Metal Storm: Imagining U.S.-Turkey War
For one year from 2007-2008, Amar traveled around the world reporting on how people from all walks of life view the United States through text and video. The following is one of a number of posts from Turkey. For more, click here.
ISTANBUL - Ankara is on fire. U.S. warplanes zoom overhead, blackening the skies. America has just launched "Operation Metal Storm."
So starts one of the most popular books in recent Turkish history, dubbed Metal Storm(or Metal Furtina). This fictional tale of a massive U.S.-Turkey war has sold 600,000 copies across the country since its release in 2004.
Metal Storm starts off, eerily enough, in northern Iraq in 2007. America draws Turkish forces into battle as a pretext to invade the country. The rich uranium, thorium, and borax reserves lure a greedy "evangelical American president" and his cronies, unsparingly named "Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice." It's all part of America's plan for world dominion, the book says.
After reducing Turkey to rubble and capturing its capitol, Ankara, the U.S. threatens to divide the remains among its Armenian and Greek neighbors -- the ultimate insult. But a powerful diplomatic alliance between Russia and the European Union comes to the rescue, stalling the U.S. Meanwhile, a Turkish agent smuggles a suitcase nuke through Mexico's border and detonates it in Washington, D.C.
America falls to its knees. Turkey, the good, prevails. America, the evil, loses.
I met one of the two authors of the book, Burak Turna, in a café off Taksim Square. The thirty-year-old, goateed author-musician spends his days here jotting notes for his next book, and says he owes his rise to fame to his ability to "predict future scenarios" and tap into "the subconscious of Turkey."
Burak has long been a dreamer. He recalls his childhood days reading American cartoon books like Mandrake the Magician and Tom Mix, and watching Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and Wild Wild West movies over and over again. "I was always a loner," he says.
As years progressed, he turned to video games like Call of Duty and Rise of the Legions, and to philosophers like Hegel, Kant, and Plato, "all of whom I think I have moved beyond now."
Burak started pondering his own theory of the world after finishing Turkish military service in 2001. Just out of the military, in the year 2002, Burak was twenty-seven years-old, living at home, and jobless. For one year "I walked around Istiklal doing nothing" but pondering recent world events -- September 11, the build up to the Iraq War, America's interventions in the Middle East.
That was when a problem struck him: "There is so much information -- books and internet and TV -- but so many things are not told to you. Why didn't the first George Bush get rid of Saddam?" Burak asks rhetorically, before revealing his answer: "They were waiting, preparing for their bigger moves."
But what were they? In 2002, he blended philosophy and current events to imagine America and Turkey's future. He decided a fundamental "will to power" drives most American policy choices, and at moments throughout history, this lust for total control brings humanity to the brink of disaster. Burak says now is one of those moments.
Burak presents Metal Storm as a work of fiction, political science, and philosophy rolled into one -- think "The Matrix," he says. To write his thrillers, Burak imagines himself the manic ruler of the United States, bent on world dominion. Then he imagines future scenarios. So far, he claims, his imagination has been oddly prescient.
He predicted a butting of interests in northern Iraq between the U.S. and Turkey way back before 2003, and the title of his latest book, "Third World War" is now "being used by President Bush" who "is taking my discourse."
So, I ask, does all of this end badly for America in the real world? Are we in for global confrontations and dirty bombs?
"No," he says. "This book predicts the context -- what you see now in Iraq and with the PKK -- but politicians have the choice on whether to act rationally. In the heat of the moment, things can spin out of control, but if you've seen it before [by reading the book] people can act better to control it."
"I see myself as a doctor," he says, "inoculating a patient against catastrophe."