THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has said that the finest view of Istanbul is not from the shores of Europe, or from the shores of Asia, but from a bridge that unites them, and lets you see both. His work has been a bridge between cultures, and so is the Republic of Turkey. The people of this land understand, as Pamuk has observed, that "What is important is not [a] clash of parties, civilizations, cultures, East and West." What is important, he says, is to realize "that other peoples in other continents and civilizations" are "exactly like you."
Ladies and gentlemen, in their need for hope, in their desire for peace, in their right to freedom, the peoples of the Middle East are exactly like you and me. Their birthright of freedom has been denied for too long. And we will do all in our power to help them find the blessings of liberty.
--George W. Bush, remarks in Istanbul, July 29, 2004
STAR: When George Bush was in Istanbul recently for the NATO summit, he referred to you as a "great writer" who has helped bridge the divide between East and West. Citing your own statements about how people around the world are very much alike, he defended American efforts to help people in the Middle East enjoy their "birthright of freedom." Did you think he understood what you meant?
PAMUK: I think George Bush put a lot of distance between East and West with this war. He made the whole Islamic community unnecessarily angry with the United States, and in fact with the West. This will pave the way to lots of horrors and inflict cruel and unnecessary pain to lots of people. It will raise the tension between East and West. These are things I never hoped would happen. In my books I always looked for a sort of harmony between the so-called East and West. In short, what I wrote in my books for years was misquoted, and used as a sort of apology for what had been done. And what had been done was a cruel thing.
--interview of Orhan Pamuk by Alexander Star, New York Times Book Review, August 15, 2004