Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 26, 2009

Three Thanksgiving Stories From Turkey

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on November 26, 2009

Obama’s election helped improve the global image of the U.S. But, according to a PEW global attitudes survey a few months ago,

… opinions of the U.S. among Muslims in the Middle East remain largely unfavorable, despite some positive movement in the numbers in Jordan and Egypt. Animosity toward the U.S., however, continues to run deep and unabated in Turkey, the Palestinian territories and Pakistan.

I was interested in learning if the people attending the Defense Against Terrorism conference in Ankara last week shared that animosity.

I spoke with 30 people at the 60 person gathering of academics and military officers from old Europe, new Europe and the Middle East. I heard two negative things about the United States.  One came from a British army officer who had served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We were extremely disappointed!” he said, pounding the table at dinner. “Why didn’t the American people stop your government from invading Iraq? What a waste! What a complete and utter waste!”

He got quiet, waiting for me to explain why we allowed the invasion.  I did not try to answer his question.  It’s almost 2010.  Explanation seems sort of irrelevant.

“I love America,” he said sadly. “You know I really love America.”

The other negative view was from a Pakistani officer who wanted to know why the United States had not captured or killed bin Laden and Zawahiri.

“I see the technology your military has on the battlefield,” he said. “I refuse to believe you cannot find these killers if you really wanted to. Why do you allow them to remain free?”

No answer for that one either.

The image I got from the people I spoke with at the conference — none of whom seemed reluctant to express negative opinions when they felt like it — was the United States is still that “shining city upon a hill.”

Clearly we are nation with deep flaws and much left to accomplish on our continuing quest for a more perfect union.  But I was overwhelmed at times listening to the high regard these young military officers, many from the former Soviet Union nations, held for the United States.

What incredible expectations they have about our capabilities, our way of life, and our people.

One officer from Moldova put it this way, “I have three wishes in my life. The first one is to see the USA.”

Happy Thanksgiving

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5 Comments »

Comment by Clinton J. Andersen

November 26, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

Happy Thanksgiving.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 30, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

What many see in the American story is the potential for freedom to allow achievement. The reality often far different. Question is why that equation is so out of balance now and perhaps forever?

Comment by Sandra Hempen

February 28, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

I found this story at http://www.thanksgiving-food-gifts.com/ It is really a wonderfully American story.
A surprise Thanksgiving feast in the French countryside. “Just out of college and eager to travel the world, my friend Malcolm and I decided to move to France In the fall of 1976 and immerse ourselves in the French culture. The two of us took French language courses in a school in Tours, France – a language institute that catered mostly to young adults from countries throughout the world. Like us, most of the other students rented rooms in the homes of local host families who spoke little or no English. It was an unforgettable experience staying with these families. We got to know some of them very well. We learned about their traditions and they learned about ours. In late November, however, we couldn’t help but be reminded of home as we walked the streets and markets of France and saw no pumpkins, no harvest decor, no turkeys. One evening, we were invited over for dinner by one of the host families. When we arrived and they opened the door to their home, we were taken completely by surprise to see a full Thanksgiving celebration feast awaiting us. The parents and children were dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians. They served us roasted turkey, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. It was a slice of home away from home, and one of the most unique and memorable Thanksgivings I’ve ever had.”
— Bob Cole
Camarillo, California

Comment by Camarillo Dentist

July 23, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

A very poignant story. Thank you for sharing it. I liked it so much that I forwarded it to friends and family.
Nettie B.
Camarillo, CA

Comment by Meyer Lemons

July 23, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

A toast to you Christopher for sharing this story and making us realize that we have to work harder to keep America on course and on target as that “Shining City on the Hill.”
Douglas Ridgeway Meyer,
Pt. Mugu, California

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