Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Turkey of a Coup

A lot of words have already been said in the past few days about the Turkish coup that couldn’t fly, but strangely enough some rather obvious things went unmentioned, so I’ll try to fill in a few gaps. Specifically, a lot of the things that have been said range from feeble-minded to utterly preposterous. If this is propaganda, then it sounds like very bad, weak propaganda. Still, there is no shortage of people endlessly repeating these talking points, whether because they get paid to or because they don’t know better. They are the ones I want to address.

Idiotic Theory #1: Erdoǧan staged his own coup in order to consolidate his power.

Prior to the putsch, Erdoǧan went on vacation, which is traditionally the best time to overthrow a leader. For example, Gorbachev’s tenure as “president” of USSR was ended by a putsch in August 1991 while he was on vacation. People who are busy staging a putsch to consolidate their power don’t go on vacations; they are too busy plotting and orchestrating.

Erdoǧan attempted to fly back, only to find that he couldn’t land at İstanbul Atatürk, then found himself chased by hostile F-16s. According to social networks then flew toward Europe and requested political asylum in Germany, which was refused (although this part of the story looks like typical psych-ops). At some point it dawned on him that most of the army and virtually all of the people in Turkey were on his side, and so he called upon them to take to the streets in defense of the legitimate government. He did this using an improvised public communications technique that was almost a mockery of itself: his face on a cell phone held in front of a television camera. What followed wasn’t some peaceful, timid demonstration in support of the status quo but gonzo political action, complete with civilians laying down in front of tanks and getting crushed, followed by other civilians jumping on top of tanks and slitting the drivers’ throats. The putsch crumbled.

The optics of all of this are hard to misread. He went on vacation; he tried to flee; he begged his people for help over a cell phone. He ended up looking like a very weak and confused leader in a region where leaders either look strong or they don’t stay leaders for long. Do you still think that he planned all this? I don't.

Idiotic Theory #2: Erdogan is wildly unpredictable and crazy.

No, the poor fellow just made a lot of mistakes. The modern world is very complicated, and he is just a national politician, not some geopolitical genius extraordinaire. He tried to work with the EU. Then, when Brexit happened, he realized that the EU is now a dead union walking. He tried to work with NATO; then he realized that NATO is a suicide pact that’s trying to provoke a suicidal war with Russia, with Turkey the inevitable loser. Here’s a really simple alternative theory: maybe he was just doing his best, which hasn’t been very good.

There is plenty more evidence of that. Erdoǧan has played all of his cards wrong:

• He did not stand in the way of the US and others supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria, a.k.a. Al Nusra, allowing Turkey to serve as a conduit for stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil which ISIS exported to Israel and elsewhere, and allowing weapons and jihadists to flow the other way. He also allowed his own son to profit from this shady business. Enriching your enemy is generally a bad plan.

• He did not hinder those who organized the European “refugee” crisis (George Soros et al.) only to realize, after several horrible terrorist attacks, that he had allowed thousands of terrorists to infiltrate Turkey just like they did the EU. Trying to curry favor with the EU (with the idea of joining it) while at the same time helping to undermine it by flooding it with terrorists, and destabilizing your own country in the process, was also a bad plan.

• He responded in exactly the wrong way to the unprovoked NATO shoot-down of a Russian plane over Syria, which resulted in painful Russian sanctions against Turkish agricultural exports, construction companies and tourist industry. Then he realized that he had made a bad mistake, made a sudden about-face and apologized to Russia. But by then he had squandered much of the hard-won good will of the Russian people. (Russia and Turkey had fought many wars, and Russians, like elephants, never forget.) Wrecking relations with a neighboring country, on which your country depends to keep your people employed and the lights on, is a very bad plan indeed.

All of this also made him look very, very weak.

On the other hand, the Turks are a strong people. Their army—at least the part of it that staged the coup—is a… NATO army, good at taking their uniforms off in public and running away (see photo), but the Turkish people can apparently handle the situation on their own. They clearly did not want to end up living under a pro-Western military dictatorship, like Egypt. Do you notice how little news there is coming from Egypt, in spite of all the terrible human rights abuses taking place there? That is because Egypt has been back under Western control ever since the democratically elected Moslem Brotherhood had been overthrown by the military. It doesn’t matter to the West that Egypt is no longer a democracy, or that human rights have pretty much gone missing there.

But this does seem to matter a great deal to the Turks! The only part of this that has been hard to predict is how long it would take Erdoǧan to actually understand what’s happening and to start responding adequately to the demands of the situation.

Idiotic Theory #3: Erdoǧan is a “new Hitler”

First, see above; Erdoǧan is weak. (Was Hitler weak?) But in spite of being weak, and in spite of making a lot of tactical errors, he is a popular leader pursing a correct overall strategy. He has taken the country in the direction in which the wind is blowing throughout much of the world anyway—away from failed Western liberal stage-managed democracy and toward resurgent populist conservative authoritarianism à la Moslem Brotherhood, or United Russia, or the National Front in France, or Donald Trump in the US, or any of the other popular movements that are poised to be voted into power in many parts of the world over the coming years. What Turkey needs in order to fight off the mutually supportive combination of Moslem Extremists and Globalizing Corporatists (ME+GC) is a stronger leader, not a weaker one.

Second, when various mouthpieces in the West start calling somebody “Hitler”—watch out for “regime change”! But their regime change machine seems to have stopped working a while ago. They tried it on Putin; that fizzled. They tried it on the Ukraine; that’s the last time it worked. They’ve been trying it on Assad for five years; he is still there. Now they are going to try it on poor embattled Erdoǧan? Let’s hope it doesn’t work on him either. The US and NATO had a good long run destroying one country after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen—but there’s hope that this wave of destruction is finally over. Let us hope that they do not succeed in turning Turkey into a failed state along with all the others.

Third, the stated reason for calling Erdoǧan terrible names is that he is antidemocratic. Here, a couple of observations are in order. Lack of democracy is never a problem as far as the West is concerned: look at Egypt. If the people insist on electing someone the West doesn’t like—forget about democracy! Live under a military dictatorship until you have learned your lesson! Then, have you noticed just how badly Western-style representative democracy tends to function in ancient, tribal societies throughout the Middle East? Well, it turns out that democracy doesn’t work in these societies, and that popular authoritarianism is a much better way to go—unless what you want to produce is a failed state and a refugee crisis.

Erdoǧan is no Hitler. He may not seem like the most fabulous national leader ever, but if you look around, he actually doesn't look that bad in comparison. Look at the US, whose Black President has driven blacks to start assassinating policemen. Or look at Greece, which went from the birthplace of democracy to the deathplace of democracy in one easy referendum followed by instant capitulation. Or France, with its François “get used to terrorism” Hollande who pays thousands of euros a week just to keep his balls shaven. Or Brexitania, which dumped PM Fooked-A-Pig only to replace him with dug-up Margaret Thatcher. And then there's the Ukraine, with its alcoholic president Porky, parliamentary crotch-grabbing maneuvers and a Speaker who needs a speech therapist... No, Erdoǧan is looking pretty good, actually. Be happy, Turks, you got a winner!

* * *

Since its founding as a modern nation-state on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has remained at a crossroads between the east and the west. In recent decades, while the European project was showing some promise, Turkey looked west; now that the European project is in shambles, it is time for it to face east again. The idea of Turkey’s ascension to the EU is dead already. Now what Turkey needs to do is to extricate itself from the ridiculous, incompetent suicide pact that is NATO and make new security arrangements within a broader Eurasian context. (John Kerry recently said something about kicking Turkey out of NATO for being antidemocratic; that sounds very much like “You can’t fire me; I quit!”)

Then Turkey has to deal with the nasty contingent variously known as Wahhabists, Salafists, Takfiris and Jihadists. (If you don’t know who they are, you can call them “Moslem Extremists” (ME) but don’t just call them “Moslems” or you’ll sound ignorant.) And then of course there are the Globalizing Corporatists (GC), who are always looking for opportunities to dismember a country by “privatizing” it and carting it off piece by piece, and who have to be kept at bay until their global financial scheme finally blows up. ME+GC is a nasty combination, and this will not be an easy task. I hope that the Turks are up to it.


koen said...

I'd like to thank you for the articles on your blog about the refugees back in 2015. ("Welcome, Aliens", "An Exit Strategy for Traitors"). The articles were prophetic. It's also an example of a topic where politically correct discussion is meaningless.

A politically correct discussion about refugees and immigration is like a Victorian lady seeing a doctor for diarrhea and getting a prescription for eye drops, because a young lady doesn't use those words.

Unknown said...

Mr. Orlov,

I agree on part of your analysis. Where you are dead wrong, IMO, is when you see Erdogan as not a Muslim Extremist.

He is, and the laws he introduced into Turkey, and his clear and direct complicity with the ISIS and Saudi Arabia (not only an occasional enrichment for his son, but systematic logistical support, AS THE RUSSIAN DEMOSTRATED), shows it.

He is destroing the good part of the western culture that Ataturk introduced in the country: the illuministic rational secularism, and dragging Turkey back in a Muslim Dark Age.

Remember: if, as it is, corporative globalization is bad, theocratic rule is far far worse... :-(

BTW: If you hadn't read it, I suggest to you a dark, but, IMO, realist novel on our future: "The War After Armageddon" by Ralph Peters ( https://www.fantasticfiction.com/p/ralph-peters/war-after-armageddon.htm )


Mister Roboto said...

According to this account of the coup in the online news-magazine The Daily Beast, the coup was a pretty major battle and came within a hair's breadth of succeeding. If it weren't for the quick thinking of the pilots of Erdogan's plane, the Turkish president may well have been assassinated in the skies over his country.

It may be that Erdogan had a ready-to-go list of people in key positions to arrest, but the purge currently underway probably would have been initiated under some other pretext in the near future had the coup never happened. After all, as our blog-host has pointed out, Erdogan is in the process of converting Turkey from a civil-libertarian constitutional republic into a more strongman-oriented nation-state.

Patrick DeBoard said...

Maybe your best bit of blather ever, Dmitry. Now on to the boat...

Walter said...

So executing the "plotters" prevents Turkey from joining the EU. Erdogan saves face.

Ronald Langereis said...

Maybe it's time for modern, Turkish women to pull a Lysistrata.

Roger said...

The Global Corporatist financial system will come crashing down riddled as it is by illogic and contradiction. The GC economic agenda won't work and can't work no matter what funny business central banks get up to.

The GC agenda can't work because the GC needs large and prosperous middle classes to buy the products that GC owned industries produce. But the policy of the GC is to destroy middle class buying power via offshoring to slave-wage countries. Of course, anyone can see that the policy of impoverishment by way of wage suppression is is in direct contradiction to the need for prosperous clients. The GC cannot seem to get his head around around this central fact.

The GC agenda is also to undermine the very nation states that the GC needs to defend GC interests. For example, the GC ignores national borders. The GC sees national borders as impediments to the movement of impoverished migratory labor and to the GC's own interests. In addition, the GC doesn't want to pay taxes to the nation state. But a populace impoverished by GC policies doesn't pay taxes either. So who is supposed to pay for the legal system and police and military to defend GC property rights and to provide for physical security?

The GC agenda leads inevitably towards politically and economically unstable countries whose capacities to provide what the GC needs is severely impaired or non-existent. First comes political upheaval (ie Bernie, Trump, Brexit, nationalist movements), and then, if the GC doesn't smell the coffee, open revolt. None of this is good for GC interests.

Wile E Coyote style, the GC busily saws at the tree branch that supports him. No point trying to reason with the GC. They may have certain qualities that get them to the top of the business pyramid. But these people are not the intellectual A-Team. Not by any stretch. In university, the A-Team studies mathematics and medicine and the hard sciences. The B-Team goes into business and become Global Corporatists.

seraphim said...

A question is nagging me. Was not the Istanbul Airport already occupied by the Army after the terrorist attack? Presumably loyal troops?

Roger said...

You are correct, Muslim Extremists and Globalizing Corporatists are two nasty phenomena to have to deal with.

To deal with the first there needs to be a consensus among Turks as to who they are and what they want to be. What model of society do they have to counter that of the Muslim Extremist?

For example, where do they sit on the spectrum of secular vs religious? The more secular want things arranged one way, the more religious want things another way. Where do they sit with respect to the role of women and men in society? How do they view the charging of interest? What about religious minorities, what about ethnic minorities? Many such questions, some explicitly religious, others not so much. Is there any consensus on these issues?

With respect to the Globalizing Corporatist, the most necessary thing is to shake off the notion, so prevalent on this side of the pond, that there is no alternative to so-called "globalization".

The Oligarch class love the word "globalization", it's one of those terms that envelopes their agenda in a fog bank of deceit and misdirection. If I say "globalization" what does it mean? The free movement of people? Erasure of borders to human migration is presented as the victory against the small-minded and violent nativist. Never mind that it also serves to pound down wages. If I say "free trade", what does it mean? The GC will present this as the triumph of economic efficiency, that unleashing of transnational entrepreneurial energies that lifts all boats. Never mind that it resulted in the off shoring of thousands of factories to despotic slave-wage regimes and the elimination of millions of decent paying livelihoods.

I think it's fair to say that political elites of all stripes, at least on this side of the world, embrace the GC view of things. I mean, what would we expect, politicians nowadays make no bones about being bought and paid for. The 150 million paid to Bill and Hillary is the example to all ambitious politicians, do what is expected and you too can have some extremely rich pay days.

It's not just the fog machines of GC propagandists. There's also that most potent of all human tendencies, the desire to have your fellows think well of you, to go along and to get along. To say that globalization gutted western economies, to say that it ruined the prospects of millions of people, to shiver the timbers of political elites, is a very difficult thing. It can be a very career limiting move. It goes against elite consensus, it calls BS on the go-along-to-get-along types, people that you might otherwise rub shoulders with. The GC side will paint dissenters as fearful, racist, xenophobe, ignoramuses unable to keep up with the tide of events.

Will the Turks have it in them? I think that the Turks won't have so much difficulty shooing away the Globalizing Corporatist. The GC may have money in order to bribe people but they don't have an economic or rational or moral case. As far as the The Muslim Extremist goes, I'm not so sure. I think the ME will work to take advantage of divisions in Turkish society.

Jef Jelten said...

GCs do not need a functioning middle class any longer. They know damn well that that ship has sailed. We are in the cannibalistic stage of GC and this can go on for some time due to various reasons that our esteemed host here at the "Club" has pointed out for years.

It is amazing to me how everyone accepts "Muslim Extremist" as the issue and can't or won't admit that US empire is the global issue at hand not Islam.

Roger said...

Jef, no doubt, American economic and military power combined with mind boggling incompetence connects a lot of dots. But not all of them. I say this because, just to take one example, the Islamic world with its myriad peoples and cultures is not exactly what I'd call helpless. I would venture that for 1100 of the 1400 years of Muslim existence that Muslim civilizations had the western world back on its heels. Very tough people and adversaries they were. And still are. The old societies now encompassing the Muslim world may have fallen behind Europe and the West economically and technologically but I wouldn't discount their belligerent energies which would exist with or without Americans.

What we see in the world may be a direct result of US mucking about but only in part. Americans comprise a small percentage of the world population and are relative newcomers on the global stage. In consequence I would say that the shape of the world is mostly a product of much older societies and societal forces that have been festering for much longer than America has been around. For example, ten thousand years ago in the Middle East the city of Jericho had stone walls and forty foot guard towers or so I've read. That's a very deep civilizational layer cake in those parts.

American Oligarchs aren't the only Oligarchs. Americans aren't the only ones with covetous eyes on their neighbor's land and resources or the only ones with imperial ambitions. There are power centers besides Washington and elites besides the one in New York City with economic and political power bases of their own. America may have a large, high-tech, mechanized and airborne military but, as we've seen, it's been whupped by men riding donkeys more than once.

That's not to totally discount American influence for good and ill. But I would hesitate to attribute too much to it. It would deny agency to others who should be assigned their fair share credit and blame, Muslim Extremists included.

rd said...

The pressing question is who really did this coup?

Increasingly, it is looking like you-know-who was involved: the United States of America.

Given America's almost pathological drive to impose regime change on enemy states and vassal ...sorry.... democratic 'allies' alike, this is not surprising.

It appears that Turkey's turn away from America towards Russia, Iran, Syria, and Eurasia in general is what drove the USA to launch this desperate attempt to keep Turkey within its grasp. In addition, American machinations to carve out a de facto Kurdish state in the region was a major outrage for Turkey.

If Turkey were to stop faciliating American arming and support of its beloved moderate terrorists and head-choppers in Syria and close the Syrian-Turkish border, it would be a major blow to this American-led terror war that has killed tens of thousands of Syrians and turned hundreds of thousands more into refugees.

Indeed, a related issue that many people are loathe to address is what has been the precipating cause for so many Muslim/Arab refugees arriving in Europe.

Again, one has only to look at Land of the Free.

America's wars throughout the greater Middle East have destabilized and devastated multiple nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, among others. These US wars have compelled many citizens of these war-ravaged nations to flee ... towards Europe.

Of course, mentioning this issue is Politically Incorrect as it open up a Pandora's Box of other issues that many Americans, and their apologists,would rather censor, minimize, deflect, or spindoctor away.

These USA wars are the crime of the century.

Such is the American Empire of Chaos.

Behind The CIA Desperate Turkey Coup Attempt

Post-Coup Turkey Will Be Distinctly Eurasian

The Sultan of (Emergency) Swing

kem.erd said...

This is the most accurate assessment of the coup made outside Turkey. It is even more remarkable that it was made just few days after the event. Most of the western sources, even socialist ones, fall back to cliches, that has been carefully developed and peddled over the years by Turkish 5th column most of which pretend to be left liberals, to make sense of what has happened.