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Columnists

The Return of the Ottoman Empire and the West

April 15, 2022
By Theodore Karakostas

During the twentieth century at some of the most horrific and tragic periods in Greek history, prominent western officials would play prominent roles as enablers for crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Turks. One such individual was the infamous Admiral Mark Bristol who was the American High Commissioner at Constantinople between 1918 and 1922. Bristol was an admirer of Mustafa Kemal who indiscriminately slaughtered Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians throughout Asia Minor and Anatolia. At a time when the western world has made it a point to denounce Vladimir Putin, Kemal remains an admired figure for many in the American foreign policy establishment. Bristol made the infamous comment that “Greeks are about the worst race in the Near East.”

He said this during the time when the Turks were slaughtering the Christians and soon after Kemal’s General Nureddin Pasha would proceed to set the fire in Smyrna that would take the lives of many thousands Armenians and Greeks. Mark Bristol did not represent the majority of American officials. His voice was in fact a minority one, but his influence in the Near East was all powerful. He was influential and powerful enough to order the censorship of reports regarding Turkish orchestrated genocide.

In September 1955, under the influence of the British who refused to withdraw from Cyprus, the Turkish government ‘protested’ against giving Cyprus to Greece. These ‘protests’ and the subsequent government-sponsored pogroms in Constantinople which led to the physical beatings and rapes of ordinary Greeks and the destruction of churches, homes, and businesses were later revealed to have been organized by the Turkish government.

The information was released after the Coup of 1960 by Turkish Army officers. At the time, the American government’s foreign policy was that of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who not only failed to condemn the Turkish terror, but who subsequently threatened to stop aid to Greece if Athens did not drop the matter. Let it be remembered that Greek Army Officers serving NATO at Smyrna were physically assaulted and in return neither NATO as a whole nor any individual member states condemned the violence against these officers serving NATO.

In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus twice. The late journalist Christopher Hitchens, who was a staunch proponent of democracy and human rights everywhere, denounced then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a war criminal, citing his support for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and other atrocities elsewhere. Greece’s history with Washington is complex and the reality is there have been villains in the U.S. foreign policy establishment that have always favored Turkey. It is now tragically clear that Washington’s traditional pro-Turkish policy is coming back with a vengeance despite the fact that Erdogan is a jihadist and his government has supported ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria.

Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland is visiting Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. She has made very clear in an interview that she favors Turkey as a source for energy in order to depend less on Russia. In addition, while in Cyprus she said the Russians would be an “immoral partner.” She said this in a country that was invaded by Turkey in 1974, an attack that was accompanied by ethnically-motivated mass killings, rapes, and forcible displacements.
In other words, ethnic cleansing.

During the last twenty years of rule in Turkey by former Prime Minister and current President Erdogan, Turkey has embraced its Ottoman past and a desire for jihadism. The media condemns the Russians for revering the Tsarist Empire, but where is the condemnation for Turkish glorification of the Ottoman Empire? When the Caliphate (ISIS) which included over a third of both Iraqi and Syrian territory was committing mass genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims the Turks were helping them. Turkey was selling oil to ISIS even as that murderous group was running slave markets in which Yazidi women were for sale.

Turkey permitted volunteers from America and Europe to pass through its territory to join ISIS. Turkey funded groups in Syria affiliated with Al Qaeda. The horrors of 9/11 were forgotten, and so Turkish support for the successors to Osama Bin Laden was ignored. Erdogan’s Turkey is on the rise and its influence in Washington could become just as strong as the influence of the Kemalists used to be. Victoria Nuland in her interview did not even pretend to support Greece and Cyprus against Turkey.

It has become clear that the United States intends to continue to ignore Turkish expansionism. Victoria Nuland could become the next Mark Bristol or Henry Kissinger. These are all officials outside the mainstream of America but extremely powerful and they have shown how devastating their policies could be for Greece and Cyprus. Nuland will be visiting Greece with the demand that Greece fall into line with NATO. All Greeks everywhere should not forget that Prime Minister Mitsotakis has asked NATO to intervene to stop Turkey’s expansionist claims on Greek territory.

NATO has refused to support Greece’s territorial integrity much as it refused to condemn the anti-Greek pogroms of 1955 while enabling and permitting the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus. The overemphasis by NATO on Russia as a threat completely ignores Turkey’s potential as a threat. The United States, NATO, and the European Union have all forgotten that Erdogan threatened to unleash two million middle eastern refugees on Europe.
The Turks have much power to wreak havoc on Europe.

Victoria Nuland’s willingness to depend on Turkey for energy will contribute to the emerging new Ottoman Empire that Erdogan has fantasized about his entire life. While we are blanketed by the media coverage over Ukraine, the horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated by Azerbaijani forces against Armenia in 2020 have been completely ignored and unreported. Azerbaijani war crimes were assisted by Turkey. Greeks should reflect with great consideration the difficulties arising from Turkey and its continued backing from Washington. Victoria Nuland should be considered hostile and a threat to the security and territorial integrity of Greece, Cyprus, and Armenia.

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