The Coup in Turkey

Wow, on the heels of another terror attack in France, a coup starts in Turkey.  By the way, there is no negotiating with the likes of ISIS.  The only way to win is kill them all.  Distasteful for a civilization that values human life, but a bitter pill we have to swallow.

I was in Turkey back in December of 2014.  My whole limited time there I felt entirely safe.  Our guide, Rashid, took us through the entire city of Istanbul over a few days.  If you go, I highly recommend him.  He understands the political and religious history of Turkey.  He is also trained in the classics, so I find walking the streets of Istanbul with him highly educational.

No doubt, when we were there you noticed instability bubbling underneath the surface.  Mosques that were radical sects were being tolerated where they were never tolerated before.  Syrian refugees and Egyptian refugees were coming to Turkey.  500,000 Syrians entered Istanbul last year alone.  That massive amount of immigration will bring unintended stresses.

The West cannot afford to lose or ignore Turkey.  Strategically it is militarily important.  Culturally, it is probably more important.

One thing we know for sure, when America pulls back a vacuum is created.  Someone will fill the vacuum.  For the last 8 years, America’s foreign policy has been to pull back.  It was the exact wrong move at the exact wrong time.  Starting a war in 2002 wasn’t a bright idea either, but putting gasoline on the fire wasn’t brilliant.

It turns out, my very good friend happened to be in town so we had dinner last night.  He lives in Istanbul.  He has done a lot of research and work with think tanks and western governments.  He has an MBA from Chicago Booth.  His specialty is terrorism. He works to change the conversation inside groups and countries.  Ironically, often times he uses ideas and concepts that come out of Western Civilization.  It turns out that the ideas of Thomas Payne, Ben Franklin, Adam Smith and John Adams are incredibly powerful.  They transcend civilizations because they are core to human existence.

There are no black and white answers surrounding Turkey.  Yes, the President is a strongman.  There will be a lot more bloodshed in Turkey.  Erdogan isn’t a prime example of a tolerant leader.  But, last night on Twitter even the Kurds who he is bitter enemies with were speaking up for democracy.  The Kurds didn’t support the coup.  Erdogan’s political opponents didn’t support the coup.  That tells you something I think.  The Turks do value democracy.  Democracy is messy sometimes.

Another very interesting thing that happened last night.  The military took over broadcasters.  Erdogan, who has tried to severely restrict Twitter and Facebook, took to Facebook Live to communicate to his supporters.

Again, it just makes me think the best way to fight and win against radical terrorists is through a powerful network, not hierarchy.  The way we are fighting today via vertical silos that have trouble communicating is not a way to win.  The next 15-20 years are going to be tumultuous in the Middle East.



22 thoughts on “The Coup in Turkey

  1. Morning

    I hear this refrain often from a few friends–you are one:

    “The only way to win is kill them all. Distasteful for a civilization that values human life, but a bitter pill we have to swallow.”

    I don’t think anyone has a problem with killing mad men.

    The issue which my same group of friends has is that this is somehow something that we have the information to do but are not pulling the trigger.

    Seems wishful and an easy explanation for a complex world.

    It we know were all the mad people were, this would be simple.

    We don’t. That’s the issue.

    What do you know that I don’t?

    1. I can’t answer for the author, but my take on, “Kill them all” is that, as you stated, we can’t possibly know who the madmen are so we kill everyone who may or may not be, but might be.
      I.e. Total war

    2. There are certain people you can enlighten. You cannot enlighten a fanatic. With hard core Nazis or the Japanese in WW2, the only answer was killing them. It is a sad state of affairs. But, there is no other answer since you cannot compromise with a fanatical group bent on killing you.

  2. The problem is that you are using the term “democracy” improperly. Democracy is not just legal form. Nor is it an election. The Muslim world in particular is replete with one man, one vote, one time sham elections. What we are seeing are authoritarian states like Russia and Turkey that superficially adhere to the legal form of democracy but which are not. The Egyptian military takeover was much more “democratic” within the proper meaning of that term than the perpetuation of the Muslim Brotherhood turning Egypt into a theocracy. The same goes for what happened in Algeria. Erdogon is dictator who has successfully subverted a democratic state by using the democratic process to establish his authority. The coup may not have been democratic, but Erdogan certainly is not either. We are watching what was supposed to be a secularist, modernist success story in the Muslim world slowly die. That is the death of democracy, coup or not.

    1. I don’t disagree that Erdogan dispatched opponents, jailed members of the press and took actions that were anti-democratic. However, the bulk of Turkey sees itself as a Democracy, and would rather get rid of him on the ballot than with a military coup.

      1. Given the recent vote until they get it right fiasco, I wish them luck. Although implosions are always fun from far away.

  3. Yeah, how dare we remove a dictatorial regime and give people a chance at self-determination. And this guy is talking about “Democracy”. People are truly brain washed in this country.

  4. The Turks may value democracy. The Kurds may value democracy. Erdogan, on the other hand, looks at it as a bus, once you get to your destination you get off.
    Whoever was behind this coup, whether it was Gulenists in the military, or Kemalists, or catspaws and scapegoats, this turned out perfect for Erdogan. He’s got what he wants., emergency powers and the chance to change the constitution again. Today is going to be a rough day for secularists and Gulenists. If the coup had been successful there’d be a military regime that would have transitioned to civilian rule, as it is there is dictatorship and maybe the end of Turkish democracy for the foreseeable future.

  5. Why does the US support a fake democracy leader who is gradually pushing Turkey into more and more Islamism and has indirect ties of sympathies with the ISIS?

    Maybe the people will topple him whereas the military failed.

    1. I don’t think the US supports him, but I don’t think they are working against him. If anything, Obama’s policy in the Middle East has made things even worse than Bush did. Clinton and Kerry were useless, and feckless.

  6. And, as usual, everyone uses ‘democracy’ as if it were a good thing. Democracy is mob rule. The majority gets to take anything it wants from the minority. We are approaching that, of course. What the US is supposed to have is rule of law, a republic. All citizens, including the minority, are known to have certain rights that are protected by law. The Founders knew democracy to be a disaster.

  7. It was a fake coup. Sure, many of the people involved were genuine antis, but they were egged on by plants who will either be eased out of the “justice” system, or sacrificed. Marcos did the same thing.

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