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Turkey’s anti-democratic turn has all taken place without much notice from the outside world. It was not just coercive measures — arrests, investigations, tax fines, and imprisonments — that Washington willfully overlooked in favor of a sunnier narrative about the “Turkish miracle.” Perhaps it is not as clear, but over the last decade the AKP has built an informal, powerful, coalition of party-affiliated businessmen and media outlets whose livelihoods depend on the political order that Erdogan is constructing. Those who resist do so at their own risk.

Cook, Steven A. and Michael Koplow.  “How Democratic is Turkey?”  Foreign Policy, June 3, 2013.

Nothing may so upset a dictator in embryo as much as the jogging of the communal memory of his antagonists.

There are no other qualified candidates, not least because more than half of Turkey’s admirals are in jail, along with hundreds of generals and other officers (both serving and retired), all on charges of plotting to oust Turkey’s mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) government.

The Economist.  “Erdogan and his generals.”  February 2, 2013.

While sufficiently cowing the military, Erdogan proved no slouch with the Fourth Estate:

Yet freedom of expression on contemporary issues lags woefully behind progress in other spheres, stymied by a government that regularly seeks to intimidate publishers, editors and reporters, as well as columnists. The Carnegie Endowment, a nonpartisan U.S.-based think tank, concluded early this year that press freedom in Turkey “is moving backward.”

Gutman, Roy.  “Turkey’s journalists say press freedom has declined under Erdogan’s rule.”  McClatchy, May 13, 2013.

Next: the educators!

By tweaking universityadmission formulas, he privilegedstudents from religious high schools, who had long been denied acceptance because they lacked a solid liberal-arts foundation. In order to help these unqualified graduates enter the civil service, Erdogan imposed a new interview process, transforming a meritorious civil service into a mechanism for political — and religious — patronage.

Rubin, Michael.  “Erdogan’s Agenda.”  National Review Online, May 16, 2013.

And back to the news on the web:

“Ordinary civilians being caught up in what’s taking place here,” says Ivan Watson while jogging toward a crowd gathered on an Istanbul street: “An old lady knocked on the ground by the water canon . . . .”

Watson, Ivan and Gul Tuysuz, Turkey protests show no sign of letdown.” CNN, June 3, 2013.

One bystander named in the video cited above says of Erdogan, “He has a big ego,  he has this Napoleon Syndrome on it.  He thinks of himself as the next sultan, and controlling all this middle east politics and such.  He needs to stop doing that.  He’s just a prime minister.”

Words more true seldom spoken.

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I’ve been using the term “God Mob” for a while and from the Coins and Terms page here, this is how I define it:

As with “mafia” in attitude or spirit, the term is indefinite as regards organization but clear in its recognition of the many and too familiar methods: bribery, intimidation, murder, patronage, theft.  ”The Godfather” lives, but under many other titles, including “President”.

In Turkey, the soul of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s democratic and meritocratic state has caught up with the assault under way by Prime Minister Erdogan and the AKP: the once protective leadership of the secular military has been compromised; an untold number of journalists of high integrity and professional mien have been broadsided, intimidated, or jailed by the Administration; and the schools, so Michael Rubin’s article suggests, have been compromised, shifting away from earned education toward rewarded acceptability on the basis of religious piety.

Erdogan may not dress like the Ayatollah in Iran, but perhaps, even so, he may resemble him in temperament.

Programs in the minds of autocrats may vary, as each has his pet, but look over the behavior, and it starts to look alike, starting with the deflection of criticism — all are always above all of that — followed, if the same persists, by an over-the-top effort to suppress it.

Three things matter to every “malignant narcissist”: 1) himself; 2) “narcissistic supply” — adoration, adulation, glorification, love, praise; 3) protection of supply by way of the control of others.


Don’t elect one in the first place.

Additional Reference

Charlemagne European Politics.  “Resentment against Erdogan explodes.”  The Economist, June 2, 2013.  Excerpt:

“Tayyip [Erdogan] istifa”, a call for the prime minister to resign, was the slogan most commonly chanted by the protestors. Not that most Turks would have known. Media bosses fearful of jeopardising their other business interests shunned coverage of the protests for nearly two days, opting instead to screen programmes about breast-reduction surgery and gourmet cooking. Faced with a public outcry, the main news channels began broadcasting live from Taksim Square. But pro-government papers continue to point the finger of blame at provocateurs and “foreign powers” bent on undermining Turkey. It seems an odd description of the thousands of housewives leaning over their balconies clanging their pots.

Taspinar, Omer.  “Turkey: The New Model?”  Brookings, April 2012.

Reuters.  “Turk protesters set fire to offices of Erdogan’s AKP”.  The Jerusalem Post, June 3, 2013.

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