Does the US support `moderate Islam` and/or moderate Islamic governments? A lot of people hate USA

My title was too long: Does the US supports moderate Islam and/or moderate Islamic governments? A lot of people hate USA for this reason.

Hello, :slight_smile:

I’ll try to be as simple and clear as possible.
Let’s take Turks and Turkey as an example.
There is an Islamic government government in Turkey: AK Party (Justice and Development Party) and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Some people believe they are liberal Muslim or progressive Muslim or moderate Muslim. But on the other hand there are people who think there is not such a thing like liberal Islam. At least Justice and Development Party is not liberal Islamic party. They have their roots in old Islamic parties.

Perhaps, you heard Greater Middle East Initiative (project). Turkish PM said he was co-chairman of this project. And according to some Turks, Tayyip Erdogan does what the US wants, this GMEI (Greater Middle East Initiative (project)) is a US-backed project, and one of the missions of this project is to establish an moderate Islamic government in Middle East, and this Middle Eastern country is Turkey.

Some generals of Turkish army who are against the current government are imprisoned because they are accused of trying to topple the current government. One of the supporters of these imprisonments is a newspaper named Taraf. And the founder of this newspaper’s husband is an US citizen who had some connections with the US government and CIA. This makes some people, especially Turks, believe that this imprisonments are US-backed and part of GMEI. If these generals were not imprisoned, they would topple the Islamic government.

People and generals in Turkey who are against the current Islamic government are accused of being against the globalization and not being able to understand the world and the new order. And they are called national socialists
So… Islamists are open-minded and more global than anti-Islamists in Turkey. Is that what the US and the Europe think? Isn’t that ridiculous?

Why would the US and European countries “warn” the Turkish military to keep out of politics, even thought the Turkish military is the best bulwark against Islamic extremism in Turkey? That makes me think they want Turkey to turn into an Islamic state.

Since this is not a simple factual question, this is better suited to Great Debates than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I assume with international relations there are always two reasons for doing something, the reason given to the public and the real reason. I don’t know what either is in this situation.

I’m not an expert on Turkey but using strongman to suppress Islamic movements has backfired in Iran, Egypt, Iraq, etc. The frustration over authoritarianism and kleptocracy gets channeled into Islamist movements. At least with democratic organizations people can vote in the Islamists then if they screw up vote them out. It would be better for shaping public opinion than supporting a secular strongman only to see him replaced by an Islamist one.

What makes you think Islamist and military are the only options here? This is Turkey, not Egypt.

What the US would like is to stop Islamic terror in the West. The thought is that terrorism is mostly a political ploy by Islamicist to gain support in their home countries. In autocratic countries political dissent is met with violence so opposition movements attract extremists. Thus the only choice is between the autocrats and the violent extremist opposition. By encouraging democracy and legalizing poltical dissent you encourage people who are moderate to engage in politics and crowd out the extremists. It is unclear if Erdogan and his party are actual moderates or Islamists who are using democracy to get power and will transition to autocracy once their power is consolidated.
In reality the US has very little power in Turkey and is mostly a spectator. If the Turks want liberal democracy they will have to vote out Erdogan and throw him out if he does not leave willingly. Over the long run, it is very difficult to craft a government that is better than the people.

Because Islamic government made police department Islamic too. I mean, they really turned the police into a community which has a lot of Islamic zealots. So, I am asking you, if the police has plastic bullets, gas bombs, pepper spray and “water panzers”, how can normal public people fight against them? People will need weapons too. But they can’t get any. So the military should interfere.

If I am wrong and/or sound childish, please correct me.

How does any society resist oppression? The government pretty much always has an overwhelming advantage in terms of weapons.

The western democracies cling to freedom by the near-universal belief in it. And…with Hitler…that failed. Germany wanted democracy, but wasn’t able to sustain it. Russia had a one-time parliament. So did Iran. Egypt looks like it’s getting a second chance. The Egyptian military learned from history: they know what Hitler and Khomeini did to their military. Massive purges, followed by destructive wars.

If Obama told the military to clean out the Republicans from Congress, the military could do it in ten heartbeats. And won’t. We have a military that would refuse to follow such an order.

But that’s today. The moral environment could change. In twenty years, there might be enough people who really, really hate gays, or blacks, or Hispanics, or Jews (or hypothetical historians) that a massive-scale violation of civil rights could occur. No one is ever guaranteed freedom, and guns are not the best way to attain it or to preserve it.

Military meddling in politics is against US and European values. So our default position is to oppose such. While Western governments will consider other possibilites, there has to be an unusually strong case to make us go against our default position.

I’d say that the best bulwark against Islamic extremism is democratic rotation in office. If Morsi had been allowed to serve out his term, and then been turned out of office due to extremism and poor economic performance, future Islamist leaders would have been incentivized to become more moderate so as to gain re-election. Instead, democracy in Egypt has been shown to be a scam, and the mantra going forward will be that the Muslim Brotherhood was never given a fair chance.

Now, if the incumbent civilian ruler refuses to leave office after losing an election, I’d be for the military escorting him or her out of Dodge (or even out of Washington DC), and then promptly returning to barracks.

You realize that people have faced soldiers equiped with automatic rifles firing real bullets, even recently?

Are you Turkish yourself, by the way?

Erdogan is a bit of an authoritarian, but I can’t see any evidence that democracy in Turkey is currently in any danger. And if pushes comes to shoves, anyway, the army won’t side in support of a muslim autocracy. So, there’s no risk of coup, either, IMO.

As for why western nations would want Erdogan to promote his views in the middle east, it seems it makes perfect sense to me. What they (you?) have in Turkey is exactly the concept the USA/Europe would want to have some appeal amongst religiously-inclined people in curently unstable Muslim countries : a moderate Muslim party put democratically in charge and well disposed towards western countries. If people in the middle east who currently support more extremist tendancies could be convinced by this example…

If it was followed in, say, Egypt, everybody in the west would sleep better at night. And if it more or less succeded as a government, this might gain a lot of traction and even conceivably put an end to the influence of more or less extremist Muslim factions.

I guess the same apply to Israel, by the way. Although Erdogan made some symbolic gestures against this country, he has no interest in being actively hostile to it. So, a good role model for them as well. If the worst threats Isrel had to expect from its neighbours were cargos of baby formula sent to the Gaza strip and the cancellation of military training programs…

About this specifically : I’m sure they’re well aware that the Turkish army would be the last recourse in the worst case scenario. But Turkey is a long way from facing such a worst case scenario, and letting over-enthusiastic generals plot to overthrow a democratically elected governement because it might have nefarious purposes isn’t exactly the current tradition in western countrues. And I can’t see why they would want Turkey’s political situation to revert to what it was in the 70s. Erdogan or not, on the overall, Turkey has changed a lot for the better during the last 40 years.

For example?

A bit? Define “a bit”

Erdoğan in the past said: “Democracy is not a goal, it is a tool.”
It is clear that Tayyip Erdoğan sees parliamentary democracy as the tool by which the will of the majority (incarnated, naturally enough, by himself) is imposed upon the minority.

The U.S. and western democracies in general would like to see stable democracies in place of autocratic regimes, whether those are run by religious extremists or the military, whose abuses cause upheaval and instability, opening the door for terrorist states.

Yes, it is easier to “hate USA” than to join with opponents (some of whom worship God in a slightly different way than you :eek:) and work to solve your problems peacefully.

What are these “moderate Islamic governments” of which you speak?

slightly :rolleyes: No, it is not slightly. Sorry. From your point of view, them may seem similar. But they are not.

For example, Erdoğan’s government.

Uh-huh, a fine example of moderate leadership. :dubious:

Quite. ‘Moderate for Islamic parties’ /= ‘moderate.’

I think you don’t understand me.
Yes, the article is right. What I am trying to tell you is that in the past this Erdogan’s government got support from some Western countries’ governments and that Erdoğan is not moderate.

Didn’t I imply that I did not agree with Erdoğan’s being “not moderate” and he was closer to extremist?
Why did you think I find Erdoğan moderate Muslim?

Fine, we agree, please excuse the misunderstanding.

What I don’t find credible is the thesis you seem to be defending in your opening post, i.e. “according to some Turks, Tayyip Erdogan does what the US wants, this GMEI (Greater Middle East Initiative (project)) is a US-backed project, and one of the missions of this project is to establish an moderate Islamic government in Middle East, and this Middle Eastern country is Turkey.”

Why would you believe “Erdogan does what the US wants”, and that the U.S. supports a “moderate Islamic government in Middle East”? There is some reason to think that the U.S. government liked the idea of a truly moderate, democratically elected government in Turkey to serve as a counterweight to countries like Iran and Syria. But you’ll have trouble demonstrating that U.S. officials urged Erdogan to take steps toward a Muslim theocracy and to crush legitimate protests.

Because they don’t understand the unique role the Turkish military plays in protecting democracy in that state. Also, because they are justifiably worried about the Turkish military getting too big for its boots. Even the most benevolent junta sometimes forgets about giving power back to the people.

This is only a theory/idea/whatever. First, I personally don’t believe that the US officials persuades Erdogan and his government to take steps towards a Muslim theocracy and I know I can’t prove this theory. But I said there were a lot of people, columnist etc. who believe this theory to be true. The reason that people believe this idea is that “GMEI” and Erdogan’s mentioning he is a vice-president of GMEI.