Dr. Phil Williams 'Talks Turkey' at E-SU Meeting
By Lois Holt
Special to The Pilot
Dr. Henry P. (Phil) Williams' extensive international experience will be evident when he appears on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the English-Speaking Union's first program for 2013.
Williams has worked professionally in France, Greece, Italy and Turkey and is proficient in their languages. Having lived in Turkey for six years, he is considered a scholar on its history and its critical importance to American policy today.
The expression "to talk turkey" was first recorded in 1824. Meaning to skip the pleasantries and get to the point, or to speak plainly, the familiar expression will apply to a highly insightful presentation regarding Turkey's growing world stature.
Because of the corruption, inefficiency and intrigue that characterized Turkish administration and politics in the late 1800s, Turkey was described as "the sick man of Europe" as it neared the end of the existence of the Ottoman Empire and subsequent loss of wars and territory.
But in the 21st century, it is far from "sick." Just as America, NATO, the European Union and the Middle East have changed dramatically since the Cold War, so is Turkey redefining itself to respond to domestic and regional changes.
Kemal Ataturk, the country's president in the 1920s, is remembered as the man who brought about the country's secularization and modernization during that period. However, his famous phrase, "Peace at Home. Peace Abroad." has a different flavor today.
The violent Arab Spring demonstrations, the civil war in Syria and the flare-up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict all increase Turkey's presence in the region. Moreover, new complications such as the role of social media, the influence of non-state actors and the relatively inexpensive cost of lethal technologies, both military and cyber, make governance all the more challenging by creating a sense of insecurity and anxiety throughout the entire Middle East.
Williams has earned degrees from Culver Military Academy, the University of Virginia, the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the University of Florence, Italy, including a doctorate from The Fletcher School (a joint Tufts and Harvard program) in international law and diplomacy.
After several years on Wall Street, Bankers Trust sent him to Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, where he launched Turkey's first investment bank in 1988.
He is a national board member of the English-Speaking Union and past president of the Charlottesville branch. He currently serves as state president of the Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution and is also a longtime board member of the American Friends of Turkey.
Williams presently operates a consulting business and lectures on subjects ranging from the Middle East and American history to port wine.
For information regarding membership in the E-SU Sandhills Branch and the January program, contact Hope Price at (910) 692-7727 or Hopewp@AOL.com.
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