Turkey's Modern, Muslim Face

Recently, Turkey assumed from Britain command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Typically, hardly anyone noticed. Turkey's troubles -- be they financial crises or the current illness of Primer Minister Bulent Ecevit -- grab headlines. Its successes and contributions get buried in the back pages of the world's newspapers, when they are reported on at all.

But in the world forged by the terrorist attacks on America last September, the identity, and the choices and alliances that Turkey made in its historical quest to become modern, have acquired greater significance than ever before. Turkey's leadership of the peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, something hugely popular among Turks, highlights once more the fact that Turkey is the only Muslim nation that is a member of NATO.

Turkey's straddling of Islam and the West makes the country's domestic and international politics intriguing. Indeed, many Turks view their country's development as a compelling rejoinder to any idea of an inevitable "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West.

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