I have seen and met thousands of politically active people throughout this country. The political culture in this country is one that would make any non-Turkish observer marvel. Many diplomats who end up serving in this country spend a good deal of time deciphering what on Earth is going on here. They often leave even more perplexed or conclude that the fundamentals never change here. In some respect they are right. The fundamentals rarely change here. The last decade has seen a remarkable drive to change many things and to some extent that has been achieved. Yet in many other areas we are back to square one. The Kurdish issue is a prime example. That intractable problem -- which we even have difficulty defining and over which tens of thousands have been killed, an unknown number have been injured and God knows how many lives, hopes and expectations have been shattered -- remains very much alive.
When I decided to run for politics in 2007 my expectation was that we would be competing against other political parties. Contrary to my expectation, one usually ends up competing with people within one's own political movement. That is a competition that is as relentless as it can get. I have never seen people more imaginative as those who were competing with one another. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams the scenarios and conspiracies some were willing to plot, and others were willing to entertain. One wonders what could happen if they employed such imagination in formulating new policies that would address some of the most pressing issues confronting this country.
Our leaders are very open to badmouthing campaigns. Running extremely centralized organizations, they are surrounded by circles that filter access to the leader and the information that reaches him. Over time leaders become extremely dependent on these close circles and what passes as truth there becomes truth in the eyes of the leader. One day I should write about my personal experience and observations in detail. I truly look forward to that day.
One of the most troubling aspects in politics for me was the bitter inability to trust most of my counterparts. Even the people you consider closest to you cannot be trusted. They are very guarded and appear to be friends on the surface. Their real intentions or motivations cannot be easily ascertained. I have never seen so many people, especially those within the foreign policy community, who hate each other so passionately. Given how passionately they despise each other, one does wonder why these people are together in the same political movement. Big egos, little intellectual capacity, elementary language skills and a thorough lack of understanding of how the world functions are some of the qualities I have come to observe over time.
There is no doubt that politics is about power. Power is very attractive and in many other political cultures there are probably similar intricacies at play. However, Turkey is a country that seems from the outside much more orderly and predictable. With one foot in the West political processes are assumed to be more rational. This is not the case. The political culture here is based on confrontation. It is quite macho. Compromise is a dirty word. Despite the fact that we thoroughly need a grand compromise in this country, each side is working to impose its own values onto the other. There is little understanding of working together for the same country. Divided in our minds, in our psyches we seem to be condemned to this endless bickering and confrontation inside. Hence the true inner peace and societal accord this country so strongly longs for eludes us again…