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Marching for secularism in Turkey

I wish I understood Turkish politics better than I do. There was a large pro-secularism rally in Ankara, which is surely a good thing. The fact these people are backed by the army is an even more encouraging sign.

On Friday evening military chiefs said in a statement they could intervene if the election process threatened to undermine Turkish secularism.

EU politics however, I understand just fine. The usual halfwits have moaned that the Turkish army is interfering with democracy because they made it clear they will not tolerate Turkey becoming an Islamic state. Yet strangely all manner of constitutional limitations on the democratic will of the majority exist in many countries (the USA and Switzerland, for example) and yet that does not seem to attract the displeasure of the fools who live off our tax money in Brussels.

In Turkey, the army is probably the best bulwark against Islamism and the fact the same €uro-spokesmen allegedly responsible for working towards integrating Turkey with the EU want to weaken the role of the main opponent of Islamist political aspirations in the country is… astonishing.

37 comments to Marching for secularism in Turkey

  • matt

    Islamic Fascism isn’t the only brand of fascism on offer. Military intervention in civillian affairs never ends well.

    Also, if news reports are to be believed, Turkish Nationalists murdered three Christians last week.

    There are a lot of varieties of repression, and I’m in no mood to pick a favorite.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly the strength of a political version of Islam is growing in the Turkish military – the present government (and the movement it represents) have seen to that.

    The secular tradition (or rather the tradition of keeping religion a private matter) may be undermined in the military.

    The issue of who becomes the next President of Turkey is really a focus for a much wider dispute.

    As for the Islamic faith. Can it be a religion based on the personal relationship between a human being and God, as opposed to a political matter of forceing certain practices on the general population? Many in, for example, the Sufi tradition say that it can – but time will tell.

    The weakness of the secular tradition in Turkey was always that it promised Western style living standards, but did not deliver them.

    This was due to the practice of Statism (for once the actual word “Statism” was used) – with state control (both state ownership and “planning” and other regulations) helping hold back the economy. Also the practice of inflation (and it is a “practice” – inflation does not just happen, governments create it by expanind the creidit money supply) helped undermine true economic development.

    One could tell a similar story of Iran (endless promises of prosperity undermined by the very polices that were supposed to bring it about) – and I hope it will not have the same ending.

    There was a time in Turkey when it looked as if the nation had turned its back on “Statism” without falling into the clutches of political Islam (the governments of Prime Minister S.D. and so on seemed to be reforming the economy), but things did not pan out.

    One can blame the “peasants of Anitolia” if one wishes to, but the present Prime Minister is an ex Mayor of Istanbul. And if secular politics can not hold Istanbul the game is up.

    “But if we let Turkey into the E.U. the poor would become well off and the strength of political Islam would fade”.

    This assumes two things:

    Firstly that prosperity weakens political Islam – it may do, but it may not (I am not sure) – for example most of the terrorists who have attacked the West have come from well off families.

    But the above also assumes that letting Turkey would make the tens of millions of fairly poor people there prosperious – this idea is absurd.

    If the general population of Turkey is ever to become prosperious it will be because of sound economic policies, better access to E.U. markets would be nice but it only the iceing on the cake. As for E.U. aid helping Turkey – people who believe that need to read some works by the late Lord Peter Bauer.

  • Yet strangely all manner of constitutional limitations on the democratic will of the majority exist in many countries (the USA and Switzerland, for example) and yet that does not seem to attract the displeasure of the fools who live off our tax money in Brussels.

    Indeed. I don’t know whether secularism here in the US would have survived the 20th century if it had been possible to repeal the First Amendment by a simple majority.

    I’ve often thought that the army in Turkey has a role somewhat like that of the Supreme Court in the US — its duties include reversing decisions by voters or elected officials which go against the core constitutional values underpinning the state, which include secularism. To Westerners such a role for the military seems very odd, but it has kept Turkey both democratic and secular for decades, and thus has at least the virtue of success.

  • nick g.

    As someone even further from Turkey, I also don’t know enough to make truely informed comments. However, I can provide the valuable role of outsider, and let you know how things look from here. I assure you that my comments have no ANZAC bias to them.
    I have always felt that the Turkish Army has too strong a role in the political structure of Turkey. Nigeria has had the army directly ruling the country until recently, and Turkey has always seemed like the next candidate where democracy is killed off for the nation’s own good. They are stuck on the legacy of Ataturk, a bit like a piece of South America in the Middle East, where armies were used to create nations. Whilst I don’t think of democracies as the highest form of government, they are highewr than Warlord-states and Juntas.

  • Whilst I don’t think of democracies as the highest form of government, they are highewr than Warlord-states and Juntas.

    And is that still true if an Islamic regime gets itself elected by a plurality of voters? The state of Turkey (i.e. not bad actually… neither a warlord state nor a junta these days) suggests that a political military who does not intervene lightly but does remind the Islamists that there are limits to what they will tolerate is the lesser of the evils on offer (by far).

  • nick g.

    Perry, one of the great advances of the West has been the subordination of the military to the Parliament. I am always fearful that turkey will go the other way- Parliament, or government, will really be in the hands of the Armed forces, with a showcase democracy. That might be better than an Islamic state, but I keep hoping that Turkey will go all the way in its’ attempts to Westernise! Which means the armed forces will need to learn to obey the democratic system. I have the best will in the world for Turkey, not least because it can be used as a role model for other muslim countries. I hope it evolves up to that final step.

  • Altan Yörük

    As a Turkish libertarian i think the army’s intervene in politics even indirect in manner not a good thing… Turkish army officials intervened civilian politics in many times in the past. What happened then? Only limited bureaucratic people and their fans gained ground… On the other hand majority of people oriented religious faith when they acquired so less material things with on-going economic basement. If wanna stop really these tendencies behalf of Islamism we must help taking healthy ground in economic recoveries from on-going crises. Economy is a key factor… You can not construct a healthy democracy with neither poor economic indicators nor bad human rights legacies… Best regards…

  • Elijah

    Gees, since when did the means become the end eh?

  • matt

    And is that still true if an Islamic regime gets itself elected by a plurality of voters? The state of Turkey (i.e. not bad actually… neither a warlord state nor a junta these days) suggests that a political military who does not intervene lightly but does remind the Islamists that there are limits to what they will tolerate is the lesser of the evils on offer (by far).

    In the short term, I might agree, but military intervention in civillian politics is always a slippery slope with horrible long-term implications.

    Let the Turks try radical islam if they really want it. They won’t like it: nobody ever really does for long. When they tire of it, they’ll vote it out, and probably liberalize generally. This scenario might actually lead to a long-term decrease in State power, size, and intrusiveness.

    Barring that, they certainly can’t shrink the size of the government in any meaningful way with a politicized military looming over their heads.

  • guy herbert

    The record of military dictatorships in fostering individual freedom is not good. Armies are full of rigid authoritarians and they operate by violence and fear of violence.

    But the EU objections to Turkey’s military’s influence, just like those to its suppression of anti-national speech, are motivated by the desire to find pretexts to keep Turkey out of the EU not because of its dubious governmental culture, per se. It can’t be admitted, because it couldn’t be digested into the ever closer union, and would probably stop that process. If virulent nationalism were a bar, Greece would never have been allowed in.

  • Kim

    I’m Turkish, and despite having spent a considerable part of the past forty years trying to figure it out, I can’t say that I have a perfect grasp either, but this is my spin on a) the demonstration yesterday (which you don’t mention), b) the military’s role in politics and c) the economic achievements of the Turkish republic.

    A) Around a million marched yesterday in Istanbul in protest at the Government’s penchant for advancing men whose wives wore headscarves. Simple as that. Talk of fears for Turkey’s secular outlook is I think exaggerated. As evidenced by the many many women yesterday who wore headscarves at the meeting. Interestingly, pictures of them never got shown in the international press.

    B) I dislike military rule. No-one in their right mind would not. But – and this is a big but – the 1960 coup was preceded by civilian demonstrations calling for a coup, and the 1980 coup (which we all saw coming from late 1979) was greeted by relief. In the latter case, Turkey was on the verge of tearing itself apart: 50 people a day were dying in political violence, and the Assembly of the day had spent over 5 months in 115 inconclusive votes to elect a new President. In the former, the popularly elected government was taking steps to turn Turkey into a one-party state.

    The military in Turkey does not intervene unless it i) believes it has some popular support and ii) the democratic process is stalled. The second does not apply in Turkey today, as witnessed by both the exceptional meeting in Istanbul (if someone had told me that 1 million Turks would march for secularism, I’d have told them to stop kidding) and because general elections are due this year anyway.

    Since WW2, the Turkish military has held power for a total of 3.5 years. These weren’t Greek- or Latin American style “perpetual protectors”.

    Moreover, opinion polls show that after the Presidency, Turks have both i) the greatest trust and ii) the greatest respect for the Army. Therefore, yes, Turkey may be screwed-up, but you won’t see people demonstrating against the military.

    C) The economic achievements can be summarised best by electricity generation statistics. In 1923, the total installed capacity in Turkey was enough to power 2,000 electric heaters. Today, the capacity is half that of the UK. Factories? You’ve got to be kidding. Or, to put it another way: in 1923, the income of the average Turk was one-tenth that of the average Englishman. Today it is one-quarter. Given that the relative population of Turkey has increased 4-fold in that time frame, perhaps etatism isn’t as bad as you make it out to be.

    Of course, the economy could have been handled better. But be fair. The above is not a bad record.

  • Phil A

    I think Infidel753 probably has a good angle on the matter.

    Mustafa Kemal the Ataturk (Father of Turks) brought about the modern Turkish secular state. It was massively progressive compared to the Sultanate and Caliphship.

    The army sees it’s self as the guardian of the republic. How would things sit if a Christian fundamentalist were poised to take the Whitehouse and try to join church and state in contravention of the US constitution?

    If the Turkish army is just looking to protect the state from creeping fundamentalism and sharia law then is that really bad for Europe, or indeed for real democracy?

  • Paul Marks

    Headscarves and who is President are symbols, it is what they indicate (not the things-in-themselves) that are the point of conflict.

    Guy mentioned that including Turkey into the E.U. would be likely to stop the process of “intergration”. As the great majority of new regulations (according to the German government about 80%) are made in response to E.U. demands this “intergration” has gone quite some way already (although I am not saying that Guy would deny that).

    Previous “enlargement” was also supposed to stop “intergration” – it did not. And including Turkey would not either. “But the E.U. could not afford the subsidies” – accept that the supporters of the E.U. have a reply to that “this is one of the reasons that the E.U. must have its own resources” (i.e. new E.U. wide taxes – perhaps on top of “harmonization” of existing taxes). Having Turkey in the E.U. would be trotted out as a important reason why more “intergration” was needed – “we must have the resources to help the Turks, otherwise they will fall prey to the temptations of political Islam”.

    The real reason that nations like Germany wish to keep out Turkey is that even Helmut Schmidt (former Social Democrat Chancellor) now admits (rightly or wrongly) that his greatest mistake was to allow Turkish “guest workers” to bring in their familes (this meaning that the “guests” would never leave).

    Free migration rests on the assumption that immigrants and (more importantly) their children become loyal to the nations they go to, indeed become part of these nations, which some immigrants and their children do. But (rightly or wrongly) many politicians in Germany and other places (however P.C. they may be in public) fear that allowing in tens of millions of Turks (to add to the tide from North Aftica and the Middle East) would mean that we would no longer be talking about whether Western civilization would survive in Turkey – but whether it will survive in Europe.

    Of course some people (such as Mark Steyn) hold that Europe (including non E.U. Europe) is doomed anyway (for example the Germans breed so little that they would eventually exterminate themselves – even if the Muslims had not come). And will share the fate of areas as what is now Algeria (which in the time of the Romans or Byzantines was just as much part of the West as Italy).

    As for Turkey:

    In rural areas the churches (and so on) are being destroyed as I type this (and have been for many years), and the locals even deny that the ruins were churches. Also the names of villages and other places continue to be changed (a process that has also gone for many years).

    To turn to old times. I do not think that we will see the return of the oak forests (and the black pork they are supposed to have produced – from the pigs eating acorns) of Byzantine Anitolia any time soon – indeed ever.

    They may still exist “in the mind of God” – but that is about it.

  • Most proof if needed that Turkey has no business being in the EU.

  • Wild Knight

    Turkey is a very interesting case in international politics. It is a modern democracy underpinned by the military. We all recognise the dangers of either alternative to Turkish democracy – Islamic fundamentalism or Military intervention. In this respect, I wish to point out the wisdom of the American constitution in guarding its citizens the right to bear arms. Should an entity try to overthrow the US constitution, the American people is armed and ready to reclaim their country back – not the military, but the people. Exchanging an army junta for an Islamic theocracy is no solution, but surely empowering the people to overthrow dictators is entirely in keeping with the spirit of democracy.

  • Most proof if needed that Turkey has no business being in the EU.

    But then neither does the UK.

    In the short term, I might agree, but military intervention in civillian politics is always a slippery slope with horrible long-term implications.

    Yet that has not been the Turkish experience. The horrible implications of military rule were actually quite short lived and compared to the vast majority of majority Islamic countries, Turkey has actually been slowly developing in the right direction (just compare to Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria… etc.)

    Let the Turks try radical islam if they really want it. They won’t like it: nobody ever really does for long. When they tire of it, they’ll vote it out,

    Sorry but I think that is naive in the extreme. What makes you think an Islamic regime will allow itself to be voted out of office? Moreover, the damage to Turkish civil society will be horrendous in the meantime and will undo decades of progress. Defending secularism against Islamism is worth fighting for. It is worth killing for.

    Barring that, they certainly can’t shrink the size of the government in any meaningful way with a politicized military looming over their heads.

    One size does not fit all. The Turkish military ≠ the Argentine military. You might as well be saying “let people vote to remove the constitutional limits on political power in the USA, people will not like what happens and they will vote for these limits to be reimposed later”. Things generally do not work that way.

    Sure, in an ideal world, using the military to limit the ability of people to vote for tyranny is not the best way to do things. But counties have to use the tools available and imagining that in the face of a threat of Islamic government that now is the time to limit the one institution able to check that threat in Turkey seems like a fairly bad idea to me.

  • Perry: sorry I don’t have time to read the previous comments, but I just wanted to say how glad I am you posted this. Many people have come to believe that democracy is an end in itself. Nothing could be further from truth. Democracy is just a means towards a better society. Like all means, it is not always the most effective.

  • What makes you think an Islamic regime will allow itself to be voted out of office? Moreover, the damage to Turkish civil society will be horrendous in the meantime and will undo decades of progress. Defending secularism against Islamism is worth fighting for. It is worth killing for.

    This is exactly right. If the Christian Right got real power here in the US, turned non-Christians into second-class citizens, banned abortion, recriminalized homosexuality, wrecked science education, drove real science underground or overseas, etc., I have no doubt that they would be swept out of power in a decade or two (either by voting or civil war), but the suffering due to loss of individual freedom during that time, and the permanent damage to the Constitutional system, would be horrific. We’re better off with judicial oversight; the Turks are better off with military oversight, if that’s the best way to keep their system on track. As Kim points out, the Turkish military has not ruled for long periods after military coups, but only long enough to deal with the problem at hand, then gone back to the barracks. It’s not like those military regimes that use threats to order as a mere pretext to rule indefinitely.

    Many people have come to believe that democracy is an end in itself. Nothing could be further from truth. Democracy is just a means towards a better society. Like all means, it is not always the most effective.

    The only reason I support democracy (within a constitutional-republic framework) is that experience shows it is almost always the best system for maximizing personal freedom. If there were some bizarre set of circumstances where a dictatorship would genuinely protect individual freedom better than an elected government would, I’d prefer the dictatorship.

  • Infidel: certainly, although that indeed would be a very bizarre set of circumstances:-) This is not what I actually had in mind, obviously. The Turkish example is a very good one, on the other hand. Here you have a case where clearly undemocratic means (the military) is used to preserve whatever freedoms the people have. Bottom line is: whatever works best for the people.

  • RAB

    I have been to Turkey many times and I love the country and the people. But-
    Secularism is strong in major urban areas such as Istambul and the holiday resorts along the Aegean but step into the countryside and headscarfs are de rigeur.
    Secularism is only skin deep, and I get the uneasy feeling that it could be reversed, under certain circumstances, very easily.
    As Paul said, Christian churches and grave are much vandalised both in Turkey and Norther Cyprus.
    As to the Military, it should be remembered that Turkey has National Service so the whole adult male population is well disposed to the military because they have served in it.
    As to the EU. I am reluctantly of the opinion that they should not be admitted.
    The simple reason for this is that every Turk under the age of 30 I have asked the question
    “Have you ever been abroad?”
    I get a long sigh and a no.
    Would you like to? The answer is an emphatic “Oh yes!!”
    If anyone thinks there are a lot of Pole and Lithuanian immigrants in this country, watch watch what happens if you open Turkeys borders to Europe.

  • Just BTW, the attempted bombers were sentenced to a 35-40 year tariff today.
    On came some senior Islamic politician from London, saying that we should tell the Islamic communities the good news about ‘making democratic change‘, to wean them off mass murder.
    Change?CHANGE? Is he conceding the need for the world caliphate and proposing that everything will be fine if Fascism is established democratically, ie by voted putsch?
    And nobody picked him up on this.
    They just broadcast it straight.

  • Their Solicitor Imran Khan is right now whingeing on behalf of his clients. They were charged because of islamophobia…etc…etc…not because they had lots of fertiliser enough to make a sodding great bomb.

  • Jacob

    The record of military dictatorships in fostering individual freedom is not good. Armies are full of rigid authoritarians and they operate by violence and fear of violence.

    The same can be said of many democracies – culminating with the Weimar republic which bred Hitler, democratically.
    Many democracies are terribly corrupt and bad, some are “islamist” (Iran), others are (or were) communist (or moving towards communism). Many democracies are a prelude to totalitarian rule, or totalitarian rule in disguise (like in Iran).
    We might wish that the bad democracies reform and improve without military intervention, but it doesn’t happen this way, at least didn’t in the past.

    The Army, in many cases, prevents the collapse of a country into communism, islamism or just chaos. Military rule is in many cases not worse than the chaotic, corrupt democracy it replaces, and in many cases, military rule is better. (In some cases it is worse, too).

    The bias against military rule has leftist origin, as the military, many times, prevented the lefties from grabbing power and establishing leftist totalitarianism.

    So you have to recognize the very positive role the military played in the history of many nations, and judge every case on it’s merits, without succumbing to leftist prejudices.

    In Turkey, it was the army who deposed the old, decadent despotic and corrupt regime, and established the modern Turkish (democratic) Republic, and the army who helped maintain this republic. A clear case of a very positive role the army played, and hopefully, will continue to play as long as the (relatively) liberal and secular Turkish republic is in danger.

  • Midwesterner

    If there were some bizarre set of circumstances where a dictatorship would genuinely protect individual freedom better than an elected government would…

    I don’t know my British Imperial (very late imperial) history very much at all, but wasn’t Hong Kong under the British (prior to the transition phase) a non-democracy basically dictated from Britain? Or am I way wrong?

  • RAB

    Well there was always a Governor Mid. Appointed by HMG
    but how much they ruled is anyones guess. In the old days when Hong Kong was an Entrepot (you’ll all have to look that up.Too complicated) , probably quite a bit. Quiet deals with the tongs etc as was expected of Tai Pans.
    Like the rest of the Empire though they ended up with a police force, a Parliament I think or a council.
    Did Hong Kong pay tax to Britain in any way ?
    I would really like to know.But I doubt it.
    I read somewhere that at Hong Kong at its handback was worth one fifth of CHina’s GDP on it’s own.
    Happy Birthday China!
    Now look what the busy little British incubated free market bee Chinese are doing for the rest of China!

  • Midwesterner

    The reason that I have that impression is that I have vague recollections of the Communist China rulers being very upset that the Brits were creating last minute democracy in a place where they had never before seen the need. IIRC, they concidered it an effort by the British to sabotage the handover.

    Is there any truth in that?

  • Pa Annoyed

    Mid,

    You’re correct. Hong Kong wasn’t self-governing, it was governed by Britain. It’s values were set by the British, and its governance kept under control by the British public, and I suspect if the government had decided to badly mistreat Hong Kong, they would have faced unpleasant popular consequences at the ballot box, albeit not from the people of Hong Kong themselves. (Handing them over to China wasn’t nice, though. I’m not entirely sure why they did it.)

    It was ruled by a democratic government, and therefore had some of the advantages of democracy, but it was not itself a democracy.

    It’s a tiny bit like illegal immigrants don’t get to vote for the US government, but still enjoy the advantages resulting from the fact that it is accountable to the people. Are they governed democratically?

  • Nick M

    Mid,
    Yes, to a certain extent. We democritised HK towards the end. The main driving force I seem to recall were the HK folk themselves. Obviously they were frightened of a PRC takeover and felt that if they had this sort of thing set-up already then it would help protect their autonomy.

    As far as preventing the hand-over itself… That was never going to happen because quite simply our lease had run out and we didn’t have an international law leg to stand on. Short of a unilateral war with China there was no alternative. There was another issue though which encouraged us to “do something” for the HK Chinese. We refused UK passports (which they wanted as an insurance policy) to the inhabitants of our former colony to all but the very rich. This was because of a mass immigration fear which I utterly failed to understand. Given their entrepreneurial spirit I would have welcomed as many HK Chinese to these shores as fancied turning up.

    I am fairly sure I’m right in outline here but if wiser heads wish to correct what I’ve written, please feel free.

    HK became a British Colony following the Opium Wars and ended with a hand-over to a totalitarian state which had not long before carried out the Tienneman Sq Massacre. Not the finest example of our Empire at start or finish.

  • Midwesterner

    My theory that I am looking for substantiation for, is that individual liberty can make its greatest gains where unfettered democracy is obstructed or denied.

    Even in America, which is falsely claimed to be a democracy (Infidal touches on how, in America, democracy is an administrative technique for managing routine functions of our constitutional republic), we are to be subjects of a constitution and bill of rights with non-democratic authoritarian power.

    It appears from my conversations with people I know who grew up in or lived for extended times in Turkey that Kemalism is as a practical matter, the constitution of the military and that it transcends the political constitution of Turkey as the de facto constitution for the military. But I have also heard concerns that the strictly enforced secularism of military officers is under threat from political and popular forces.

  • CFM

    A little OT but nonetheless – we’ve had two Turkish visitors to this thread with pertinent comments. One who obviously put some considerable effort into posting in an unfamiliar tongue. So I have something to say to Altan Yörük and Kim, who have voluntarily joined the international Libertarian conspiracy:

    Welcome to Mr. Liberty’s Wild Ride. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, to avoid bodily asset confiscation by the statist obstacles along the way.

    Please do not throw spitballs, rotten vegetables, or hand grenades from the vehicle. As satisfying as it is (for all of us) to hear the Splat of contact with a smug lefty mug, it’s considered bad form. We’re the civilized ones, after all.

    No taxpayer expense has been (or ever will be) spared by the current management of Earth-Park for your viewing enjoyment . As we pass through the park, you will see many strange, deranged, and degraded beasties from the collection:
    - Howling, cross-eyed, mouth-foaming BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) victims.
    - The incredible, inert, resource-gobbling Bureaucrat Varmint.
    - Swarms of blood-sucking Tax Leeches. These have the incredible ability to Morph before your very eyes – Cameron to Blair, Arnold to Davis, Sarkozy to . . . well, we’ll see.
    -Darting flocks of clucking Glueball Warmening Chicken-Littles. Guard your Hummer – they’ll try and peck it to death.
    -Brigades of Screeching Hypochondriac Socialized Medicine-men.
    -The famous Kumbaya-choir awaiting their beheadings.
    -The Aquatic Greenpeace Screeching Gull (just rats with wings, actually – they like to fly in and crap all over oil platforms)
    The Birkenstock-clad, mousyface whining nag-hag (their mating call is unique – “it’s for the chiiiilllldrennnn!!.

    With all these critters about, you have the right to keep and bear Arms for the protection of your family, your life, and your Liberty. This right only applies when residing in one of the few regions where we Libertarians still have a bit of juice. Texas, Arizona, a few others. When in California, Oz, or the U.K. – you’re screwed. BTW – please don’t shoot the Greeks. We like them.

    True, our track seems always to lead us directly back to where we started, but we have loads of fun along the way.

    Caution: The Lefties always throw stuff at us as we pass. When you see them, duck. It really pisses them off that they can’t make their bullshit stick to us.

    Welcome aboard. And that’s no joke.

  • Sunfish

    Please do not throw spitballs, rotten vegetables, or hand grenades from the vehicle. As satisfying as it is (for all of us) to hear the Splat of contact with a smug lefty mug, it’s considered bad form. We’re the civilized ones, after all.

    Once the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend. Your car, your upholstery, I’m just saying….I don’t know what I’m just saying. I was distracted by my cat drinking from a glass of Anchor Steam. I figured him as more of a Kolsch kind of cat.

  • Sounds like Jack Daniels to me anyway…

  • Nick M

    …unfettered democracy is obstructed or denied.

    I don’t feel comfortable with “obstructed”. It seems wasteful and weak. Governments at least have to be strong enough to persue effective foreign policies. But Democracy obviously needs to be fettered. There needs to be things it can’t touch. What those things are should be fairly obvious to most people here.

    The big problem is that a lot of people don’t get this at all. I recently had a debate with some folk who argued the current “inappropriate” clothing crackdown in Iran is justifiable because Iran is a soverign nation with a democratically elected government* and could therefor pass whatever laws it wanted to because of this mandate.

    That’s an extreme example but this sort of argument permeates much of the “democracy is sacred” agenda at every level.

  • Nick M

    *sort -of

  • Midwesterner

    Jack Maturin had some interesting thoughts about strong governments and military adventurism in this thread.

    Sunfish’s cat drinking Anchor Steam has perplexed my day. I knew a horse that would drink my coffee given the chance. Incidently, my out-bound email is still down.

    The reason I chose to include “obstructed” is because sometimes, a constitution can only delay democracy. This is the root of our problems in the US. Our Supreme Court justices are, practically speaking, democratically elected after a time delay. This is yet another consequence of changing our constitution to place a popularly selected senate instead of one selected to represent the state government’s interests.

    I’m prepared to believe that the military in Turkey has protected freedom better than has been done any where else in the Muslim world. I think it is a situation worth understanding better and hope that readers with good knowledge of 20thC Turkish politics can offer somemore thoughts.

  • All democracies are potentially underpinned by the military.
    Remember the public disorder in Liverpool in the 20s/30s?(I don’t :))
    Or Northern Ireland 1967-1996?
    The military is charged with defending the state(of course the State was termed ‘the People’ a little too much in Rumania, and they chose the people in fact over the Securitate).