In an interview last evening Pat Buchanan analyzed the mid-East situation in the same way as my post earlier yesterday. Maybe he is reading this blog! Maybe. :) :)! It's doubtful though. I got crosswise with him in '92 by not supporting him when he ran for president. However, he didn't exact retribution as opponents on the other side have...in some of the worst ways. I may write about that in "the book" if time permits.
Seriously, whether or not one likes or supports Pat, he is a very well-informed person and an analytical thinker among millions who aren't. His conclusions about the real transformation taking place in the area are absolutely correct, including his assessment of Turkey under Erdogan (although he mispronounces Erdogan's name..bad boy). I'm reminded of a couple of incidents in Turkey -- Istanbul and Yalova. On several occasions people would tell me that "only 7% of their people were radical." It was clearly orchestrated -- tour guides, hotel managers, the guy who escorted me from my hotel to a night club to "protect" me from panhandlers (with whom I had no problems), the man who took me to a night club where he played in a band and even business associates. During a break in a business meeting, the company director, with no obvious instigation, made the same declaration to me. I said, "Mr. Yilmaz, I understand that, others have told me. I believe you and I have many Muslim friends in the USA and elsewhere who would think similarly. So, why don't the 93% of non-radicals (good guys) take care of the 7%?" He looked straight at me and said (English was perfect), "Dr. Mann, we know you as an intelligent person (he'd read my PR I suppose!). We think maybe you know the reason." I didn't, although I assumed it was out of fear, but said no more about it. I was treated very well and the relationships were excellent. No desire to damage them. A short time after that visit, Al Qaida bombed Istanbul's Taksim Square, the very area where we enjoyed dining and friendly discussions away from work. Soon I received an e-mail from Mr. Yilmaz saying, "Dr. Mann, I think now we understand more about why you asked the question. WE DEMOCRACIES MUST STICK TOGETHER TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM." We never discussed it in detail again. I never fully comprehended why he spoke of the situation in that way, but he was a thoughtful and good man. I lost contact in the ensuing five or six years. I have fond memories of the friendly relationships, the great food (especially the roasted chestnuts and some wonderful mid-east food from the street vendors in Istanbul) and more. My sense is that it will be quite different in decades hence, perhaps sooner.