There is a famous French nursery rhyme that says “My heart cannot choose between the Christine and Brigitte.”
What transpired today, between endless chatter about the oil spill, and brief allusions to Israel’s attack on unarmed civilians in the high seas, is that the United States is going to have to choose between two long-time allies: Israel and Turkey.
To be sure, the nature of our relations with these two countries is not the same: Israel is a sixty-year old love story that grew out of the Second World War. Turkey was “the southern bulwark against the Soviet Union“ during the Cold War, and more recently, has been indispensable to our pursuit of military operations in Iraq. And now, at a time when, according to CNN, the U.S. needs Turkey’s support to pass a sanctions resolution against Iran, Turkey today declared that Israel had forfeited its right to be considered a respected member of the international community.
By late afternoon, it transpired that Turkey had gone further: it demanded that the United States join the Security Council’s condemnation of Israel. Imagine! A not-so-long-ago third world country demanding a certain behavior of the world superpower!
The full impact of this development has probably not dawned in Washington yet. Or if it, has, Washington will pretend nothing is amiss. But this is as significant a development as the Gulf oil spill: from now on, we can start keeping a record of the ways in which the world spells out for the United States the fact that it no longer calls the shots.