Latest from Claire on the Situation in Turkey

 

Claire Berlinski has a long piece up at The Tower that is well worth reading. Her tone, passion, and rage here remind me of Wartime, Paul Fussell’s extraordinary memoir/history of WWII. These are Claire’s final few paragraphs:

A few loud sound bombs go off about a street away from me. At least I hope they’re just sound bombs, but by this point I’m so tired that for all I really care they could be H-bombs. All I want to do is sleep. A Christian cemetery in Şişli has somehow been damaged in all of this, details unclear.

Someone warns me to be careful because they’re targeting Jews and journalists, running through Asmalımescit with clubs in their hands and shouting “God is Greatest,” so I shouldn’t go out. I figure since they’re targeting half the country anyway, there’s no reason for me to feel especially threatened.

I don’t know what happened next. I fell asleep in my chair. I don’t know what’s happening now, because I haven’t checked the news. It’s quiet outside, from what I can see. But by the time you read this, more will be dead and more will be blind, I suspect.

According to legend, when the great historian Robert Conquest was asked if he wanted to rename the updated edition of The Great Terror, his history of the Stalinist purges, he replied, “How about, “I Told You So, You F***ing Fools.”

And that’s what I’m saying now to every single lazy journalist and policy wonk, professional sycophant, diplomat and idiot pundit who’s never so much as visited this place, the duly-funded social scientists and craven Western politicians and everyone else who for years swallowed Erdoğan’s nonsense and helped to manufacture the fantasy that Turkey was getting more and more democratic by the day.

Only months ago, not an hour went by without some dimwit churning out an article about the economic and the reformist wonders of the AKP and its newly-emerged Anatolian middle class, the magnificent result of the AKP’s mix of moderately-Islamist daddy-state, fiscal discipline and free-market economic policies. One of the best performers of its kind in the world, a model for every Arab who felt like springing, the blossoming of Turkey’s open society, proof that Islam and democracy can mix just fine. Now, I have no idea if Islam and democracy can mix just fine. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. But I can tell you one thing for sure: authoritarianism and democracy can’t mix just fine. And this was just obvious, blindingly obvious, years ago.

I have no idea what will come next, now that things that have been overwhelmingly apparent for the past decade are finally getting attention and coverage in English. But this I do know: There are real people here. They are not pawns to be moved about on a geopolitical chess board. They are not subjects for fashionable tales told by people climbing up the greasy pole of their careers in the West. They could use some honesty from the rest of the world, because they’re sure not going to get it from their government or their media and they know it. So if you had any part in creating this situation, whether by cheering the rise of this authoritarian government or promoting the fantasy of Turkey’s advanced democracy and this nonsense about it being a model Muslim nation, go look at those photos of the kids with no eyes. Then get down on your knees and ask God to forgive you—because those kids, they’re not going to.

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  1. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @ctlaw

    Were they actually vocalizing the English words: “God is greatest”? Were they saying “Allahu Akbar”? Or were they saying something in Turkish?

    It realy annoys me when the Western leftist media says protesters were yelling “God is greatest” when they actually were yelling “Allahu Akbar” to alter the impression given.

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    @

    Judith:

    Thanks for the link and EVERYBODY…..please read the whole piece. It is an eye-opener and though gas not tear free.

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    @Skyler

    Fanatical Islam is growing. Perhaps history will show that this will be the time that turkey, Byzantium if you will, was lost again. Next will be Greece and Albania and maybe they will come at Vienna and not get turned back this time. Unlike last time, they have already infiltrated most of Europe. And we installed Islamic governments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We did not export the universal and natural Bill of Rights to those nations, guaranteeing that the fanatics will be in charge there again. Terrorism is defeated by Rule of Law, and Islam is exporting terror. We need to wake up and stop spending trillions on this war while they spend thousands. We need to get serious about destroying fanatical Islam before it gets too hard and civilization ends with a bang, not a whimper.

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    @rayconandlindacon

    Islam at the gates of Vienna?  How quaint.  Islam will never attack the gates again, because they have been given visas or simply crossed the somewhat non-existent EU border.  Sort of like the United States border.  

    The battle to take the West will never happen, because the West is handing itself over without much noise at all.

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    @TomDavis

    I suspect that many of us will be quoting Mr. Conquest over the next 10 or 20 years.

    • #5
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    @NickStuart

    Maybe President Obama could give a speech. Yeah, that’s the ticket, a speech. 

    “There are those who say … ”

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    @

    Raycon’s comment just floored me and this article. It gets across how power is what these fanatics want and will get until everyone is blinded.I spent my past week with ethnic food people, one out of Iraq, some from Pakistan. We are talking about financing but invariably they find out my background and share their immigrant story too. They are Muslim. One has built a mosque here in Toronto, so very successful in business and also with his family. They all said their religion has been hijacked by Imams. They send their children to Catholic schools and not Muslim as they say their heads will be filled with hate. They see the benefit of religion but are seeking to find common bonds across all religion.

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    @KayofMT

    I have friends from Turkey who sent me this article.

    http://mintsui.tumblr.com/post/52171351412/nothing-new-on-the-western-front-by-mine-bas-bayar

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    @CorneliusJuliusSebastian

    Bracing to say the least. I doubt she will be willing to do so, but she needs to get out of there. And Raycon is correct, there will be no Jan III Sobieski to save Vienna this time.

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    @Zafar

    An excellent article by CB – I urge you all to read it (perhaps before commenting?).  Of particular interest:

    “Here’s what you need to know, bare-bones: The supposedly secular Turkish Republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk almost a century ago was an authoritarian state, although not a totalitarian one. And yes, Jeanne Kirkpatrick was right, there is a difference. I went behind the Iron Curtain when the Wall was still standing. The USSR was indeed—immediately, visibly, on first sight—an evil empire. The Turkish Republic wasn’t remotely like that; there has never been all-encompassing government enslavement of the citizenry here, nor is there now, and I pray there never will be. But since its emergence after World War I, Turkey has always had weak institutions—and a state that’s strong as an ox.

    “Over the decades, the authoritarianism has come in different flavors. Once they served it state-worship style, and from time-to-time military style; now they serve it piety style. But it’s still the same thing. They just changed the wrapping paper.”

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    @SgtDad

    ctlaw: Claire Berlinski is no leftist. I suspect she just translated the Turkish for us. You are right, of course, “God is Greatest” or “Allahu Akbar” is now a prelude to the perpetration of barbaric evil.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @ctlaw
    SgtDad: ctlaw: Claire Berlinski is no leftist. I suspect she just translated the Turkish for us. You are right, of course, “God is Greatest” or “Allahu Akbar” is now a prelude to the perpetration of barbaric evil. · 43 minutes ago

    Therein lies the problem.  “God is greatest” or the “God is great” uttered by many English-speaking Evangelical Christians is almost never even remotely associated with evil. I’ll assume there is some similar Hebrew phrase similarly uttered by Jews, Latin phrase uttered by Catholics, etc.

    Obfuscating by translating tends to defame others swept into the obfuscated definition.

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    @SalvatorePadula

    ctlaw- where is the obfuscation? If someone is reporting from Turkey, shouldn’t you assume the statements being reported were originally made in Turkish?

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    @ctlaw
    Salvatore Padula: ctlaw- where is the obfuscation? If someone is reporting from Turkey, shouldn’t you assume the statements being reported were originally made in Turkish? · 0 minutes ago

    Not the phrase in question.

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    @MontyAdams

    I find it interesting that Claire is so disgusted with the west and all the people outside of Turkey for letting this happen, and that she chides the west for its indifference toward the real people inside of Turkey. Isn’t it in fact these real people in Turkey who are responsible for putting Erdogan and the AKP into power? Isn’t it to a large degree the pathologies inherent to the Islamic faith that make it so easy for authoritarianism to take root? Rage against the west all you want Claire, but know there’s a certain whiff of self-loathing in your writing because the people you should be really mad at, and the people who should really feel terrible about the eyeless youths are the fellow muslims and fellow Turks who’ve done this to themselves, not anyone in the west.

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    @SalvatorePadula

    ctlaw- why not?

    • #16
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    @ctlaw
    Salvatore Padula: ctlaw- why not? · 6 minutes ago

    Are you serious? The experience of any sentient adult indicates “Allahu Akbar” is a specific religious phrase typically said in the original Arabic even by speakers in countries with different languages.

    Consider this instance. Just as Nadal Hasan used the original Arabic (and some reporters chose to translate), it seems likely a Turk would also.

     

     

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    @Sisyphus
    Salvatore Padula: ctlaw- why not? · 5 minutes ago

    Because it is a Koranic formula for dedicating a deed to the god of the Koran. While it would be so in any language, it is normally spoken in the Arabic of the Koran to underline the message and it’s “power”.

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    @SalvatorePadula

    Sisyphus- you’re absolutely correct, I actually thought of that exception immediately after my post, but how does it change the point to have the translation from Arabic instead of Turkish? I’m still not sure how its obfuscation.

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    @SalvatorePadula

    ctlaw- my reply is the same as to Sisyphus. Where is the obfuscation?

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    @JamesGawron
    Monty Adams: I find it interesting that Claire is so disgusted with the west and all the people outside of Turkey for letting this happen, and that she chides the west for its indifference toward the real people inside of Turkey. Isn’t it in fact these real people in Turkey who are responsible for putting Erdogan and the AKP into power? Isn’t it to a large degree the pathologies inherent to the Islamic faith that make it so easy for authoritarianism to take root? Rage against the west all you want Claire, but know there’s a certain whiff of self-loathing in your writing because the people you should be really mad at, and the people who should really feel terrible about the eyeless youths are the fellow muslims and fellow Turks who’ve done this to themselves, not anyone in the west. 

    Monty,

    If we have relations with a stable government or the revolutionary group we are at fault, if we give them aid or we avoid contact we are at fault.  A tautology we are always at fault.

    When they deal with their own tyrannical xenophobic culture then things will change.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #21
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    @SgtDad

    Gloria in excelsis Deo?

    • #22
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    @SgtDad

    Monty –I don’t think Ms. Berlinski disagrees with you. If you read what she has written elsewhere about Turkey, you will see that she understands that the Turks did this to themselves, though they were duped by Erodogan as well.The point she is making here is that America needs to stand up for liberty & consensual goverment. Erdogan is robbing Turkey of that. The US ambassador should speak the truth clearly & the US President should not make nice with a tyrant. They had no trouble forcing Mubarak & Ghadafy out, why not Erdogan?

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @ctlaw

    Salvatore,

    “Allahu Akbar” does not need translation. Indeed, just as a proper name should not be translated, one should not translate it. That is why its users say it in Arabic even when otherwise speaking in languages other than Arabic.

    Translating is obfuscating because it turns a phrase that has very clear context and says something specific about its user into something less clear and specific. It’s pernicious because it creates false association/parallels with people who actually do say “God is Great” in English.

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MontyAdams
    SgtDad:

    The point she is making here is that America needs to stand up for liberty & consensual goverment. Erdogan is robbing Turkey of that. The US ambassador should speak the truth clearly & the US President should not make nice with a tyrant. They had no trouble forcing Mubarak & Ghadafy out, why not Erdogan?

    I don’t think it’s as simple as that. First of all, I don’t think Ergogan cares what our president or ambassadors say or think. I also don’t think we have the option of imposing crippling sanctions or trying to motivate yet another military coup to impose a secular dictatorship. The source and solution to this problem is the Turkish public and the faith that is at the center of their culture. No amount of clear-eyed journalism nor public condemnation nor even diplomatic pressure is going to change that. One only need look at how well all of those tactics have worked for the US when it comes to other muslim countries to understand that.

    • #25
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    @CaseyTaylor
    Salvatore Padula: Casey- thank you for making clear the point that I’ve been alluding to. · 21 minutes ago

    Thank you, Sal.  Sometimes Barney-level works best.

    • #26
  27. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CaseyTaylor
    Monty Adams

    First of all, I don’t think Ergogan cares what our president or ambassadors say or think. I also don’t think we have the option of imposing crippling sanctions or trying to motivate yet another military coup to impose a secular dictatorship. The source and solution to this problem is the Turkish public and the faith that is at the center of their culture. No amount of clear-eyed journalism nor public condemnation nor even diplomatic pressure is going to change that. One only need look at how well all of those tactics have worked for the US when it comes to other muslim countries to understand that.

    It’s not about Ergogan, it’s about the citizens.  We don’t need to do anything like imposing sanctions or inciting a coup.  We do need to at least speak like we stand for representative government and freedom.  Think about how we (rightly) condemned Obama for not voicing support for the Green Revolution a few years ago.  If the Germans – the Germans!  Turkey’s most important partner! – can do it, we certainly can.  Words are cheap, but we cheapen ourselves when we’re afraid to even use them.

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    @MontyAdams

    Stamping your feet or crying in your hands because people aren’t making enough symbolic and futile gestures seems like misplaced energy.

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    @KingBanaian

    I don’t know if Claire is aware of their writing, but Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson in Why Nations Fail had several long pieces on Turkey.  Their blog has some extensions in light of the current troubles.  Here’s just one excerpt:

    It is first important to understand that the polarization we are witnessing in Turkey has historical roots.

    As we argued in this post, the history of the Turkish Republic has been largely shaped by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s project of state and elite control over society, spearheaded by the military, state bureaucracy and the Republican People’s Party, the CHP.

    This project did transform and modernize Turkish society, in the process building state institutions and starting industrialization, albeit in quite a distorted fashion. But it also polarized Turkish society between elites and non-elites.

    …many supporters and probably many of the leaders of the AKP came to view themselves as locked in an existential struggle against the remnants of the Kemalist elites, especially the military and parts of the judiciary. It is reasonable to interpret their actions, especially after solidifying their hold on power in late 2000s, as being determined by this perceived struggle.

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    @KingBanaian

    (con’t) Thus I do not see this as unusual.  The country has never had the kind of inclusion that creates lasting democracies.  Many countries can have the fixtures of voting; the worst of countries have markets somewhere, sometimes in hiding, but you can scarcely stop that natural human tendency.  This was one group of autocrats replacing another in 1920, and now a third wishes to replace the remainder of the second.  As Claire has pointed out, AKP has moved one big part of the second group — the military — to the sidelines.  Now they have the excuse to do the rest of it.

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