But nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire is still, for the most part, limited to right-wing Turkish nationalists and to "Neo-Ottomanist" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
At least until now.
Robert D. Kaplan's piece at Foreign Policy, "It's Time to Bring Imperialism Back to the Middle East," actually goes there. Kaplan has written a number of popular works. I never read his Balkan Ghosts so i won't comment on it here. I must confess that his Arabists: the Romance of an American Elite annoyed me, though giving the pleasure one gets from yelling at a book as one reads it, Since it dealt with many friends, teachers, mentors, colleagues, and former bosses (some of whom weren't even technically Arabists as they didn't know the language), I read it a least twice.. (The cover shows the late Talcott Seelye, Ambassador to Syria and Tunisia, whom I was lucky enough to know well and whose daughter Kate is now my colleague as Senior Vice President of MEI.)
So I admit to some bias in judging Kaplan's arguments because, to use the academic terms, I consider them dangerous imperialist bullshit. Read it for yourself. His conclusion:
Thus, the near-term and perhaps middle-term future of the Middle East will likely be grim. The Sunni Islamic State will now fight Iran’s Shiite militias, just as Saddam’s Sunni Iraq fought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Shiite Iran in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War. That war, going on as long as it did, represented in part the deliberate decision of the Reagan administration not to intervene — another example of weak imperial authority, though a successful one, since it allowed Reagan to concentrate on Europe and help end the Cold War.
Ah, yes, Ordnung supersedes democracy, human rights, and other frills. Notice how it's more sinister if I use the German word? I wonder why that is?Back then it was states at war; now it is sub-states. Imperialism bestowed order, however retrograde it may have been. The challenge now is less to establish democracy than to reestablish order. For without order, there is no freedom for anyone.
While Kaplan doesn't urge a reestablishment of the Ottoman Empire in its original form, I rather expect he's going to have some 'splainin' to do with his Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian friends, if he has some.
In another area, the current anti-Iran hysteria in the US, Israel, and the Gulf Arab states has led to much talk about Iran pursuing a "new Persian Empire," Professor Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University takes this apart very nicely at Al Jazeera in "Persian Empire, Anyone?"
I truly believe the age of empires is gone. We may have a (I believe false) nostalgia, for a (falsely?) remembered stability, and no one prefers the barbarity of ISIS, but Kaplan's solution is to treasure an anachronism.