Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oh Danny Boy, The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling...For A Military Takeover Of A Democratically Elected Government

Daniel Pipes, spends his life dreaming up new excuses to kill men, women and children indiscriminately by constantly promoting war, has found some more violence he can get down with.

The arrest and indictment of top military figures in Turkey last week precipitated potentially the most severe crisis since Atatürk founded the republic in 1923. The weeks ahead will probably indicate whether the country continues its slide toward Islamism or reverts to its traditional secularism. The denouement has major implications for Muslims everywhere.
It certainly does. Those who hate Muslims, and don't believe that they should be allowed to run governments, will be enraged, and probably call for some killings. People like Daniel Pipes.
Turkey's military has long been both the state's most trusted institution and the guarantor of Atatürk's legacy, especially his laicism. Devotion to the founder is not some dry abstraction but a very real and central part of a Turkish officer's life; as journalist Mehmet Ali Birand has documented, cadet-officers hardly go an hour without hearing Atatürk's name invoked.
I don't know about you, but this military sounds sort of like a cult. It reminds me of the North Korean military is devote to Kim Jong Il. But this doesn't seem to faze Pipes.
On four occasions between 1960 and 1997, the military intervened to repair a political process gone awry. On the last of these occasions, it forced the Islamist government of Necmettin Erbakan out of power. 
So now I really don't like this military. I don't know how Pipes feels, but I don't like the idea of any country's army moving in and deposing a democratically elected government. It's undemocratic, you see.
Chastened by this experience, some of Erbakan's staff re-organized themselves as the more cautious Justice and Development Party (AKP). In Turkey's decisive election of 2002, they surged ahead of discredited and fragmented centrist parties with a plurality of 34 percent of the popular vote.

Parliamentary rules then transformed that plurality into a 66 percent supermajority of assembly seats and a rare case of single-party rule. Not only did the AKP skillfully take advantage of its opportunity to lay the foundations of an Islamic order but no other party or leader emerged to challenge it. As a result, the AKP increased its portion of the vote in the 2007 elections to a resounding 47 percent, with control over 62 percent of parliamentary seats.
That's a pretty impressive vote total in a country with multiple parties. It kind of sounds like they were the people's choice.
Repeated AKP electoral successes encouraged it to drop its earlier caution and to hasten moving the country toward its dream of an Islamic Republic of Turkey. 
Turkey is 98% Muslim. We probably shouldn't be too surprised if they choose to live in an Islamic Republic.
The party placed partisans in the presidency and the judiciary while seizing increased control of the educational, business, media, and other leading institutions. It even challenged the secularists' hold over what Turks call the "deep state" – the non-elected institutions of the intelligence agencies, security services, and the judiciary. 
This, of course, is exactly what any political party with widespread public support would do. Remember how the Republicans tried to get McCain elected? Remember how they nominated right-wing justices to the Supreme Court and the federal courts? How about when they installed a Republican Education Secretary, let the banks buy the the Treasury Department, entered into a full-spin zone with Fox News, and basically took over the country for most of the last decade. I didn't like it, but I wasn't about to call up General Patraeus and have him develop battle plans for the Capitol.
Only the military, ultimate arbiter of the country's direction, remained beyond AKP control.
Why is the military the ultimate arbiter of the country's direction? Is this something to strive for? Military dictatorships? It sounds like it is, in Daniel Pipes' world.
Several factors then prompted the AKP to confront the military: European Union accession demands for civilian control over the military...
Those crazy Europeans. They have this strange aversion to out-of-control armed forces. Maybe they remember this, or this, or this.

2008 court case that came close to shutting down the AKP; and the growing assertiveness of its Islamist ally, the Fethullah Gülen Movement. An erosion in AKP popularity (from 47 percent in 2007 to 29 percent now) added a sense of urgency to this confrontation, for it points to the end of one-party AKP rule in the next elections.
Well, that sounds like the Turkish people are working this out in a non-violent, democratic fashion. Good for them.
The AKP devised an elaborate conspiracy theory in 2007, dubbed Ergenekon, to arrest about two hundred AKP critics,including military officers, under accusation of plotting to overthrow the elected government. The military responded passively, so the AKP raised the stakes on Jan. 22 by concocting a second conspiracy theory, this one termed Balyoz ("Sledgehammer") and exclusively directed against the military.
Why would these conspiracy theories appeal to people? Why might they even be true? Could it be because the Turkish military has overthrown the civilian government four times since 1960?
The military denied any illegal activities and the chief of general staff, İlker Başbuğ, warned that "Our patience has a limit." Nonetheless, the government proceeded, starting on Feb. 22, to arrest 67 active and retired military officers, including former heads of the air force and navy. So far, 35 officers have been indicted.
Ok, well I guess they'll have trials. They'll probably be given lawyers, since this is Turkey and not the United States, and then they'll have a verdict and so forth. Why is this any of our business?

Thus has the AKP thrown down the gauntlet, leaving the military leadership basically with two unattractive options: (1) continue selectively to acquiesce to the AKP and hope that fair elections by 2011 will terminate and reverse this process; or (2) stage a coup d'état, risking voter backlash and increased Islamist electoral strength.
So they could respect the democratically elected government, or they could go in with guns and take over the country. As a man who believes in exporting democracy, even at the point of a bayonet if necessary, one would think that Pipes would want the Turkish military to butt out.
Turkey's Islamic importance suggests that the outcome of this crisis has consequences for Muslims everywhere. AKP domination of the military means Islamists control the umma's most powerful secular institution, proving that, for the moment, they are unstoppable. But if the military retains its independence, Atatürk's vision will remain alive in Turkey and offer Muslims worldwide an alternative to the Islamist juggernaut.
Given that Pipes has already said that there are only two options, it's pretty clear he's calling for the coup. 

I guess democracy is great, but what's even better is making sure that Muslims don't get to run governments. And if people and democracies need to die to fulfill Pipes' racist and fear-driven vision, too bad.

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