David Cameron went out to the Muslim East, went to Turkey, not as a statesman but as a salesman, flogging his nation's wares. He wore a suit which, at least in the photographs, is so cheesy-looking in cut and fabric (it's an art in reverse to spend so much money and be so ill-dressed) he was like the Head of the Board of Trade, or the thrusting C.E.O. of some company. When he talked in Turkey, to Turkey, about Turkey, it was all about economic matters. The rest was mere fluff -- or rather the rest Cameron took to be merely unimportant, additional material to win Turkish good-will. And in his indifference to other matters, his nonchalance about a threat to Great Britain and to other members of the E.U. and to all the countries in the imperiled and confused West, a peril that would become gigantic were Turkey admitted to the E.U., David Cameron revealed himself to be a perfect specimen of a certain species that now rules over us, almost everywhere -- that is, grasping Economic Man, Homo Economicus, who hardly understands that anything exists other than getting and spending.
This new Economic Man would not only support, but he would "fight," for Turkey's admission to the E.U. He seemed to have no idea why others, including many in the present governments of France and Germany, would be so against Turkey's entry into the E.U. Surely it was all based on unseemly prejudice against Muslims, a misconception about Islam, for who, looking around the world today, or recalling the events of the past 1350 years, and especially the many encounters between Christendom and Islam, could possibly have any reason to feel a sense of alarm, at the prospect of Turkey, with 80 million people (99% of whom are Muslim), entering the E.U., and its citizens -- and any other Muslims who might, as Erdgoan recently suggested, be granted Turkish citizenship upon request -- could travel everywhere, live anywhere, in the member states of the E.U.
He didn't care what he said, or what it might take, as long as he made a good impression on this new "economic power" (a power that has been greatly exaggerated, as will become apparent by the next election in Turkey) so that Turks would buy British goods.
He proved not only that he had no sense of what was most important, and was willing to come as a supplicant to Erdogan, that is to a regime that has become, pari passu with the Return To Islam that has been orchestrated so relentlessly, and with such cunning, and in so doing, to damage the morale of Turkish secularists.
Those secularists have a good chance to defeat Erdogan at the next election, if they can obtain the support of the Alevis alarmed by new Sunni aggression, and if they can unite around a single candidate instead of, as in the past, being hopelessly divided. And if they return to power, one suspects that they will not be kind to those who, like Cameron, came and paid tribute to the worst regime in Turkish history -- worst, that is, if you define "worst" as you and I and all educated people do, as that which is most sinisterly imbued with the spirit and loyal to the letter, of Islam.
Cameron perhaps does not know what Gladstone wrote about the Turks and their malign acts, at the time of the Bulgarian Wars. Perhaps Cameron has never heard of the Bulgarian Wars. Perhaps he's never heard about what happened to any of the South Slaves, perhaps he could not understand the reference in "Anna Karenina" to Vronsky and the campaign to help fellow Slavs against the Turks. Or perhaps he, Cameron, never read "Anna Karenina" and has no idea why he should -- any more than American generals or civilian makers of war policy have any idea why they might have saved a few trillion dollars had they read "War and Peace" and learned about wily Kutuzov's refusal, after Borodino, to confront Napoleon and the Grande Armée, and possibly even begun to think of the relevance of Kutuzovshchina in Iraq, in Afghanistan.
Cameron's a boy-child of his times alright, un enfant du siècle, the siècle in question being this very one, that is the 2lst unappetizing and dangerous century, in his thinking that what Great Britain needs and wants in a Prime Minister is a salesman, to be rewarded, that is supported, only if he makes his sales, because, you see, he works on commission.
History, and the history of Great Britain, which is even older and certainly far more impressive than the history of Islam, is not his strong suit.
I suspect that Cameron's knowledge of English history may consist of only a handful of vague memories.
He might remember two dates -- 1215 and January 30, 1649 --but I'm not even sure about the second, or if he could put that event into context.
And he probably knows a handful of remarks, the kind of thing that appear misapplied or misremembered in "1066 And All That."
One remark he surely must know is that with which Napoleon, Great Britain's great antagonist, described England as "a nation of shopkeepers." ("L'Angleterre est une nation de boutiquiers." ). He was echoing, by the way, Adam Smith, whose own view of the mad pursuit of economic self-interest has to be read in the light of his "Theory of Moral Sentiments."
When Napoleon used the phrase, it was meant to be dismissive.
Apparently, David Cameron misunderstood.