(By Ray D.)
It started in Turkey. It spread to Germany. The film "Valley of the Wolves Iraq" is the most expensive film ever produced in Turkey, where it has already reached mega-blockbuster status. Members of an audience in Ankara were quoted as saying: "Today I hated Americans more than ever." Across Europe, millions of Turkish and Middle Eastern youths have packed theatres to cheer the main character (himself a Turk) as he battles and kills the evil, psychotic American and Jewish villains on the big screen.
SPIEGEL ONLINE's coverage of the film has been psychotic as well. Suddenly the writers in the magazine's "Kultur" section are deeply concerned about "anti-American resentments" and the film's "extremely one-sided" approach to the Iraq war. If you listen carefully you can hear the hand wringing all the way from Hamburg to Hong Kong.
Isn't that rich? They must think we're suffering collective amnesia. Few organizations have done more to encourage, exploit and profit from the anti-American bonanza in Germany than SPIEGEL. In edition after edition the publication has vilified, demonized and caricatured America and Americans. In 2004, a writer for "Der Spiegel" bluntly admitted that his organization was using "crude anti-American covers" to please its "million readers."
US Mercenaries are Torturers...Blood for Oil...Bush's Vietnam...Operation Rambo...
Bosses of the World...Pax Americana...The Little Sheriff...The Conceited World Power... (Nope. No anti-American resentments here.)
And the list goes on. Let's not forget that when it comes to "extremely one-sided" coverage of Iraq, SPIEGEL ONLINE has also been avant-garde, not far behind Al-Jazeera. The publication has called the conflict a "debacle" or "disaster" or "fiasco" so many times it's hard to keep count. Reporting has been so overwhelmingly negative that any hope of balance or fairness has long been lost. There seems to be an unwritten rule that there is no such thing as positive news on Iraq.
And then the same magazine uprightly warns us of the dangers of "anti-American resentments" and "one-sided" views on Iraq in a (truly reprehensible) Turkish film. How heartwarming. How genuine. How touching...
US Foreign Policy: Time to Reassess Support for Turkish EU Membership?
Earlier today, the Washington Times reported the following on Turkey's biggest film hit:
""Valley of the Wolves" is not the work of independents or amateurs. With a budget of $10 million, it's the biggest-spending Turkish film in history. The international cast includes Hollywood actor Billy Zane of "Titanic."
Within three days of its release, the movie had been seen by 1.2 million people, a 40 percent increase on the previous viewing record.
At a gala performance earlier this month, the actors rubbed shoulders with Turkey's elite.
"I feel so proud of them all," said Emine Erdogan, wife of the prime minister, comfortably ensconced in a seat next to the actor playing Alemdar.
Although Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul insisted that the film was no worse than some of the productions of Hollywood studios, Turkish parliament leader Bulent Arinc praised its "realism." U.S. officials in Turkey laugh off the significance of the film, but a senior Washington official interviewed by the Turkish daily Milliyet last week expressed concern about its success in a secular Muslim country with a U.S. alliance since the early 1950s.
"Can you imagine the first lady or the head of the House of Representatives going to the gala performance of a film that could incite anti-Turkish feeling among Americans?" the official asked."
Perhaps the American "officials" in question should stop laughing so loud and start defending their nation for a change. Turkish enthusiasm for the dark anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism of "Valley of the Wolves Iraq" is just the latest in a series of troubling developments in US-Turkish relations. Just last year members of the Turkish public made Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" a bestseller for perhaps the first time since the 1930s. In 2003, Turks elected an Islamist government that refused the United States vital access to a northern staging area for the Iraq war, thereby placing thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens in harms way and prolonging the conflict.
In light of recent events, US policy makers should seriously reconsider whether strong support for Turkish membership in the European Union is consistent with national interests. American advocacy for Turkish accession has long antagonized and irritated many natural allies throughout Europe, including Germany's conservative Christian Democrats. Is such support for the inclusion of a poor, increasingly radical Muslim state in the European Union really worth the high political cost?
Endnote: You can always count on Hollywood to stick up for America. The sadistic American villain and the sinister Jewish doctor in "Valley of the Wolves Iraq" were both played by well-known American actors: Billy Zane (Titanic) and Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon) respectively.
UPDATE: Max Boot of the LA Times published an outstanding article entitled "The West as scapegoat." He points out that many Muslims (and others) would rather blame the USA, Israel and "the West" for all the world's problems rather than engage in some badly needed introspection and reform. He concludes: "Muslim nations will never make any progress unless they stop focusing on the offenses, real or imagined, visited upon them by the outside world and start looking within for what ails them."