Tag: Erdogan

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I guess by now everyone knows about Turkey converting the Hagia Sophia — the great Church of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Istanbul — to a mosque. First, let me say that Turkey has every right to do what it wants with its holdings. If it wants to convert the great church to a mosque, they […]

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…from a museum back into a mosque.  At the order, obviously, of Turkey’s Islamist dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal was written by a professor of Islamic history at the University of Oxford. For the record, he understands why this is being done, but doesn’t like it. Preview Open

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As the impeachment drama kicks off, Jim and Greg nearly injure themselves rolling their eyes as a longtime Republican aide who is pro-impeachment suggests allowing a secret ballot vote in the Senate to improve the odds of President Trump being removed from office.  They also slam Trump for warmly welcoming Turkish President Erdogan despite his atrocities towards the Kurds and other antagonism towards the U.S.  And they cringe a bit when looking at numbers suggesting Democrats might have a chance at winning Georgia this year, although they do find a deeply satisfying silver lining.

Jim Geraghty and Gregory Knapp of National Review discuss the impact of the Istanbul mayoral results on Recep Erdoğan, President of Turkey, and his party. They cover the entrance of Joe Sestak, former congressman from Pennsylvania, into the Democratic presidential primary. And they discuss the emerging rivalries between fans of different Founding Fathers in response to Alexander Hamilton’s exploding popularity.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner pleading guilty to sending obscene material to a minor and discuss how his character might have played a key role in the final days of the 2016 campaign.  They also discuss the ugly beating of Kurdish protesters by the security for Turkish President Erdogan this week in Washington.  And they scratch their heads over why Joe Lieberman is at the top of any list to lead the FBI.

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This Sunday, Turkish people all over the world will be voting, whether to change the country’s constitution to allow its budding dictator, Mr. Erdogan, to extend his term in office, and his powers.  It suddenly occurred to me that this Sunday just happens to be Easter Sunday.  My question is, is the timing of this […]

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The Plot: A Report from Turkey


OkanI’ll post links soon to a few pieces I’ve written about the failed putsch in Turkey. Meanwhile, here’s an update from my friend and colleague Okan, who was interviewed recently by an Iranian journalist, Sajjad Moosavi. Okan kindly gave me permission to reproduce an English-language version of that interview.

Q: Who is Fethullah Gülen and what should we know about him?

A: Fethullah Gülen is essentially an Islamist preacher wrapped in a “moderate Islam” package for human consumption. I say “Islamist” and not “Muslim” because as with many others, such as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gülen’s mission in life is all about using religion to attain wealth and power with the ultimate goal of political dominance. Whether he’s assisted by international actors is a matter that should be investigated; however, it’s clear that the Gülenists partnered with Erdoğan to change the course of the Turkish Republic from a modern, secular direction to one that exploits religion to cling endlessly to power. Claire wrote two pieces about Gülen in which you can find excellent information: Who is Fethullah Gülen and Turkey’s Two Thugs.

On Populism


logoWhat’s your definition of “Populism?”

As Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell, editors of Twenty-First Century Populism, suggest, “Much like Dylan Thomas’s definition of an alcoholic as ‘someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you’, the epithet ‘populist’ is often used in public debate to denigrate statements and measures by parties and politicians which commentators or other politicians oppose.”

But they go on to try to formulate a more rigorous definition. Their research focuses on Europe. It was conducted well before anyone could have dreamt of the rise of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders; it even antedates Obama’s rise to power:

Dreaming of Richard Nixon


richard_nixon_fighting_a_saber_tooth_tiger_by_sharpwriter-d6bln06I dreamt last night of my childhood.  Richard Nixon loomed large. 

Watergate is my first explicitly political memory.  I was five years old, and that summer my parents rented a huge house in Vermont.  Or huge it seemed to me at the age of five: I imagine that were I to go back now, it would seem much reduced in size, as everything does when revisited in adulthood.  It couldn’t have been that big; my father was an academic and my mother was a musician; there’s no way they could have afforded to rent a house as big as Buckingham Palace.  But, to my five-year-old eyes, that’s how it looked. 

I was too young to understand the significance of what was happening, but I remember the mood and the urgency: no matter what we were doing, we had to rush back to be in front of the television for the evening news.  For those of you too young to remember, “the news” happened at 6 p.m.  You had three options: ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, or CBS Evening News.  Every American watched one of those shows, and they were essentially indistinguishable in ideological perspective: I suspect we were a much more unified nation for it.  Anyway, you either caught the news at 6 o’clock or you missed everything.  For the saplings among us, this is what television looked like back then:

Erdoğan: the Putin of Turkey


ErdoganAs some of you may know, I was a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs from 1984-86 and was based in Istanbul. I learned to speak the Turkish language adequately (but never, alas, quite fluently), and I traveled far and wide in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus in those years. Between 1986 and 1992, I returned every couple of years for a month, and I went back again in 1998 and 2002. I once knew the country well.

I mention all of this because, in the last few days, I have made brief forays into Istanbul, the region south of Izmir, and the region of Antalya and Alanya on the south coast. I left Jerusalem on 27 July; flew to New York, Detroit, and Portland, Maine; spent one night at my wife’s parents’ home in Whitefield, Maine; and flew on the 28th from Boston to Istanbul via Amsterdam. There my wife and I boarded the Regent Seven Seas Mariner and I took up duties as a shipboard lecturer on a Hillsdale College cruise. If this itinerary seems mad, it is because it really is mad. I was not invited to take up these responsibilities until 17 July when I was already in Jerusalem about to start my teaching stint at Shalem College; and, given the troubles at Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv, the itinerary I followed was the way to go.

But enough about me. What is interesting is the manner in which Turkey has changed. I first visited Kusadasi on Turkey’s west coast in 1973. At that time, it was a fishing village. Cruise ships docked there so that those in attendance could visit Ephesus. But the village was nothing. It boasted one hotel, and that hotel, in which I stayed, was a dive. There were no paved streets.