, our economy, our history and our very people. On this issue alone Turkey fails the criteria necessary for accession. On further issues of democracy and equality, particularly female equality, it fails again, which I shall come back to later.
The sheer size of Turkey brings another negative issue to the EU table. At almost 800,000 square kilometres she dwarfs Germany, the EU’s present largest country by over twice the area and almost matches her population numbers as well. Turkey currently has 71 million inhabitants compared to Germany’s 82 million, but Turkey is expected to expand to 100 million by 2050, whilst Germany, although not actually shrinking, will only grow courtesy of non-indigenous immigrants, the majority of whom just happen to Turkish.
This is of particular importance apropos the number of delegates any European country can send to the European parliament. The larger one’s population, the larger the number of delegates, thus the Europe of 2025 could find itself in the curious situation where an Islamic country is allowed to wield the most powerful bloc vote in Brussels’ European parliament, which itself sits in a city with a majority Islamic population.
Apologists for Turkey point out it is not a hard-line Islamic state such as Saudi Arabia, which is true, but it is not a democracy in the European sense of the word. Established after the end of the First World War under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey was catapulted into near modernity as that all too rare an entity in the Islamic world — a secular state.
But it is an increasingly uneasy secular state, with constant friction between religion and politics. There are two powers in Turkey, the secular army and the Islamist government. The current Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is all too aware of the fate of former Prime Minister Nezmettin Erbakan who was removed from power in 1997 and his Islamist Refah party outlawed by the Turkish army.
But Prime Minister Erdogan still pushes his luck. He has “form” as they say around the Old Bailey. He was jailed briefly in 1998 for quoting an Islamic “poem” at a public event, which included the words: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
Although promoting himself to the West as a voice of secular reason, Erdogan is also on record as stating there is no such thing as moderate Islam. Worse still, it was the description of Islam as moderate, the term so over-utilised by the BBC as a projection of what they deeply, deeply desire Islam to be, which so enraged him. Speaking on Kanal D TV’s Arena program on August 21, 2007, Erdogan said: ‘these descriptions are very ugly; it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
In 2008 Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) was found guilty of promoting pro-Islamic anti-secularist ideology. Had seven of the eleven justices concurred, the AKP would have been disbanded and Erdogan removed from power, but as only six found against the AKP, they were allowed to remain in-situ, albeit with their state funding halved.
Claeys and Dillen outline in disturbing detail the gradual hardening of Islamism into a Turkey never envisaged by Ataturk, and raise the decidedly important question of Turkish immigration into borderless EU countries should Turkey gain accession. They quote EU officials who believe only 2.7 million Turks will move to Europe, the same EU officials no doubt who thought only 17 thousand Poles would come to England, rather than the 2 million who of course did just that.
Former Dutch Minister Rita Verdonk stated that two thirds of young Turkish men in Holland look for marriage partners in their country of origin, a figure replicated by young Pakistanis in Britain and presumably therefore by Muslims in Germany as well, which is home to almost 3 million Turks.
The EU officials’ figure of a mere 2.7 million immigrants is laughable. Germany alone may take that number in a matter of months, the rest of Europe possibly ten times that. And regardless of whether they actually move to traditional European countries, the 71 million new EU Turks would transform the Muslim population of the EU from 25 million to almost 100 million overnight, and with higher numbers comes lower assimilation into the host countries culture, helped along by the Turkish Prime Minister’s speech to 16,000 cheering Turks in Cologne, Germany, in February 2008, when he told them “assimilation is a crime against humanity.“
This has serious implications not just for social cohesion, but also for the economy. Claeys and Dillen point toward a 2006 poverty study by Turkstat (The Turkish Statistics Institute) which revealed 13 million Turks living below the poverty line in a country whose idea of poverty is markedly different to ours, and where over half a million people are close to starvation. GDP per head is only seventeen percent of the EU average, with almost half of that measly percentage made up by what Claeys and Dillen politely refer to as the “informal sector” — or the black market to you and me.
Their chapter entitled “Social and Economic Integration is Impossible” crunches a lot of numbers and statistics. The essence being the economic foolishness in believing an enormous, backward, poor, corrupt, agricultural society could be absorbed into the bosom of the EU without incurring crippling costs in EU subsidies should Turks decide to stay in Turkey, or massive welfare payments should they decide the grass is greener in say, for example, the valleys of Wales.
Claeys and Dillen, not surprisingly, devote a detailed study of human rights abuse under the heading “Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, Oppression and State Denial” which deals with a variety of unpleasantness. The ethnic cleansing of the Armenians as a historical fact, the ongoing oppression of women and potential virginity tests prior to marriage, the thousands of honour killings and the 35% of males who believe the killing of adulterous women to be acceptable, police brutality, torture and the imprisonment of journalists who contravene Turkish penal code 301 which laid down jail terms of six months to three years for “anyone who openly denigrates the government, judicial institutions or military or police structures.“
The result of all the above makes for a scenario where, unlike bogus asylum seekers seeking economic sanctuary in England, genuine Turkish refugees attempt to seek genuine asylum in any EU country which will take them, leading Claeys and Dillen to note Europe cannot recognise political or sexual refugees from Turkey whilst simultaneously accepting that country as a member state.
Given the various failings of Turkey as a potential 28th member state of the EU, would it be cynical to think “if Turkey, then why not Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia?” Well, cynical or not, it has already been thought of. In late 2007, banana toting British Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, floated the idea that the EU should expand to include North African and Middle Eastern countries, thereby extending his penchant for bent exotic fruit beyond mere foodstuffs to entire republics. That Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy did not immediately deride such a perverse viewpoint — as one might have expected — speaks volumes, as does the bickering between Europe’s two most powerful politicians who argue the merits and debits of a “Mediterranean Union” between themselves.
President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya has slightly more sinister thoughts than David Milliband, if not equally as unhinged. On April 10th, 2006, Gaddafi made a speech broadcast by Al Jazeera TV in which he put forward a vision of Europe made to the Colonel’s not so secret recipe:
“There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe. Without swords, without guns, without conquests, the fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades. Allah mobilises the Muslim nation of Turkey and adds it to the European Union. That’s another fifty million Muslims. There will be 100 million Muslims in Europe. Europe is in a predicament, and so is America. They should agree to become Islamic in the course of time, or else declare war on the Muslims.”
War is one issue that Claeys and Dillen neglect to cover. Young Turkish males mired in grinding poverty would no doubt be attracted to the EU wages paid by the barely disguised future European army. Indeed, as the ratio of military age Turks is almost double that of the EU population, Europe could find itself with an army whose ranks contain a significant minority of Muslim soldiers. What would be the situation if the EU felt compelled to attack Iran, or the army was called in to put down Allahu-Akbaring adolescents in Andalucía, mutinous Muslims in Malmö or insurrectionary Islamists in Istanbul? The potential for inciting World War Three hardly bears thinking about.
But such an omission takes nothing away from Claeys and Dillen’s painstaking analysis as to why Turkey should never, ever, be accepted into the Europe Union. Justice cannot be done to A Bridge Too Far in the few words this review allows, but to finish what Taki and his reference to European suicide started, it is surely no less improvident for European Christians to promote the accession of Turkey, than for Turkeys to promote the celebration of Christmas.
©2009 Paul Weston