The problem that emerged in the presidential election process is focused on arguments over secularism. Turkish Armed Forces are concerned about the recent situation. It should not be forgotten that the Turkish Armed Forces are a party in those arguments, and absolute defender of secularism. Also, the Turkish Armed Forces is definitely opposed to those arguments and negative comments. It will display its attitude and action openly and clearly whenever it is necessary.
– T?rk Silahli Kuvvetleri, 27 April 2007
It is perhaps easier to understand the threat implicit in the Turkish Armed Forces comment last week on the Turkish parliament’s battle over the presidency when one recalls that in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997, the Turkish military overthrew the democratically elected governments. It is clear from this polite, but unambiguous statement that the armed forces, operating in their self-appointed role as secular champions, see the election of Foreign Minister Abullah Gul to the presidency as presenting too much risk to the secular status of Turkey’s “Guided Democracy.”
The reason for this is that Mr. Gul is the candidate of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the popular Islamist party which holds 353 of the 550 seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Since Prime Minister Erdogan is also a member of the AKP, the military not unreasonably suspects that given a second chance – both Erdogan and Gul served in the Islamist government that was overthrown in 1997 – the AKP’s leaders intend to oversee the transformation of the country from a secular democracy into an full-fledged Islamic republic.
Of course, the military’s past actions and current threats make it clear that Turkey is not and has never been a secular democracy, it is merely a secular military regime sporting an amount of democratic window-dressing. The will of the Turkish people is quite clear, as the AKP claimed 34.3 percent of the 2002 national vote, nearly doubling that of the second-place party, the socialist Republican People’s Party.
And yet, one rather doubts that President Bush will be calling for an invasion to build democracy in Turkey, even if a fifth military coup takes place there this summer.
While the conservative commentariat is waxing outraged over Sen. Reid’s comments about his belief that “this war is lost” and the recent congressional votes to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq in October, their ire should rightly be reserved for President Bush and his neocon advisors, who turned victory into defeat by their appallingly stupid decision to move the goalposts in Iraq. They changed what had been a specific and relatively reasonable objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power into a nebulous, unpopular and highly improbable vision of turning a fundamentally divided Islamic state into some sort of democratic Belgium on the Tigris.
In other words, the war was won before it was lost. Or, to put it in terms that even a child can understand, the president should have quit while he was ahead. The mission was accomplished.
A Baghdad blogger, Iraq the Model, is not pleased by the prospect of the coming withdrawal, and complains: “‘America’s will can be broken, America is not invincible,’ they will say in a thousand ways. Is this the kind of message you want to send to the enemy?”
But America is not invincible, any more than Rome or Great Britain or any great power of the past, present or future could ever be invincible. To suggest otherwise is to indulge in sheer fantasy. As for America’s will, what does not exist cannot be broken; the American people were never asked to build a democracy in Iraq nor have they ever shown any signs of harboring any desire to do so. Should any Republican candidate be so foolish as to openly suggest that the American military take on the role of the Turkish Armed Forces in “guiding” Iraqi democracy by staging military coups every 10 years, the resulting Democratic landslide would make Ronald Reagan’s 1984 thumping of Walter Mondale look like a photo finish.
And yet, that is precisely the position in which the president threatens to place the American armed forces assuming everything goes better than can realistically be expected!
The great con game of the neocons and their World Democratic Revolution is ending. One hopes that the Republican Party, especially its conservatives, will remember in the future that those nominal adherents who require an adjective seldom subscribe to the core values of the noun.
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