While procrastinating both homework and packing, I found this article, from the upcoming November 28 issue of Time, in my Twitter feed.
The piece didn't change my skeptical opinion of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, though I feel it was meant too. Sure, there were passing mentions of jailing journalists and oppressing Kurds, but those things don't really matter, do they? This paragraph does a good job of summing up the article:
He has, it is true, also displayed an occasional autocratic streak, running roughshod over political rivals, tossing enemies into jail and intimidating the media. Many political analysts, in Turkey and the West, suspect his desire to rewrite the constitution is designed to amass more executive power. But to his admirers, these failings pale against his successes. Democratic, economically ascendant and internationally admired: as political templates go, Turkey's is pretty irresistible to people shaking off decades of authoritarian, impoverishing rule — and for Westerners worried about what those people might do next.
But Erdogan's Turkey cannot be a model "political template" when things like this are happening:
For all its desire for Turkey to be seen as a modern state equal in freedoms to any in Europe, his government has jailed 68 journalists, accusing them of complicity in coup plots. On a recent trip to Istanbul, two top journalists agreed to talk with me about Erdogan only if I promised not to name them.
And of course, there's this gem from early on:
A good politician knows how to milk his moment: the Cairo visit was the first leg of Erdogan's triumphant mid-September sweep through the newly liberated North African states. There were tumultuous welcomes, too, in Tunis and Tripoli. Then it was time for Erdogan to take a bow on the biggest stage. The trip culminated at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, where President Obama, ignoring Erdogan's recent criticism of U.S. policy in the Middle East and his flaming diplomatic row with Israel, lauded him for showing "great leadership" in the region. [emphasis mine]
Because the first thing the POTUS should do to a head of government criticizing US policy in his region is praise him for "great leadership!"
Of course, I am certainly not an expert on Turkey or on Erdogan - I don't know if this piece accurately and equally depicts the good and the bad of Erdogan's government. I'm sure he has done good for many Turks, leading to his excellent political fortune, but he's undeniably got some demons, which the Time author seems to skim over too quickly, in my opinion. Anyway, this is why I would love the opinions of someone who is a Turkey expert - and what good fortune that Ricochet has one! Claire Berlinski, what do you think of this article? Is it a fair portrait of the man, or some skewed, Western liberal image of the Muslim governments America should be supporting?