Setting the Facts About Turkey Straight

Daniel Pipes’ recent  article on Turkey exemplifies the type of analytical mistakes Western analysts have been making about what exactly is transpiring in Turkey and the reasons for it. Mr. Pipes, for whom I have tremendous respect as I agree with his exceptional analyses most of the time, appears to have also fallen in the same traps that have prevented better understanding of Turkey since Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power. Hence, I would like to go over his September 27 piece titl…

  1. Chris Johnson

    “Are you sure they have any PR people?”

    Whom are they?  Members of the opposition parties?  I would cynically presume the opposition parties would only favor a change of the party wielding the corruption.

  2. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    This is very helpful, indeed — and sober.

  3. Okan Altiparmak
    CJRun: “Are you sure they have any PR people?”

    Whom are they?  Members of the opposition parties?  I would cynically presume the opposition parties would only favor a change of the party wielding the corruption. · Sep 30 at 3:32am

    The opposition parties have been inept. Nothing ever changes in any party because once a party is elected, they have all the reasons to keep it corrupt. This is due to the selection of the MP’s directly by the party leader and not by the people. People vote for the party, and the party leader practically picks the members of the parliament to represent them. Naturally the MPs end up representing the party leader and not the constituents. That is at the core of the problem, which no politician wants to solve.

  4. liberal jim

    Thanks for the post.  Informative

  5. Claire Berlinski
    C

    Okan, I agree with most of what you’ve written. But I think–again, this is a question of the emphasis–that to ask whether the CHP and MHP are “pro-Western” is to ask the wrong question. It’s not mere Akyolist agitprop to observe that they show no signs of engaging with reality. They seem as mired in fantasy as the AKP, and they certainly seem less interested in winning elections. A truly “Western” CHP would have demanded and received Kılıçdaroğlu’s resignation the day after the last election, for example. When any of these parties can get rid of their leaders by some means other than leaked sex tapes, I’ll get excited about them. 

  6. FX Meaney

    So Erdogan has unfettered power and is making warlike noises towards Israel and the EU (via Cyprus) and ordering air strikes into Iraq chasing the Kurds as he tours the Arab world building Nasser-type adulation.  Sounds to me like Pipes, Goldman and Altiparmak are all in agreement on the principal point – a dangerous man is waving a lit match in a tinderbox.    

  7. Okan Altiparmak

    The CHP and MHP are certainly as mired in fantasy as the AKP. But that is not the point. The point is there is no politician who is truly Western in Turkey, and that is exactly the point. The political system, or the political mafioso if you will, will not let the Turkish people determine the direction of the nation and have nearly always been imposing their narrow outlook on the people. It does not really change with the party that wins. The only change is in the extent of the exploitation of the state power and of the appearance of undertaking reforms. No leader resigns after losing. Erdogan may let go of the leadership of his party, but only because he will (or believes he will) become the president after his third term. No politician will let go of power, and no one has had power like Erdogan has now.

  8. Okan Altiparmak

    I should add that no real change will come until the absolute power of the party leader over his party (not to mention all three of the executive, legislative and judicial branches if elected) is taken away. And I see no pressure by anyone, domestically or internationally, demanding such change. If anyone has any idea about how we can prod the international community to start talking about it, I am ready to lend an ear. Because demanding it domestically will not suffice even if such a demand could be mustered.

  9. Palaeologus

    Okan, thanks for this. I meant to pester Claire about Pipes’ piece but forgot.

    One thing that irked me was the reference to the PKK’s “guerilla tactics.” It’s not inaccurate to describe them that way, but Daniel is usually inclined to call a spade a spade.

    This rings true to me:

    I say rampant because even though I am myself a pro-business capitalist, I do not favor foreign investment which is mostly speculative and does not help create jobs. The AKP lets it al happen as long as its cronies and the government gets a share of the pie.

    The Dems in Detroit have been doing the same for decades. It’s easy for an outsider to presume that an opposition is anti-business, anti-capitalist, and/or anti-free-market when the group in power is corrupt.

  10. Claire Berlinski
    C
    Okan Altiparmak: I should add that no real change will come until the absolute power of the party leader over his party (not to mention all three of the executive, legislative and judicial branches if elected) is taken away. And I see no pressure by anyone, domestically or internationally, demanding such change. If anyone has any idea about how we can prod the international community to start talking about it, I am ready to lend an ear. Because demanding it domestically will not suffice even if such a demand could be mustered. · Sep 29 at 5:53pm

    Edited on Sep 29 at 05:56 pm

    Hire good PR people. Not the amateurs. 

  11. Okan Altiparmak
    FX Meaney: So Erdogan has unfettered power and is making warlike noises towards Israel and the EU (via Cyprus) and ordering air strikes into Iraq chasing the Kurds as he tours the Arab world building Nasser-type adulation.  Sounds to me like Pipes, Goldman and Altiparmak are all in agreement on the principal point – a dangerous man is waving a lit match in a tinderbox.     · Sep 30 at 5:32am

    “A dangerous man is waving a lit match in a tinderbox.” Yes…

  12. Roberto
    Okan Altiparmak: Getting this right is the difference between formulating effective, informed policy toward Turkey and formulating policy in response to a caricature. ·

    So Mr. Altiparmak how would you craft an effective, informed US foreign policy towards Turkey? What would it consist of?

  13. Okan Altiparmak
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    Okan Altiparmak: I should add that no real change will come until the absolute power of the party leader over his party (not to mention all three of the executive, legislative and judicial branches if elected) is taken away. And I see no pressure by anyone, domestically or internationally, demanding such change. If anyone has any idea about how we can prod the international community to start talking about it, I am ready to lend an ear. Because demanding it domestically will not suffice even if such a demand could be mustered. · Sep 29 at 5:53pm

    Edited on Sep 29 at 05:56 pm

    Hire good PR people. Not the amateurs.  · Sep 29 at 7:31pm

    This assumes that they have hired someone. Are you sure they have any PR people? I am not so sure.

  14. Okan Altiparmak
    Roberto

    Okan Altiparmak: Getting this right is the difference between formulating effective, informed policy toward Turkey and formulating policy in response to a caricature. ·

    So Mr. Altiparmak how would you craft an effective, informed US foreign policy towards Turkey? What would it consist of? · Sep 30 at 11:38am

    I firmly think seeing the reality sitting in front of a person instead of hallucinating and feeding his/her own wishful thinking would be a good place to start. The achievements for which Erdogan and the AKP have been given need to be re-evaluated. Have they really taken place? If they have, how? May there be ulterior motives for them, i.e. are they intended to be genuine and lasting, or have they been undertaken strictly for PR purposes and to appear credible or to bribe the international community, so to speak? Have undesirable developments taken place simultaneously? What are they? Do the negatives override the positives? Are the negatives at all acceptable? It does not appear such questions have been asked with regard to the AKP. To the contrary, whatever the AKP (and the pro-AKP Western) PR machine has fed the West seems to have been accepted unconditionally.

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