A Failed Military Coup In Turkey Is The Worst Possible Outcome For Democracy

People react near a military vehicle during an attempted coup in Ankara

This failed military coup has achieved the awful outcome of allowing Turkey’s tin pot dictator in gestation, the despicable President Erdogan and his supporters, to pose as champions of the very democracy they are busy subverting

Nobody in their right mind usually yearns for a military coup – the violence, confusion, civilian casualties, suspension of justice, martial law and human rights abuses which occur in the best of times are nothing to welcome, no matter how odious the status quo.

But once it became clear that a military coup was underway in Turkey, involving at least a subset of the military, it were better for that coup to succeed with as little bloodshed as possible than to have it fail.

Why? Because if you thought President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was bad before, just wait until paranoid, vengeful President Erdogan 2.0 is unleashed once he has finished putting down the coup and reasserting control over his divided country.

This is a vain and power-hungry little man who was at one desperate point last night reduced to addressing his nation via FaceTime, through an iPhone screen pointed at a television camera. He will not have taken kindly to this humiliation, and his vengeance will be swift and merciless.

President Erdogan was already well on the way to tin-pot dictator status, jailing critical journalists and political opponents, seizing control of independent critical newspapers and turning them into pro-government propaganda outlets, violently suppressing popular protests, subverting the constitution and building himself a palace fit for a king. All of this will now be accelerated.

As Mark Wallace rightly warns in Conservative Home:

If you thought he was a paranoid tyrant before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Erdogan was already throwing his weight around – jailing journalists, seizing control of critical newspapers, sending riot police in to fight protests and so on. But now he has a concrete threat which he can use to justify any and all repressive measures. The odds are that we will now see even tougher clampdowns which sadly will extend will beyond those actually responsible and likely sweep up many targets whom the government finds it convenient to be rid of.

Worse still from a secular standpoint, the military’s bluff has now been called. Turkey’s military has historically served as a firewall, a last line of defence against creeping Islamism and theocratic control. While details of this coup attempt have yet to fully emerge – it may be the case that these events were plotted only by one specific subset of the military – it now appears that the military has gambled and lost. It is hard to see them serving their pro-secular role in future, especially once Erdogan has made further personnel changes, replacing the current general staff with his stooges.

This failed coup attempt is also bad news for everyone else who relies on Turkey being a moderately stable presence in the region, and a trustworthy negotiating partner. Erdogan already had the European Union over a barrel with its pants down, extorting huge sums of money from European taxpayers in exchange for taking the smallest of actions to stem the flow of migrants and refugees entering the EU via Turkey. Expect that price to go up (while Turkey’s commitment to abiding by its agreement goes down) now that Erdogan feels the need to shore up his own position.

But the truly depressing thing about this failed military coup is the fact that it allows an utterly despicable and contemptible man and his hardcore supporters to parade around like the champions of democracy when in fact they are its sworn enemies. Erdogan himself once remarked that he views democracy as akin to getting on a bus, and that once the bus reaches its destination he will get off – in other words, he will submit himself to taking part in elections until he has built up a sufficient power base, and then kill Turkish democracy in the crib so that he can never be removed.

Already in the early hours of the morning, when it appeared that the coup attempt was failing, we saw Erdogan’s supporters wrap themselves in the flag of democracy:

Sadly, some in Britain who should know better – including the normally reliable Brendan O’Neill – joined in the same chorus:

The events cited by O’Neill – the establishment’s horror at Brexit, the Islamist terrorist slaughter of innocent people in Nice on Bastille Day and this failed coup in Turkey – are hardly comparable. While the first two do indeed represent the hatred held by some people for popular liberal democracy, President Erdogan is no great believer in liberal democracy, using it as a vehicle when it helps him but quick to suppress it when it represents a threat to his interests.

The danger is that by ennobling Erdogan’s survival by lumping it together with legitimate democratic movements (like Brexit) we help to shore up the power of somebody who is no friend of democracy, and who fully intends to snuff out democracy altogether once he has used it to drag Turkey back to some primitive, theocratic dark age.

This really is the worst of all possible outcomes. Military coups are never something to be celebrated, even when aimed at deposing someone as unpleasant as Erdogan – his defeat should come at the ballot box, not at the barrel of a tank gun. But a failed coup is doubly bad since it weakens the military, hardens Erdogan’s supporters and makes the man himself even more paranoid and authoritarian – there are already talks of Turkey reinstating the death penalty to deal with the plotters.

Whichever side had prevailed in this coup attempt, democracy would have been the nominal loser. But democracy’s defeat will be particularly bitter now that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stands strengthened and victorious.

 

Postscript: The failed coup in Turkey also seems to have brought out the worst in several British politicians, notably Labour MP Chris Bryant who thought that turmoil in Turkey provided a perfect opportunity to smear Brexiteers:

In other words, Chris Bryant is literally blaming Brexit and the quest for British independence from ever-closer European political union for causing civil unrest in a country thousands of miles away.

“Sore loser” doesn’t even come close to describing this hysterical, childish behaviour from an elected Labour MP. So out of touch are Labour MPs with the mood of the country (and their own constituents – Chris Bryant’s constituency voted for Brexit, 54-46 per cent) that even now they are sulking and taking part in a tantrum, lashing out at the British people for having the temerity to ignore their doom-laden advice and drag them away from their beloved EU.

The next time you hear it said that the Corbynites are rendering the Labour Party unelectable, remember that it was the centrist Chris Bryant acting like a moronic child on social media while civilians were being killed in Turkey.

 

Turkish President Erdogan addresses during an attempted coup in Istanbul

Top & Bottom Image: Indian Express

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A Chuka Umunna Leadership Bid Now Would Destroy The Labour Party

Chuka Umunna Labour Party Champagne Socialist 2

The current Labour Party will not transition seamlessly from Jeremy Corbyn to Chuka Umunna, and any leadership coup proposing an Umunna-like replacement for Corbyn will make the Republican Party presidential primary look like a model of restraint and civility

Clearly the EU referendum and upcoming Budget are not providing enough excitement for Fraser Nelson, because he is also busy agitating for an immediate (and almost certainly ill-fated) coup to depose Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership of the Labour Party and replace him with exactly the kind of person who the Labour grassroots detest with every fibre of their souls.

Yes, that would be Chuka Umunna:

It’s the Ides of March today, and there are pitifully few signs of a Labour plot. I was on ITV’s The Agenda last night with Chuka Umunna, one of the putative successors to Jeremy Corbyn, who was teased by Tom Bradby about his ambitions. He came out with the usual hedged denials (“there’s not a vacancy.,, I’ve said I would never say never”) but then came out with the rationale for ousting Corbyn.

The problem: most Labour members were not members this time last year. The party has been taken over by Corbynistas and while Labour MPs could technically change the leadership it’s harder to change the membership. Chuka agreed- but then gave the democratic case for deposing Corbyn, in defiance of the wishes of party members.

“Clearly, Jeremy has a very strong support amongst our membership. But then if you look at the parliamentary Labour party they have a direct mandate from 9.3m Labour voters. If you look at the research on things like Trident the parliamentary party would be closer to the views of the voters than the members and there’s that tension.”

So how to resolve the tension? I do hope the Labour moderates come up with a way soon, and bring this sorry pantomime to a close. PS At the end of The Agenda, guests are invited to present a fantasy front page. Mine was intended to give some encouragement to the Labour moderates.

Fraser Nelson’s pitch for a Chuka Umunna leadership bid consisted of this rather unlikely picture:

My views on Chuka remain unchanged until new evidence (of the non-hagiographic kind) prompt me to revise them:

Just what the Labour Party needs. Another dazed and confused London career politician stumbling shell-shocked and bewildered beyond the M25 in a belated effort to understand why so many working and middle class people – Britain’s strivers – spurned his party at the general election, totally unconvinced by a Labour manifesto and message conceived in Islington but barely embraced even in Hampstead.

At a time when David Cameron is building an inclusive Tory cabinet which conspicuously harnesses the talents of women and MPs from working class backgrounds, for Labour to respond by crowning a well-moneyed, metropolitan, UKIP-hating elitist such as Umunna would only serve to confirm everyone’s worst suspicions about the party.

And those suspicions are that the modern, virtue-signalling, style-over-substance Labour Party would rather dwindle to an angry, self-righteous, ideologically pure talking shop for the London dinner party set than do the hard work of rebuilding in order to actually help the people it claims to represent; that it lacks the wisdom to recall its ideological roots or the humility to reach out to its scorned party base.

The notion that the Labour Party as it is presently constituted could go from being led by Jeremy Corbyn to the stewardship of someone like Chuka Umunna without about three transitional leaders to ease the way is absolute fantasy. While New Labour centrists and wistful media types may wish it were otherwise, the Blairite Labour Party is in a state where it cannot simply be rejuvenated with a click of the fingers and a telegenic new leader.

At this point, even managing to replace Corbyn with somebody like Ed Miliband (himself considered unpalatably left wing by much of the country) would be a major achievement, and even that is highly unlikely. The fact that Dan Hodges – the columnist whose finger is closest to the pulse of Labour Party plots – thinks that the party’s current greatest hope is Angela Eagle, of all people, shows just how far the ground has shifted to the Left under Labour.

Fraser Nelson was hopefully just making a lighthearted joke when he suggested that Chuka Umunna succeed Jeremy Corbyn after a leadership coup which would be sure to enrage over half of the party’s membership. Because to even attempt to go from Jeremy Corbyn to Chuka Umunna in one step would precipitate such a period of rancour and infighting that it would make the Republican Party’s rage at its ongoing takeover by Donald Trump look like the model of civility and restraint.

 

Chuka Umunna - Labour Party Leadership Bid - General Election 2015

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A Portuguese Coup: How The EU Suppresses Democracy Without Trying

There may be no tanks on the streets, but only because that’s not the EU’s style. The European Union has now mastered the art of the bloodless, self-administered government coup

Television stations continue to broadcast. People continue to work, shop and go to school. In fact, life goes on as normal in nearly every way. But there is still a coup taking place in Portugal today.

At the beginning of October there was a general election in Portugal. The governing centre-right government led by prime minister Passos Coelho lost seventeen seats and their parliamentary majority, and though they remained the largest party they were unable to form a new government. After a few weeks of political horse-trading, the leader of the Socialist Party, Antonio Costa, forged a coalition deal with two other left-wing parties, the Left Bloc and the Communists. Together, they held a wafer-thin majority and could plausibly claim the right to govern.

But unfortunately, some of these left-wing parties held the Wrong Views. They were against the existing “austerity” terms of the bailout provided to Portugal by the European Union. Some of them – quick, fetch the smelling salts – were against the European Union entirely. And for holding these eurosceptic positions – views which were validated by the Portuguese electorate less than a month ago – they were prevented from forming a majority coalition government.

With these chilling words, the Portuguese president openly admitted that which has been an unspoken reality in Europe for some time – that democracy may exist, so long as it does not stand in the way of ever-closer European union:

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