The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

What Happens Now that the Turkish Coup Has Failed

3414031599_2dbf0262e3_oI spent a handful of years living in Turkey, and I’d like to take a little of your time discussing how Turkey went from a typical Eastern European country to the emergent Islamist state it is today.

(This piece is by Sean-Paul Kelley – Ian)

The last time I was in Turkey, in Fall 2015, the tension in the city was palpable. More Turks than ever before expressed, outright, their distaste and even hatred of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern republic. Vastly different than my first visit in 2001, now it was all tension bordering on rude to inhospitable in late 2015. If you know anything about the Turks you’d have been shocked at the lack of hospitality.

But it was the anger directed towards Ataturk in several conversations that had me so confused. As Walter Russell Mead notes, Atatürk’s accomplishments were great: “Kemal Atatürk rallied the remnants of the nation, defeated a Greek invasion, forced the Allies out of Constantinople and made Turkey a secular republic and an ethnic nation state on the European plan.” He also instituted deep and widespread internal reforms: Women’s rights, education, and the legal system were given rights and responsibilities were overhauled, and he built a new capital in Angora—Ankara—site of the Ottoman’s worst defeat until the 19th century. This defeat by Tamerlane in 1402 set the Ottoman project back by 50 years, and let Constantinople stagger on another 50 wasted years. 2786

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk would let nothing hold him back. He first major achievement came during the defense of Gallipoli. Stopping near the highest point in the area where the Allies advanced he noted their failure to capture the heights. amateurish moves on the part of the British generals, which would cost the souls of hundreds of thousands of men. But Kemal, ever moving forward, ordered his soldiers haul artillery to the top. There they were to pour a merciless, relentless stream of enfilading fire into the Allies lines, halting them permanently.

After WWI, Turkey faced the consequences of the Sykes-Picot Treaty, that dubious deposition of schoolboy skullduggery launched inside the bowels of an English gentleman’s club. Atatürk felt no obligation to adhere to the contemptible treaty and steeled himself for a fight against each of the Allies or, hopefully not, all at once. There would be no rump Turkey. Atatürk was a fighting general and he met the Franco-Armenian army first. They invaded form the East but, possessed by a Seljuk warrior, Atatürk sacrificed land for time until he met and defeated the Franco-Armenian invasion force at Marash in 1920. Rallying his soldiers for more hardship, for the Turks had their backs up against the wall between 1920-22. A year and a half after his defeat of the Franco-Armenian force, he met the Greeks at Sakarya, where he thrashed them so badly that even poor, old Gen. Venizelos, consumed of the great idea, Megali, Greater Greece, at long last conceded it was dead.

The end of the wars brought no respite for Atatürk, by now he had the reigns of the entire nation firmly in his grip. Working harder than ever, there he was, day after day, remaking Turkey along new lines: the nation-state. Here, he changed the alphabet, sent little girls to school, opened the faculty of Turkey’s greatest universities to foreigners, aiming for foreign knowledge and science and suspended Shari’a law in April, 1924. Turkish women gained the right to vote in local elections in 1930. Four years later, universal suffrage came to Turkey, sooner than many of its more “enlightened and advanced” Western neighbors. One of his greatest achievements, although this is beyond the scope of this essay, deserves mention: Ataturk abolished marriage for the misogynist, or what we call polygamy, in 1926. Had Muslim jurists been traveling along with Ataturk whispering in his ears that this is haram (forbidden), that is haram, all is haram, none of his achievements would have lasted a decade. Modern Turkey is impossible without Ataturk’s drive to secularize.

Atäturk, however, failed at two crucial problems, which when left to fester, as they would, troubled the young republic for the remainder of the century and beyond.

First, Atäturk and his brain trust never addressed the bigotry and discrimination shown towards the Alevi (Alawites if you are Suriani or live in Syria), which frequently led to what we would call pogroms. Second, the Kurds. I’m convinced Ataturk ignored the Kurds with a deep and abiding silence as a matter of policy. If he even whispered to someone that they existed then the logical conclusion demanded a state of their own, as Turkey had demanded based on Wilsonian principles of self-determination. Nationalism, that evil virus from Europe was spreading and all it has left the Kurds is death, destruction, blood and tears.

Even now the Kurds are a paradox, to others and to themselves. Turkey’s economic miracle was fueled by Kurdish immigrants willing to leave their dusty Anatolian farms for the balmy Aegean and Black Sea cities like Izmir, Bursa, Sinop and Trabzon have all benefited from the Erdoğonomics. So have the western Anatolian cities like Eskişehir, Afyon, Kayseri, Sivas and Konya. But the immigrants from the far eastern provinces bring their problems with them, especially those from the deep countryside. They are exceptionally conservative, the veil is never even spoken of. Daughter’s are chaperoned, a mother or aunt is fine, “after all,” a young woman friend of mine from Afyon once said, “we aren’t so backwards as the Saudis, although a little of their money would be nice.” This is paradox number one: they have gained tremendously from ‘Erdoğonomics’ even as the AKP and government as a whole treats them like shit. However, go out to Diyarbakir, Van or Urfa and it’s a different story. The Kurds proclaim their undying brotherhood with the Turks, they just “want to speak their own language and maybe watch TV in it. Is this not asking too much,” one young Kurd asked me back in 2009 during a multi-year lull in the violence. The answer: obviously no.

IMG_2855My neighborhood, Tophane, has changed enormously over the last few years. Once a party area for European backpackers, it’s now mostly Kurds, Zazaki speakers, not Kurmanj, and enough Syrian refugees to notice. Both groups wrapped up tight in the comforts of hejab, modest clothing for both men and women. One day even I was chided wearing shorts to the bodega to get a pack of gum. Mead notes that my nieghborhood was like many others across the peninsula. “In Ankara and Istanbul the generals, the statesmen and the businessmen live international and largely secular lives,” he writes, “Women went bareheaded, and, for the daughters of the upper middle class, the freedom of western secular life beckoned.” However, ominous clouds float above the economic success of Erdoğan, “in the cities and villages far from the metropolitan centers, in places like Konya and Gaziantep, something else was happening.” That something else was Anatolian peasants migrating en masse to plentiful jobs in the cities, but these migrants brought their piety with them and demanded everyone else live as they do.

moderate islam notHejab was mandatory in my mahalle, which makes me biased. That said, a novelist friend who lives in the Asian-side, uber-posh mahalle Moda, said even there the intolerance grew. Often it manifested itself as conservative men and women walked through the mahalle shouting at walkers, shaming them. Fatih—where the sumptuous Sulimaniye Mosque is—is terribly conservative. And even benighted Şişhane has been cleaned up a little, brothels moved to Zeytinburnu. In the suburbs it’s now a rough, blue-collar heroin infested mahalle of young unemployed male mayhem.

I loved the old, secular, Turkey.

All this as preamble to the coup, and what it will mean for the future.

The moment I heard about the coup attempt in Turkey yesterday I posted my thoughts without pause or editing. My gut said “I seriously doubt the coup will take hold. Erdoğan cut far into the military muscle with Ergenekon.” The dying optimist in me, however, thought that “maybe it’ll last—and I hope it does—because Erdoğan is a vile, hateful little man.” My loathing for Erdoğan is spectacular, I hope his end resembles Ceaușescu’s, limbs torn from his body into shreds by an angry street mob, and not that of Islam Karimov, the leader who boiled his opponents alive yet will more than likely die peacefully in his large palace on a hill outside Tashkent overlooking the rolling Hungry Steppe.

Turkey’s military deserves an altogether different fate as units were trying to fulfill a constitutional purpose expected of them in the 20th century and/or two, they were lied into believing their movements into the streets of Istanbul were just an exercise. Whether they were lied to or not their highest constitutional duty has been the preservation of the secularism Kemal Atäturk imposed on the young nation he cobbled together in the late 20s and early 30s. Their duty is not the preservation of democracy, but of secularism.

American Liberals, Progressives and a handful of Conservatives usually incorrectly believe the Turkish army’s main goal is to promote and protect democracy. Democracy is not the only good, secularism is a good in an of itself.

But the army was never likely to succeed.

Why not? What was different this time? Why, in the past had the army been successful and Friday it was not?

In a word: Ergenekon.

In the old Turkish myths Ergenekon is a mythical “Land of Darkness,” a homeland cut clean and deep from the Archean rocks of the Tien Shan, a time when Titans and man roamed the Earth and man, terrified of the giants, sought shelter in the deep valleys the Tien Shan are famous for in search of their very own Shangri-la.

wolf sheep clothingErdoğan’s Ergenekon was the persecution of allegedly ultra-secular and nationalist (read: Kemalist) high ranking officers in Turkey’s armed forces, up to and including the general staff. Erdoğan conducted his military purge at great risk to himself, but with very good reasons based his own persecutions and jail-time at the hands of what we now Turkey’s deep state. Erdoğan’s left jail in 2003 and immediately became prime ministership—he feared a large group of officers would coalesced in opposition to the AKP-Gulenist alliance he led in parliament. (Allied at the time, Gulenists and Gulen himself apparently witnessed a bit too much immorality and tattled. This led to an irrevocable break between Erdoğan and Gulen.) There were fears in 2003 that AKP represented a brand of crypto pan-Islamism. Most analysts disputed this, using an analogy Americans would understand. Imagine if Pat Robertson’s hand-picked candidate won the presidency? It would not be a theocracy in America, would it? It sounds great, except that they were wrong.

Protecting Turkey from this kind of pan-Islamism was part of the military’s job description. Under any other prime minister the military would have kicked him or her out office, brought order to the country and help elections as soon as possible thus preserving secularism in Turkey.

Ataturk and his immediate successors had good reason to believe that if a Muslim nation was to be modern it must embrace secularism. He looked at the chaos in Saudi Arabia, the emerging Hashemite Kingdoms and Egypt and their chronic inability to manufacture their own needs and support themselves. He believed in secularism first, then there could be democracy.

A portion of Turkey’s armed forces will soon be tried as traitors for their embrace of the Kemalist constitution. That’s just as Erdoğan would have it, too.

turkey-military-akp-nationalturk-34567A disclaimer is needed here. No one likes generals sticking their noses into politics. Too often they end up like the Sphinx in Egypt: noseless, after the target practice of bored troops. Nor do I like it when generals engage in retail politics. President Clinton should have fired Colin Powell for insubordination when he wrote an op-ed opposing Clinton’s proposed gays in the military policy early in his first term. President Obama did fire one general who had the poor taste of telling the truth and getting caught. But there is a more recent case, this one quite scary, too. General Breedlove, former SACEUR, actively plotted against Obama’s Ukrainian-Russia policy. Breedlove contrary to President Obama’s express orders pushed for war. Once Obama learned of this he should have busted the general down to private and forced him to resign, on a private’s pension. Sadly, this is another example of old, clear lines of separation fraying in many of America’s most hallowed institutions. But I digress.

In America there is a clear separation (still) between civilian leaders and military brass; but, as mentioned above, modern Turkish precedent gives the military a special role, wide latitude to defend Kemal’s most important and lasting achievement: the secularization of Turkey. Secularism is the sine qua non of the Turkish Republic’s existence. Without it, Ataturk knew Turkey would flounder toward modernity, flailing and failing, until turning inward against the enemy within: the Alevi or the the Kurds. The Armenians had left, forcibly, and what few Greeks remaining either assimilated into Turkish culture as to be invisible, or were so old they were left alone and forgotten. Ataturk’s prescience was scarily precise, once the independence of the army was curbed, secularism would die. Turkish secularism perished before our eyes on June 15, 2016, after lasting almost a century.

A little clarity is necessary to avoid confusion: Erdoğan is not the prime minister, who is technically the most powerful individual in Turkey. Erdoğan is president now, one who is fighting to create a new constitutional order in Turkey where the president, a once ceremonial job only becomes the alpha of all alphas.

Is Tayyip America’s stooge? He most certainly is not. He is an Islamist, an elected one. On multiple occasions. But because he also implemented the right conditions for the economy to soar for almost ten years—when he was elected it cost 10,000,000 lira to buy a glass of tea. At one point the Lira to dollar exchange rate was 1.6 Lira to the dollar. He tamed inflation and then European light manufacturing investment money poured in to the country. It was an economic miracle.

This gave him an enormous amount of political capital that he’s been living off of ever since. He also had a skilled foreign minister, Davotoglu, who brought a real peace between the Kurds and Turkey. I was in Diyarbakir in 2008 and it was lovely. Meanwhile, many Kurds began migrating from the countryside to the cities along the Aegean and Black Sea where jobs were to be found.

They also blew Istanbul up like a balloon. In 2003 the population was 7 million. Today it is roughly 14 million. Most of the Kurdish migrants are very conservative religiously and with the peace seeming lasting, combined with the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan’s death sentence being commuted by Prime Minister Ecevit in 2002, Turkey’s future seemed positive. Add to that a last IMF/World Bank bailout to solidify Turkey’s perennially troublesome, embezzled banks. The growth was impressive. But as Walter Russell Mead writes the wheel turns and those once ignored will soon rule, “Atatürk’s Turkey marginalized the pious Anatolian peasants; now their grandchildren and great grandchildren are building a new Turkey. They see themselves storming the citadels of cosmopolitan, urban privilege in much the same way that Sultan Mehmet Fatih, the Conqueror, took Constantinople from the last Byzantine emperor. They have come to the cities like Mehmet and his warriors, and they are remaking them in their image.” This they did.

After almost a decade a speed bump crept up on Turkey’s leaders. The Arab Spring arrived and to everyone’s surprise the wheels came of economic and foreign policy. The foreign policy he and Davutoğlu implemented, “Zero Problems with Neighbors” fell apart. Had one observed closely signs pointed to the unraveling of the Turco-Israeli Entente. First, Turkey and Israel verbally sparred over who would sit where during negotiations for their next summit meeting. Traditionally the host nation had the high seat but Netanyahu and Lieberman had a new government, necessitating they prove themselves to constituents back home and hatched a plot to humiliate Erdoğan. Erdoğan being a man who never forgets a slight soon saw an opportunity for a propaganda victory against Israel: the Gaza Blockade.

Then Turkey sent the Mavi Mara and it was a PR disaster for Israel. Erdogan learned an important lesson: if there is an enemy abroad he can maintain and increase his power. Why? During this time his party the AKP won an outright majority in a parliament historically fragmented and factious. He has been doing this ever since. I

Turkey has a long history of expecting and appreciating the military stepping in as guarantor of secularism in the country. The military is not and never has been the guarantor of democracy. This is a fundamental support beam in Turkey.

But not on Friday.

turkish-air-forcePepe Escobar autopsies the scene, cutting straight through to the viscera: “in the end they did not have the numbers – and the necessary preparation. All key ministries seemed to be communicating among themselves as the plot developed, as well as the intel services. And as far as Turkish police as a whole is concerned, they are now a sort of AKP pretorian guard.”

Escobar then unloads an idea that floated around NatSec circles on Twitter and Facebook in the hours after the coup seemed doomed: somehow Erdoğan had foreknowledge of the plot, knew it to be weak and let it proceed secure and possibly giddy over the giant power-grab he’d soon achieve.

Escobar explains, “Erdoğan’s intel services knew a coup was brewing; and the wily Sultan let it happen knowing it would fail as the plotters had very limited support. He also arguably knew – in advance— even the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), whose members Erdoğan is trying to expel from parliament, would support the government in the name of democracy.”

Unlike all the windbags and chatterboxes on TV or the earnest but easily mislead Knights of Keyboard Manor thwacking bits and bytes across the ‘net, using words like Reichstag and False Flag without a shred of evidence to support their suppositions other than a gut feeling, Escobar does something radical: he offers some very plausible evidence for his theory. Like a modern day I.F. Stone, cutting through an overload of giga-this and peta-that, Seńor Escobar informs his readers how “[e]arlier last week Erdoğan signed a bill giving soldiers immunity from prosecution while taking part in domestic security ops – as in anti-PKK (but hypothetically this law could be used to excuse soldiers who were unknowingly misled into participating ed. note ~spk); that spells out improved relations between the AKP government and the army. And then Turkey’s top judicial body HSYK laid off no less than 2,745 judges after an extraordinary meeting post-coup. This can only mean the list was more than ready in advance.” (Emphasis mine.) This same thought was expressed by a friend and I’m with her and Escobar: it’s more than plausible, it’s probable.

Turkey-The-captured-soldiers-in-a-courthouse-IstanbulThose who thought Erdoğan had been wounded badly over the confrontation with Russia—even the United States began evacuating non-essential military and diplomatic personnel after the fallout with Russia and a spate of terrorist bombings—are now watching the biggest power grab in Turkey since 1908 when 200 “Young Turks” demanded the reinstatement of the Constitution of 1876. Sultan Abdul Hamid II refused on principle, only to watch revolt spread like wildfire on the steppe across his ever shrinking patrimony, until he capitulated. The Turks may call Erdoğan “the Little Sultan” as an insult on the sly, but he’s got some big ole’ britches now, britches that will only get bigger.

What kind of actions can be expected from Erdoğan once the coup dust settles, a friend asked the evening of the coup? “The immediate consequence,” explains Pablo Escobar, “is that Erdoğan now seems to have miraculously reconquered his ‘strategic depth’” both internally and externally. In laymen’s terms: he’s more powerful now domestically—look for purges—even after the fiasco that was Syria and with Russia’s shot down jet, and more. Plus the unholy Kurdish mess, including its lack of real policy doesn’t much matter. Erdoğan’s much like Bismarck in 1866 after defeating the Austrians at the Battle of Königgrätz. “Bismarck punched his fist on his desk,” writes historian Jonathan Steinberg, “and cried “I have beaten then all! All!’”

Neo-Ottomanism, Turkey’s version of Neo-conservativism, previously almost discredited, is now in the ascendant. Neo-Ottomanism can be described as “a dramatic shift from the traditional Turkish foreign policy of the Kemalist [type], which emphasized looking westward towards Europe with the goal of avoiding the instability and sectarianism of the Middle East (emphasis added).” Instead “Neo-Ottomanism promotes greater political engagement (read: interference) of the modern Republic of Turkey within regions formerly under the rule of the Ottoman Empire” of which it is a successor state. In practical terms this means more intervention in Syria, a continuance in the break with Israel, possible incursions into Iraqi-Kurdistan for which there is a 1990s precedent by former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller.

If Erdoğan was previously perceived as a bit unbearable, something of a hothead, he’ll be insufferable now and for the foreseeable future. How big a chair at the big boys table is he going to demand? With NATOs second largest armed forces of 640,000 troops, it’ll be fairly sizable.

For the foreseeable future Turkey’s fate is inextricably bound with that of President Erdoğan. With Erdoğan in such a commanding role in regards to his peers and the club he wants to join in Davos, it’s going to be tough when he’s ironically bested by the only leader the West cannot stomach, Vladimir Putin. Is this an opening for Putin and Erdoğan to settle the Armenian issue?


Might Putin shave Erdoğan and Turkey away from the Atlantic Alliance? Putin and Erdoğan share similar conservative domestic and foreign policy ideologies. What of the NATO-Turkish partnership? Does Turkey close İncirlik Air Force Base every time it gets an itch, or wants to retaliate for some perceived slight? Erdoğan is notorious for perceiving slights where none exist. For instance, he walked out of a speech by Shimon Peres because Peres hurt his feeling, then Erdoğan used it as an excuse to dissolve the entente between Israel and Turkey. Is this the kind of behavior NATO can expect? Even now İncirlik Air Force Base is closed to US flights. Consider: İncirlik is “home to A-10s, the most reliable manned aircraft the US possesses for providing air support to ground forces fighting Isis.” Is this a temporary bug or long-term feature?

Then there is the domestic American fallout. Facts are curious things. In the case of Turkey the many Islamaphobes in the USA (and some of Western Europe) will no doubt inform everyone, correctly, too, that Turkey is governed by Islamists. Then they, or someone like them will point out how NATO—and by NATO I mean the USA who foots 75% of NATO’s bill—is legally and morally obligated to defend Turkey if attacked by an outside force, be it Iran, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia or even Fiji. Is it plausible to imagine a situation where Turkey’s new found èlan might hold the great Atlantic alliance, and America’s 60-70 tactical nuclear weapons currently based in Turkey, hostage? What price would we be willing to pay? Would we extradite Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, once Erdoğan’s partner but now his bête noire. Would we evacuate İncirlik?

How these questions and many others unfold in the near future depend on voters in other nations, plus those in the United States who get to choose between the fascistic Donald Trump and the corporate sellout and former Goldwater Girl, Hillary Clinton.

The voters of the Western democracies must be bewildered (and a bit exhausted) at present. Consider that the following events have occurred in the span of seven days: Brexit, a new British PM, a possible ITexit, an attempted coup in Turkey, and a terrorist attack in Nice, France. Did I miss anything? I’m certain I did. Regardless, all these events give voters everywhere a complicated set of variables to digest before even considering domestic matters, much less voting on them. No wonder everone wants to be on antidepressants. What a week.

I don’t think Erdoğan is lacking in the pelotas o huevos department. I do think he believes his own PR—and when leaders begin to do that they quickly lose touch with the people who put them where they are. That spells trouble. But, that’s for another post. I want to address another crucial point: “If Gulen and his organization were really behind the coup that means it was orchestrated by the CIA.” For the life of me, and perhaps I am naive or just credulous enough to believe the CIA would never get into bed with the Gulenists, I find this rumor making the rounds implausible. The Gulenists stand for everything the United States is opposed to, at least rhetorically. Further, I don’t see Gulenist-American interests in alignment here, either. If you have more, please elucidate.


Just a short while ago this headline scrolled across the television: Judicial Reform Comes to Turkey at Long Last. As widely known, the courts in Turkey have long proven to be Erdoğan’s prime obstacle in recreating the constitution in his image. The news story implied that in the midst of the coup attempt, members of the courts were being rounded up, detained and/or arrested. 188 arrest warrants were issued for members of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors—Turkey’s highest official judicial body—five members were removed at an emergency meeting Saturday morning..

Ever the cagey one, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is taking no chances. While taking on the Hugh Courts he slashes through the lower courts like Alexander sliced through the Gordian Knot. “2,745 judges of duty [in total],” writes RT, were fired Saturday morning.

All of this leads us inexorably to the possible conclusion that the coup was premeditated and orchestrated by Erdoğan or one of his key allies. An Anglo-American court of law would judge this behavior premeditated, indicating clear intent on the part of the anti-coup party, Little Sultan Erdoğan his own self.

So, why is that important?

I’ll let esteemed Col. Lang explain:

“What I am hearing from sources in Turkey is that this was a pre-emptive false flag designed to fail in which the people sent into the coup were sacrificed by their superiors who are Erdoğans adherents in the armed forces.”

If these judicial dismissals aren’t a smoking gun, they’re at least warm shell casings. They point to further purges in the days ahead. How far Erdoğan goes—civil servants, public school teachers, regional administrative workers—no one knows.

Over the weekend of July 15-17, there were several more developments furthering the claim that the coup was a set-up by Erdoğan or that he knew it was coming. First, there was the demand by Erdoğan and his surrogates in the media that the United States must give up Fethullah Gulen before any activites at İncirlik Air Force Base could be resumed. To prove how serious the Turks were several actions were taken to rattle the Americans based there. First, the power was shut off and remained off for at least three days. Pro-Erdoğan prosecutors then raided the air force base, accusing Americans of hiding pro-coup generals and others loyal to Gulen. Following these incidents the air force base was “blocked by Turkish military authorities” and placed under siege. Nothing is going into the base and nothing is coming out. As of 9:40 PM last night the base was still without electricity and remained surrounded by the Turkish military in what is fast becoming the century’s greatest game of chicken, this one between Erdoğan and NATO.

As of this writing—10:12 am Central Time—the total number of those purged is somewhere between 50,000-60,000 Turks deemed disloyal to Erdoğan, the AKP and/or supporter(s) of the Gulenist-terror organization. The BBC writes, “The purge of those deemed disloyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan widened on Tuesday to include teachers, university deans and the media.”

With these measure Erdoğan is cutting broad and deep, like Stalin, before him; eliminating potential sources of opposition before they can coalesce into revolt. With the sacking of teachers, however, it’s clear one of his main aims is the complete destruction of the Kemalist-Secular order in Turkey. Schools have been the repository of Ataturk’s legacy. Where Turkish children have their first encounter with Ataturk, the father of the modern Republic of Turkey. Sweeping away secular teachers will change Turkey irrevocably.

There is more to the purges than just schools. 9,000 people are in custody, for starters and expected to rise much higher. With numbers like these it’s clear that President Erdoğan’s claim the purges are necessary to “cleanse all state institutions” of members of the Gulenist-clique is a lie.

As of 3:00 AM US Central Daylight Savings, the BBC estimated the following have been purged with more to follow:

  • 7,500 soldiers have been detained, including 118 generals and admirals
  • 8,000 police have been removed from their posts and 1,000 arrested
  • 3,000 members of the judiciary, including 1,481 judges, have been suspended
  • 15,200 education ministry officials have lost their jobs
  • 21,000 private school teachers have had their licenses revoked
  • 1,577 university deans (faculty heads) have been asked to resign
  • 1,500 finance ministry staff have been removed
  • 492 clerics, preachers and religious teachers have been fired
  • 393 social policy ministry staff have been dismissed
  • 257 prime minister’s office staff have been removed
  • 100 intelligence officials have been suspended

Again, the BBC makes a crucial observation: “The purge is so extensive that few believe it was not already planned. And there seems little chance that everyone on the list is a Gulenist.”

Some immediate results of the counter-coup and purges: Turkey’s tourism industry (13 percent of GDP) will die. It is unknown what will happen to the EU manufacturing investments made in country over the last 13 years. Will Turkey remain the Continent’s light manufacturer of choice? At three lira to the dollar odds are it will.

Questions remain, however, festering, itching, and irritating. For example, why does the Civil Service make up such disproportionate numbers? The BBC has an interesting, if sad, answer: “The government is weeding out opponents from Turkey’s Alevi community, which numbers some 15 million.” The Turks spell it Alevi, but President Erdoğan’s enemy to the South, Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, calls himself an Alawite. The names are identical.

And what of the poor benighted Kurds? More ambivalence, I say. The status quo, but a violent one, if that makes any sense. Continued migration into cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Eskişehir, Balıkesir, Izmir, Trabzon will face more pressure on already aging infrastructure.

What are we to look for next? A few obvious variables come to mind first. Exit visas. For example, just this morning we learned that Erdoǧan issued a blanket foreign travel ban on all Turkish academics. Curfews in selected areas, those known to have opposed President Erdoğan in the past. Detentions without charge are not without precedent in situations such as these in Turkey. Extended purges from the civil service. Reinstatement of the death penalty have been sent up as a trial balloon in several media outlets.

If, as I believe, Erdoğan’s ultimate aim is to remake Turkey into a fully Islamic society, religious judges, or qadis, will be placed in the former positions of their secular counterparts. Moreover, hejab, or modest dress, will be imposed upon women, thus remaking Turkey into an Aegean Iran overnight. This will be followed by the creation of a morality division of the current police departments. All of this might require the abolition of parliament. At that point NATO has a serious decision to make, if Turkey hasn’t already abrogated the North Atlantic Treaty: Stay and tacitly support Erdoğan—supporting despots in the region is SOP—or go, using one of the Balkan nations for operations conducted out of İncirlik Air Force Base. None of this would surprise me now.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for whatever reason, feels compelled to sweep away the entirety of the old order; the Kemalist-Secular order that jailed him multiple times, but also the same order that brought stability and safety to a shaky new Turkish Republic formed in April, 1920.

As of this writing, it appears Erdoğan and his henchmen in the AKP will succeed. Turkey’s civil society will be dragged back 100 years under the guise of modernity and religion, the greatest paradox of our age. For this writer, however, it’s heartbreaking. Turkey was a second home, and I grieve its loss keenly, every day.

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  1. Tom

    Yeah, Erdogan is such an Islamist he has not once passed a Sharia Law and kicked members of his own party out of it for calling for Sharia Law. Erdogan is committed to secularism and the AKP is a secularist party.

    As for the purges, these are the results of the capture of coup documents during its suppression. Everyone in it has been implicated in some way or another for involvement in the coup.

    Nor was the coup staged. It nearly succeeded, Erdogan made a last minute change of plans at his Hotel and nearly was killed. The Interior Minister was supposed to meet with one of the Coup Plotters but got held up and narrowly avoided execution. Yildrim was supposed to meet with Coup Plotters as well but CHP wanted to discuss a bill in front of Parliament so he skipped and held a full meeting which saved his life. MIT just barely got wind of the coup 30 minutes before it launched and even then was taken by surprise.

    Finally without Democracy, secularism is tyranny. If we don’t let Democracy work, a country can never advance. Kemalism destroyed Turkey’s multiculturalism that flourished under the Ottomans and led to the bloody PKK insurgency and poor economy.

    The people, not the military must remove Erdogan, and as things stand Erdogan can only run once more for president when his term expires in 2019. However he will be 66 at that time and will likely retire.

    Also Hejab and Polygamy are non-issues.

    Democracy won in the coup and the parallel Gulen State is being removed after 40 years of infiltration.

    And Icirilik is open and has been open for the past few days. Airstrikes flown from their recently killed 150+ civilians due to deliberate mis-coordinates by SDF Forces to cleanse the Manbij Plain (And not the first time they pulled that shit). The temporary closure only affected the Turkish Side while they secured the Turkish Aircraft there and arrested those involved in the coup. US side wasn’t affected at all according to CENTCOM and the Base’s own releases.

  2. That sounds like an advertisement for the Little Sultan on the television in Istanbul. Well done!

  3. bajathomas

    My respect, Tom, really good work!
    They would have hired you some 85 years ago
    in Germany and have paid you more than your
    curret Atlanticists…eh, handlers are offering.
    And pretty much the same mindset, too…
    you would have loved the 3rd Reich-guys –
    what a pity for you that that party is over…

  4. Oaktown Girl

    Sean – thank you for this.

  5. Some Guy

    Very interesting, thank you. It has been a long time since I was in Turkey, but I do find your description of the tension and rudeness almost hard to believe given how it contrasts with my recollections (not arguing with you, just seconding your view on the hospitality of the earlier era).

    Having said that, I happened to be in Egypt a little bit before its uprising and, even for a visitor, the tension was palpable. I remember crossing into Jordan and after a day or so it was as if I suddenly was able to unclench teeth I hadn’t realized I was clenching while I was in Egypt. Of course, I wonder how much more Jordan itself can take as the refugees pile in from all sides.

    The relationship of Turkey with the Kurds often reminds me of the U.S. relationship with its Black population. The analogy is far from perfect, but in both cases there is a level of ‘original sin’ and both historical and present grievance within the relationship that seems to prevent the fissures in society from ever quite healing.

  6. Wow, Some Guy, that is one provocative analogy, which I will be pondering before I reply. Good stuff.

  7. markfromireland

    SPK I have to echo Some Guy’s comment about tension as I had an identical experience.

    His analogy to US blacks with the “Mountain Turks” taking the place of the “Nigras” seems to me to be one you could profitably explore.

  8. Tom W Harris

    What Happens Now that the Turkish Coup Has Failed

    For one thing, Tom (the other Tom) will keep on gettin’ paid.

  9. V. Arnold

    Tom W Harris
    July 21, 2016
    For one thing, Tom (the other Tom) will keep on gettin’ paid.

    Yeah, he’s a recent troll who is just a wee bit over zealous re: democracy in Erdogan’s Turkey and the faux democracy in the U.S.. I don’t bother to answer anymore; but do carry on… 🙂

  10. I am going to have to read this tonight… My experience with Turkey is small than SPK.

  11. V. Arnold

    What Happens Now that the Turkish Coup Has Failed

    It seems pretty obvious it plays out according to the events unfolding.
    Turkey is a most key NATO ally and not going to be allowed much leeway given its strategic geo-political position.
    That said; the U.S. has to tread softly; lest Russia gains a new ally: America’s greatest fear today.
    A hell of a lot of this is just drama; not to be taken too seriously.
    Most of this is a problem of the U.S.’s own making; duh!!!

  12. I just find it a little bit…something…that people are weeping over the end of a century of Kemalism, rather than, you know, wondering how it is that the Kemalists had 100 years to bring secular prosperity to the Anatolian heartland and cement secular democracy in Turkey, but instead left it up to a soft-religious nationalist to do it and take the credit. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if what we’re going to be seeing is an Iran-on-the-Aegean in the making.

  13. EmilianoZ

    Great backgrounder on modern Turkey, thanks!

    I think alawism/alevism (that is persecuted in Turkey) is close to Shia Islam. We need another backgrounder on Sunni vs Shia Islam.

  14. not-just-putin

    «the only leader the West cannot stomach, Vladimir Putin»

    That’s too short a list :-).

    In Europe it is easily detectable that there are USA-UK sponsored relentless propaganda campaigns against two main enemies: Russia and Germany. It is not even about Putin and Merkel personally. Sure Putin gets depicted as a tyrant who invaded the Ukraine, and Merkel as a sadist who enjoys starving the poor of debtor nations, but it is really about targeting two countries that are traditional “bad guys” and a bit too independent in their economic policy.

    Countries like Turkey, China, Vietnam that do the enormous favour of providing masses of really cheap labour for offshoring are instead cherished, and will continue to be. Profits don’t smell :-).

  15. Thepanzer

    SPK in the house!

  16. marku52

    Brilliant updater. Thanks for the info.

  17. Peter*

    I waded through this whining diatribe and was reminded of the Ugly Amerikan but that may not be applicable so Flaming Orientalist comes out of the closet might be more accurate. The lament for the good old days in Turkey when Turks knew their place, making westerners feel comfortable and appreciated are gone and the author is furious, they even moved the whorehouse to a less convenient location, the unappreciative Wogs!

    A good old fashioned bloody military coup with a cult of personality will put the poor uncivilized Turks back on the road to progress and insure that the tourists can enjoy their Turkish delights unaffected by the mayhem their governments are inflicting on the MENA.

  18. Jagger

    I am weak on Turkish history and current politics but I do wonder when a coup is defeated by the people. If Erdogan was such a disaster for Turkey, deserving immediate removal via coup rather than the democratic process, then I can’t imagine why the people would rise up in his defense. And apparently the people backed Erdogan rather than the military. Again acknowledging my ignorance, I am going to assume the Turkish people decided who they believe is serving their best interests. So apparently they believe democracy and Erdogan is more important than secularism and rule by military dictatorship. Whether Erdogan will actually be the best man for Turkey’s near term future and whether democracy will remain strong, only time will tell.

    Makes me wonder about Turkey’s recent actions towards Russia and the US. A year or so back, Turkey shot down a Russian bomber. Now, they shut down and power down Incirlik. Makes me wonder if the Russian incident was implemented by the military against the wishes of Erdogan and now with the military hobbled, the Incirlik incident was pushed by Erdogan. Although it is hard to tell the true significance of the Incirlik incident.

  19. We have a new Saddam Hussein – Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (sorry about the missing accent) There needs to be one.

  20. Ché Pasa

    At what point do self-determination and self-government enter the picture?

    Only when they comport with the requirements of Angl0-American elite interests?

  21. Peter*


    The only other Ba’athist dictator I could find in the region is Bashar Hafez al-Assad and he had WMD’s.

  22. Hugh

    For the next 6 months to one year, or about as long as it takes to dislodge ISIS from Raqqa and Mosul, the US response to Erdogan’s establishment of an Islamic dictatorship in Turkey will be muted. After that, all bets are off. The US has been Turkey’s main sponsor in NATO for decades. But while the US has been trying to globalize NATO’s mission in support of its various foreign adventures, NATO’s primary mission, even before the fall of the USSR, remains internal cohesion. That is keeping the major European states: France, the UK, and Germany from going to war with each other. An important secondary mission since the demise of the USSR is the defense of Eastern Europe. This is why NATO has such strong support in Poland and the Baltics. After ISIS’ land base in Syria and Iraq is rolled up, it will likely become just another terrorist franchise but with less cachet than it currently possesses.

    During the Cold War, Turkey with its large armed forces was an indispensable southern anchor to NATO. Post-USSR, the US strategic vision changed to seeing it as both a buffer between Europe and the Mideast and as a stabilizing influence in the Mideast. For neocons, it was principally about the bases, Incirlik in particular. But for the Iraq wars and during most of the war on ISIS, they were frustrated. Neocons are also about Western orientation and the export of Western-style democracy, or at least its trappings. Erdogan’s counter-coup purge of Western influences and his establishment of a de facto Islamic dictatorship is going to be very hard for them to swallow.

    What all this comes down to is that Turkey’s usefulness to NATO and its main supporter the US has gone from critical to marginal and is rapidly veering negative. I think Turkey’s position in NATO will be downgraded and I do not see it in NATO 5 years from now. This does not mean that Turkey will suddenly become a Russian ally. I think that is silly. Putin absolutely does not want to promote another Islamic state anywhere near Russia’s borders. Nor is an anti-Alawite Turkey going to play well with Shia Iran or a rump and still Alawite dominated Syria. The Alawites are a branch of Shia Islam.

    Other notes: The Turkish economic “miracle” came about through a combination of the institution of laissez-faire economics at home and heavy foreign investment. Turkey became Europe’s Mexico and a neoliberal’s wet dream. Much as happened in China there has been a major migration from rural areas to urban centers. While many of these workers are better off than before, most of the wealth they generated has gone to a class of Turkish super rich. Many of these jobs were at the expense of European workers. As an emerging market, Turkey is very susceptible to changes in the wider world economy. And as economic growth in Europe slows, much of the shine from the Turkish economic miracle will fade.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in Germany. It has a large Turkish minority, about 1.5 million Turkish citizens plus another 3 million with at least one Turkish parent. How will they react to events in Turkey? How will Merkel?

    The Turkish military has mostly US equipment. Turkey doesn’t have the money to just go out and replace it with inferior Russian products. I can see both purchases and deliveries slowing in the next few years with consequent deterioration in the Turkish armed forces.

    The counter-coup purges simply exacerbate internal Turkish conflicts. And then there is the demographic factor. Turkey’s population is expected to grow from 82.5 million to 101 million by 2050. This will only increase tensions and poverty in the coming years and with the current dictatorship.

  23. Blissex

    «And apparently the people backed Erdogan rather than the military.»

    That his party is popular cannot be denied.

    But it seems suspicious that so many “spontaneous” “grassroots” demonstrators in Ankara seemed to have had so many newly made turkish flags at home ready to be brought out. Also different parts of Turkey reacted differently.

    Also many of the soldier said that they were not told that it was a coup, just an exercise. And in the turkish army you obey or get shot on the spot (sometimes you just get shot on the spot regardless, it has a very brutal culture).

    It seems like it was a staged coup, or at least well-planned entrapment.

  24. Blissex

    There is another very important angle that USA readers may not be aware of…

    An absolute condition of EU membership is to be a rule-of-law democracy. To the point that recently the EU have issues notices to the Polish and Hungarian government that they are becoming too fascist and not democratic enough.

    EU membership (Turkey has a small but important part in Europe) was to be the crowning achievement of the kemalist movement, the recognition that Turkey was a modern democratic state and not a middle eastern banana republic. There have been no army coups since 1980 (they happened every 10 years previously) because of that prospect.

    Erdogan’s actions have made it impossible for a long long time for the EU membership of Turkey to be even considered. Now he recently negotiated a special free trade zero-tariff agreement with the EU that however does not give turks visa-free travel to the EU (which means mass illegal immigration, something that the UK was very keen on), and even less so legal immigration rights.

  25. Blissex

    «Erdogan’s actions have made it impossible for a long long time for the EU membership of Turkey to be even considered.»

    It is in essence another country turning their back on the EU, like the UK. Both countries had huge empires that they lost, and the elites of both countries are very nostalgic, and don’t want to be “just another EU member”.

  26. scruff

    Is self-determination and self-governance *ever* aligned with Anglo-American elite interests? Even in England or America?

  27. Ken Hoop

    This might have been corrected elsewhere. Alawites are not Alevis. Alawites believe Ali pre-existed before the world, and assisted in its creation.

  28. Bill Hicks

    Small point–but most historians of Nazi Germany these days do NOT believe that the Nazis were responsible for starting the Reichstag Fire. Rather–like Bush/Cheney after 9/11–they so benefitted politically from the disaster that many just assumed they were responsible.

  29. Hugh

    Ken Hoop, you are correct about the Alevis not being the same as Alawites. However, both are Shia sects, and Turkey is mostly Sunni.

  30. EmilianoZ

    2 good movies where you can learn something about the early modern Turkey without sacrificing any entertainment value: Russell Crowe’s superb deeply moving “Water diviner” and Elia Kazan’s “America America”.

  31. DMC

    Alevis are mostly but not exclusively Kurds, while Alawites are mostly Arabs. They’re both seen as a bit weird in that they incorporate certain traditions that are not strictly orthodox, even from the Shi’a standpoint. As such, some Sunni authorities consider them heretics, if not outright pagans and idolators. Some scholars detect the influence of a Kurdish proto-religion in Alevi practice.

  32. Ché Pasa

    “The new Saddam Hussein” is only a step away from The New Hitler, a title once reserved for Putin the Terrible, Rapist of the Crimea, etc., etc.

    Sean Paul Kelley’s sadness at what has happened to/is happening to Turkey both pre and post-coup attempt is hardly unexpected, but like so much of the post-mortem analysis of the failed coup it seems to have almost nothing to do with the Turkish people and their interests and has almost everything to do with Anglo-American social, cultural, economic, geo-political and other interests. “We” want a Turkey that fits our parameters. What the Turks want is irrelevant. Especially if they get close to what they want through a politician like Erdogan — The New Supreme Evil according to the Anglo-American imperialists, yet apparently very popular among his own people.

    If he is as bad and as evil as the analysts say, isn’t it axiomatic — according to the rules of the game as established in the Anglo-American halls of power post 9/11 — to remove him by any means necessary sooner or later, no matter the chaos that is likely to ensue? Isn’t that how one Muslim-majority nation after another has been dealt with?

    If Turkey refuses to follow the demands of the western imperial powers, is there any other choice?

    Erdogan is accused of wanting to revive the Ottoman Empire and become its Sultan, paralleling the accusations against Putin that he wants to be Czar of All the Russias if not ultimately wanting to revive the Soviet Union. Whether the accusations are accurate or not, the implication is that the Czars (and Stalin) and the Sultans of yore were embodiments of absolute evil. But is that the way the Russian or Turkish people see it? More to the point, do their views have any relevance?

  33. V. Arnold

    Ché Pasa
    July 22, 2016

    I liked the points you make, very relevant, IMO.
    As a long term (13+ years) self exile from the U.S., my observations of Americans particularly, and westerners generally, abroad, is a very provincial, arrogant, and bigoted view of other cultures. This seems to be most true of cultures far removed from the western norms and mores.
    I have made the acquaintance of many westerners here in S.E. Asia and I’m gobsmacked by the intolerance of these cultures values and practices. At this time I choose not to associate with any westerners I know and am reluctant to meet new people from any western country.
    Even my own sister, who spent a year here, hated the heat, culture, and the shit-hole (her words) town I live in (it’s on the infamous River Kwai). I do not live in town but in a semi-rural area outside of the city.
    So, I’m loathe to believe much of anything I read in any western press and most especially the MSM (Media Seriously Mutilated); not to say Ian is MSM; he’s not.
    Hell, I live in a country under a military dictatorship and to hear the western press it’s a horrible situation and highly repressive; the U.S. ambassador, Glynn Davies, has done a wondrous job of alienating Thailand from the U.S. (thank god) and moving it towards Russia and China.
    Last words; the coup has had zero effect on me, my Thai family, my wife and her job teaching as a government civil servant, or any of the myriad Thai’s I know from all walks of life. The news, while under pressure to self censure still manages to get the important stuff out; hell, you should see the political cartoons in the Nation newspaper; very provocative and never miss a chance to poke the government.

  34. V. Arnold

    In fact, here’s a link to The Nation news paper’s political cartoon page. Please look at it;
    The latest is a crackdown on the Thai tourist sex industry; but do look at the archive just under today’s cartoon. General Prayut is not spared very pointed attention, aka criticism.

  35. V. Arnold

    Addendum; you will not see this in Turkey…

  36. Hugh

    Progressives simply discredit themselves when they defend the likes of Putin and Erdogan just because they (progressives) have problems with the US Establishment. Suddenly, it becomes out of bounds to criticize Erdogan for his corruption, his hunger for power, his neoliberalism, his mistreatment of the Kurds, and his privileging of one religious sect over another. We are told we are applying “Western” values to the situation and that this is some kind of new imperialism. If the Turkish people want it …

    Well, that’s just it. Millions in Turkey: the Kurds, the secularists, etc. don’t want it. How come suddenly their wishes don’t count? If a majority of the Turkish people want to jump over a cliff, are we supposed to stand back and applaud? And too Turkey is not the only country on the planet. It is at best a regional power, but it lives in a world with much more powerful neighbors: the EU and Russia, and with a hegemon, the US.

    We progressives need over-arching concepts to give our views coherence and legitimacy, and to distinguish them from everyone else’s. I have offered kleptocracy as a way to understand current politics and economics worldwide. I have also pointed out numerous times that the fundamental question is: What kind of a society do you want to live in? And I have added to this question the very important qualification, not just for yourself and the people like you but the people not like you. What it comes down to is: What kind of a society would you would want to live in if you weren’t in the majority but in the minority? And let’s be real clear. All of us, one way or another, can be defined into a minority. So you see, it isn’t just about what a majority of “Turks” may or may not want at the moment.

  37. Ken Hoop

    More generally, do you render your criticisms to the academic or do you do it in conjunction eg with helping the interventionists in the US government attempt to overthrow the Iranian mullahs or steal Ukraine from the Russian orbit, escapades like this?
    A good rule would be an acknowledgement from you representing progressives that the US has enough problems, corruption and deficiencies to negate the interventionist option.

  38. Guest

    It’s not ITexit. Either uscIta-lia , or exIt-aly in English.

  39. Hvd

    It is not defending Putin to say that with regard to the Ukraine he is more in the right than the u.s. position. Nor is it defending Erdogan to suggest that he may be acting in the legitimate interests of a significant number of his countrymen. Nor is it defending either of them to suggest that they have been the targets of largely false western propaganda.

    The problem lies in attempting to restore something approximating balance to a discussion of what is happening in the world – to distinguish legitimate aspirations of people from all of the hyperbolic claptrap that the arguments for us (whichever side you are on) and against them entails.

    There are damn few if any among the worlds leadership class who can’t be tarred with the same brush. It seems to go with our common humanity. The issue is to be able to point to what is legitimate and what is illegitimate in the actions and aspirations of each. This is something that I believe Ian is doing with respect to his analysis of Trump for example.

  40. Ché Pasa


    Enough said. The relentlessness of the anti-NewHitler propaganda (whomever has that designation this month) often makes rational consideration impossible — which is the point, of course.

    b over at Moon of Alabama put up a remarkably balanced perspective on the upheavals in Turkey, and naturally has been taking some heat for it. After all, it does not fit the received narrative of the failed coup and its aftermath, and its historical perspective of Turkish coups does not fit the benign notions about them floating around in many western circles.



  41. John

    I have noticed many westerners seem to admire Ataturk.

    What is not said in this article and when many talk about Ataturk is:

    Ataturk and the Young Turks continued the work of the Ottomans and wiped out what was left of the modern Greek(Roman) population from their own homeland in Anatolia.

    “Ataturk felt no obligation to adhere to the contemptible treaty”

    Though Greeks and Armenians living under centuries of Turkish rule welcomed been free from Turkish rule in their own homelands. Greeks and Armenians living in their own homeland should of not tried to over throw Turkish colonialism. Apparently Turkish colonial rule gets a pass. Greeks and Armenians should of been obliged to accept Turkish rule.

    I don’t know how the Greeks or Armenians were invading when they were in their own homeland.

    I am not sure what Greeks were supposed to do in the 1920s when the Greek Genocide and ethnic cleansing had already been taking place since 1914 and continued until 1923. Apparently Greeks should do nothing. They should not protect their people, be treated like shit 2nd class citizens, watch their culture disappear like it did in the rest of Anatolia, give up their land their homes, history, families and way of life.

    But as it seems many are glad the Greeks were wiped out anyway.

    Then the Turks moved in to houses and businesses of the Greeks in Thrace, Constantinople the Anatolian coasts where the cities you mention are “Aegean and Black Sea cities like Izmir, Bursa, Sinop and Trabzon” after what was left of Greeks was wiped out and ethnically cleansed by Ataturk and the Turks. And now today off the Aegean coast we have Turkey violating Greek waters and airspace constantly because Anatolia was not enough.

    Kemalists then did the same in Syria in the 1930s taking Hatay province and putting Turkish settlers there. Then committed the Istanbul pogrom of Greeks in the 1950s and then in 1974 invading Cyprus committing ethnic cleansing other war crimes and moving in settlers.

    If Native Americans and Africans in the days of European colonialism were fighting for their homelands and freedom I would not call Native Americans and Africans the ones invading.

    What many don’t seem to get is Erdogan is the other side of the same coin as the Kemalists and Ataturk.

  42. Hugh

    People don’t take progressives seriously because they are undisciplined and at least as incoherent in their positions as any wingnut. This is especially true in foreign affairs. If you find yourself defending or justifying Putin or Erdogan, you have serious problems with your coherence filter. They are both shit sandwiches, and who, in their right mind, defends shit sandwiches? The only result from such an exercise is to fly your credibility into the ground.

  43. Hvd

    And your disciplined position on Ukraine and Syria and Putins role vis a vis u.s. role in both is?

  44. Ché Pasa

    So the coherent answer is to overthrow them and their governments and replace them with more amenable/pleasing shit sandwiches?

    Nonsense. You’re better than this.

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