Will the Turkish Army Act?

Sunday, April 29, 2007
The recent Turkish elections provide an excellent example of mob rule democracy being subverted (or simply used as a tool) by islamists intent upon returning Turkey to the halcyon days of yore when every man knew his place (and if his place was at the bottom - well, he could always beat his wife with impunity).

The polite fiction of democracy has been upheld by the autocrats running the Turkish army since the days of Ataturk, whose own success was based upon military rather than political prowess. After the ethnic cleansing (which came very close to genocide) of the Armenian Christians in Turkey, Ataturk was able to use the gentle art of persuasion by sword and bayonet to convince the clerics (those whom survived) that safety was only to be found outside of government - no matter what the Koran says. In order to insure that this understanding was passed on to their sucessors, Ataturk made sure that the schools which turned out the sucessor generations were controlled by the 'government' and that the theology taught was properly shaped to encompass secularism.

The system worked very well for seventy-five years, the people got to vote, the generals got to rule and the clerics got to live. Over the past ten-fifteen years the islamists have made inroads - actual islamic theology is being taught and the imams have been preaching about the wondrous, idyllic life that can be achieved through submission. While Turks are somewhat smarter than Arabs, they're not that much smarter and so a mob majority has voted themselves back under the heel of religious tyranny. True 'democracy' in action.

Turkey does have the largest secular movement in the ME. It is making its voice heard but it is definitely a minority voice. To whom will the army listen? More importantly, if the army acts in time honored fashion and slaughters the imams fomenting a return to darkness, which side should the West support?

Mob rule or a 'modernity' maintained by force?


terrye said...

I know this is a silly suggestio, but why don't wait and see what happens, hopefully it won't come to that.

Needless to say I am supposed to say I support whichever side kills the most Muslims but I think I might hold out hope that we don't have to kill all 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet.

Rick Ballard said...

The Scarlett O'Hara approach will always get one through whatever happens to them 'tomorrow' - until, of course, it doesn't.

It's going to be amusing to hear the doubletalk that ensues, no matter the outcome. Mob rule in favor of theocracy or military autocracy - what a great choice.

terrye said...

Well fiddle dee dee. You are right rick, it will be a real hoot, especially if lots of people die.

Ataturk dragged the Empire kicking and screaming into the modern world and obviously force alone was not enough to make it stick.

I hope the voices of moderation and democracy prevail obviously, but that does not mean I hope for civil war in Turkey. I think you are leaving out a couple of choices here.

Habu said...

No one does commentary better than Mark Steyn.

This week, both the House and the Senate voted for defeat in Iraq. That's to say, Congress got tired of waiting for deadbeat insurgents to get their act together and inflict devastating military humiliation on U.S. forces. So America's legislators have voted to mandate the certainty of defeat. They want the withdrawal of American forces to begin this October, which is a faintly surreal concept: Watching CNN International around the world, many viewers unversed in America's constitutional arrangements will have been puzzled by the spectacle of a nation giving six months' notice of surrender.mmmm

Light bulbs that don't signify ideas

KimArar said...

A comment, in two parts. The first a comment on today's demonstration.

Hey, I'm posting this from Istanbul and I've just come back, having tried to attend the rally in Istanbul today. The weather was good and the parents thought it would be risky, so off I went. And didn't make it any closer than 2 km from the main rally point due to the crowds.

So this is a second-hand account, via the Turkish press. The police reported one million in attendance, rather more than the initial estimate of "tens of thousands". The BBC calls this, rather patronisingly, a demonstration by "the secular elite". Gosh. Never realised elites could be so large, nor that they all turned up at the meeting. :-P If 1 million fundies had turned up, would that have been termed "the fundamentalist elite"? :) Silly, really.

Quite a few women in headscarves too. Which is as I expected.

An interesting point about this meeting was that after the obligatory "Turkey is secular and will remain secular" slogans, the most popular was "Neither sharia nor coup". It seems that after eighty years of gestation, Turks have discovered the joy of expressive people power. :)

What is more interesting is that, of course, Turkey has become less religious over the past four years under this Islamicist government than it was before. What people are demonstrating against, I think, is not the fact that Turkey is inching towards religious
rule - which I consider to be less likely than this occurring in the US (covertly) - but that most people are tired of the ruling AKP's kneejerk reaction that headscarves are good.

Anyway, it was fun and interesting although I couldn't attend. And I think the next one will be out of Istanbul, so I'll just have to follow that on TV. Looking forward to the Constitutional Court's ruling perhaps next week on the legality of the elections.

And then, some time this year, we'll have general elections. AKP will do well - they've been excellent on the economy and the EU - but I don't see them getting as large a block of seats in the Assembly this time round. And so the taming of the Turkish Islamists will continue.

The second is a series of disjointed commnets on your post.

"The system worked very well for seventy-five years, the people got to vote, the generals got to rule and the clerics got to live." Pithy, but superficial. I'd love to be able to say that you captured the 20th century politics of a country with around a thousand years of history (in its Turkified form) but you are really missing the point.

For Turks - who realise the shortcomings of their democracy far better than you do - democracy is not an actual thing, but an aim. It's a rather less complacent attitude than that taken by the no-show American voter or the cosy arrangement in Westminster. :)

"While Turks are somewhat smarter than Arabs, they're not that much smarter and so a mob majority has voted themselves back under the heel of religious tyranny. True 'democracy' in action.'"

Tsk tsk tsk.

In responde, I misquote:
Who are you indeed who would talk or sing to Turkey? / Have you studied out the land, its idioms and men? / Have you learned the physiology, phrenology, politics, geography? / Pride, freedom, friendship of the land?

Love and kisses.

Rick Ballard said...

"Who are you indeed who would talk or sing to Turkey?"

I'm a citizen of a country that has supported, more or less, Turkey for a number of decades. Which Turkey repaid by denying passage of troops to Iraq.

Why would more than a superficial pass be worth the time?

Good luck with the mullahcracy.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


We're not over there fighting the war. It doesn't follow that we have no right to talk about it. All we are doing here is talking, but talking is important, because talking drives thinking and thinking drives policies. If you don't believe this, ask yourself how many of the Democrats running Congress today or the people who supported them have actually had any personal contact with the war. I would wager it is a fraction of 1 percent. Yet, they are in charge now, essentially mandating surrender, based on talk.

We are a democracy. We have the right and indeed the obligation as citizens to publicly these issues. You may not like what Rick is saying, but simply telling him to "wait and see what happens", i.e., to not think or write about it, is not adequate. It is an essential element of democracy that informed citizens think and publicly debate the issues of the day. That's what Rick is doing. He represents a certain point of view. The whole concept of free speech is that it is far better to air these points of view—no matter how erroneous they may turn out to be—than it is to have them suppressed.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


That is a very interesting post. I would very much appreciate your lending us more of your on-the-ground insight into Turkey.

I've read a book or two on the Ottoman empire, but I'm no expert on Turkey. I would love to learn more. However, my ignorance is not a a reason for me to be quiet. I still have to vote, debates have to be held, decisions still have to be made, ignorant or not. All I can do is continue to seek enlightenment, and your comment was a huge help in this direction. Thank you.

Rick Ballard said...

"—no matter how erroneous they may turn out to be—"

I'll have you know that I've been right every single time that I haven't been wrong.

So there.


I forgot to thank you for joining in. I do hope that Turkish democracy prevails.

I just wouldn't bet on it.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


I can neither confirm nor deny the erroneousness of your comments.

But I will defend to the death your right to say them.

Rick Ballard said...


I can do better than that - I can both confirm and deny the erroneity of every comment I make.

I would note that Gen Casey asks for the increase in authorized force levels for the Army to be expedited.

Tommy Franks looks smarter and smarter.

richard mcenroe said...

If, as Harry and Nancy insist, we have no business keeping the Sunni and Shii'a from killing each other, how can it be our place to tell the Turkish Army who to shoot?

Buddy Larsen said...

Turkey: Once & future southern bulwark, and a stout & staunch bulwark indeed, against the obsessive/compulsive expansionism of the land of the Czars.

This has been a salient fact of modern history.

Buddy Larsen said...

As far as which broad direction USA should prefer, I'd say the autocrats over the Islamists hands down. Yep, realpolitik is insufficiently principled for my taste, too, but, y'know, first, beat the people trying to kill you, then worry about principle.

That's what Lincoln, and to a lesser extent all our great presidents, have practiced.

Our more principled presidents, say, Wilson and Carter (in the modern era), where it counted most, pretty much achieved antithesis.

Rick Ballard said...


Cheer Locke, bet Hobbes is the American way. Democracy based on universal suffrage has always led to a politics of demogoguery and sophistry in the past, how is today different than yesterday?

The Turks are just compressing the arc that the US is following - scrub out the founders precepts (although they haven't done as good a job on Ataturk as the commies in our schools have done on our founders), institute universal sufferage (everyone knows that the Anatolian peasant with an IQ of 60 deserves a voice equal to anyone elses) and proceed to mobocracy (or theomobocracy in Turkey's case).

If the Army doesn't come out then Turkey is on the road to true Middle Eastern democracy, one man, one vote, one time.

This Gul fellow was the PM who couldn't quite find the votes necessary to allow us transit in '03. If he's allowed to take office then I'd paint the Turkey piece on the chessboard in Iranian colors.