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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Stronger Together? The Mighty European Union Is Dancing To The Tune Of A Petty, Minor League Tyrant

Greeting between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the left, and Jean-Claude Juncker

The unedifying sight of European leaders falling over themselves to flatter and persuade the two-bit despot of Turkey to help solve a problem largely of their own making is damning proof that EU member states are definitively NOT stronger together

The most common refrain heard from Remainers and assorted EU apologists is that by pooling (read: surrendering) sovereignty with 27 other nations, we are “stronger together” and mysteriously greater than the sum of our collective parts – that something magical happens when Ireland, Britain, Slovakia and Croatia act through a supranational government based in Brussels which (for reasons they never explain) could not be achieved through friendly inter-governmental cooperation between sovereign countries.

This tiresome and unsupported claim is fatuous beyond words, and usually uttered by people who don’t understand the first thing about either the history of the European Union or how it operates, but who nonetheless cheer on the idea of European political integration in order to virtue-signal the fact that they hold the “correct” progressive  opinions to their equally vapid friends and peers.

And if you want proof that being part of a remorselessly politically integrating club of 28 diverse countries actually makes us the very opposite of “stronger together”, one need only look at how the European Union is being hoodwinked and bullied by that beady-eyed, egotistical, embryonic dictator from Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Douglas Murray writes in the Spectator:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, has persuaded the EU to grant visa-free travel to his 75 million countrymen inside Europe’s passport-free Schengen area. In so doing, he has made more progress than any of his predecessors. Using a combination of intimidation, threats and blackmail, he has succeeded in opening wide the doors of Europe.

Erdogan’s success matters, because it says much about the EU — and the idea that it exerts ‘soft power’. This was the theory in 1999 when the EU declared Turkey to be ‘a candidate State, destined to join the Union’ so long as it fulfilled the standard criteria for membership. Its state should have ‘achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities’.

And it was all going so swimmingly. Oh, wait:

As Erdogan has worked out, however much Turkey fails to live up to the EU’s expectations, the EU’s attitude to Turkey is ‘ever onwards’. Its 2013 ‘Visa Liberalisation Dialogue’ set out 72 conditions on security, migration, public order, fundamental rights and readmission of irregular migrants that Turkey needed to achieve. Despite failing them, in November last year the EU and Turkey agreed that visa-free travel should start this October. All the time Turkey demanded more and faster.

As well they could. Because last year — after the German Chancellor opened the borders of Europe to anyone who could get here — the tables turned. Persuaded that every problem in the Middle East, Far East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa was Europe’s fault and Europe’s responsibility, millions duly came. And will again. Today, even the European Commission and Frau Merkel realise that in order to avert political catastrophe in Europe, they must bring the number of entrants down. Suddenly, as Erdogan himself said, ‘The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union.’

So this is the European Union’s much-vaunted “soft power”. This is how forcing 28 separate countries – incidentally, countries which often lavish money on social programmes but completely neglect their own security and defence – to act through a single supranational government actually works in practice. How other nations must tremble when Europe speaks.

The supposed soft power of Brussels is supposed to be European political union’s chief advantage and a key foundation of the Remain campaign’s case for staying in the EU, yet on the most important of issues it is virtually non-existent, a paper tiger. Turkey’s president openly mocks and belittles EU leaders to their faces, even as they roll out the red carpet and treat him “like a prince” (in the word’s of the European Commission’s own pandering  President Juncker).

But as Tom Slater correctly points out in Spiked, the real fault is not with Turkey and Erdogan, thin-skinned, authoritarian despot though he is. The problem is with Europe and its profound crisis of values:

As for the migrant deal, it was EU incompetence that ceded Erdogan all of his leverage in the first place. Having chosen to ignore the fact that it had long lost control of its southern borders – not least because of some of its members’ cack-handed crusades in the Middle East and North Africa – the EU’s response to the refugee crisis was chaotic and can-kicking. The EU elite’s attempt to enforce migrant quotas on member states was a typically anti-democratic move. But it couldn’t even pull that off. The EU is as inept as it is tyrannical, meaning cutting a deal with Turkey became the only option.

The ground-shaking power of Turkey is the fantasy of a continent that doesn’t know what it is anymore. The more Europe drifts from its founding values, the more EU elites struggle to execute anything other than a photo-op, the more Erdogan, the ‘tall man’ of Ankara, grows in stature. Bashing Turkey can only distract us from this profound crisis.

But how can this be? How did this “profound crisis” come about? Forcing 28 separate countries under the suffocating umbrella of one supranational government with one collective presence on the world stage was supposed to amplify our voice. Hell, the EU’s most starry-eyed lovers even dream of Brussels rivalling and eventually supplanting the United States as the most consequential actor in world affairs. And yet here we are, failing in our negotiations with a pathetic little tin-pot dictator, throwing away billions of taxpayer euros in the hope of the slightest concession from Turkey, while the eurocrats are bested and humiliated at every turn.

This is what happens when the EU tries to prance around on the world stage as though it were a legitimate country, despite not having the one thing most fundamental to any nation state – a cohesive demos, a people with a shared European identity, let alone common interests. This is what happens when the conflicting priorities, fears, red lines and neuroses of 28 separate countries are forcibly mashed together – the result is a laughable compromise backed with the weakest of wills, easily picked apart by a half-competent negotiator.

Erdogan isn’t stupid. He knows that having eliminated internal borders, the EU’s Schengen area countries are desperate to stop the immigration crisis at (or at least near) source, and that consequently he holds all of the cards. Erdogan knows that the EU is hopelessly divided, with German chancellor Angela Merkel having made the grandiose and criminally irresponsible gesture of welcoming anybody with the means to enter Europe – seeking to expunge Germany’s past national guilt in a single stroke, knowing that hundreds of thousands more would be encouraged to come while other countries would end up footing much of the bill.

A Europe that was not intent on forcing itself against common sense and natural law to become a single political entity might be able to deal with the Syrian (and broader) refugee and economic migration crisis in a rational, productive way. A Europe based on inter-governmental cooperation rather than supra-national control might be able to hammer out a deal to accept more genuine refugees, share them equitably, take only the brightest and best of the economic migrants, and offer real assistance and solidarity to countries like Greece and Italy which bear the brunt of the crisis. But this is not the Europe we have. Once again, the stubborn desire for European political union is actively killing people.

So let’s hear it again from the Remainers and desperate EU apologists. Let them continue to lecture us about how the European Union “amplifies our voice” and enables us to “punch above our weight“. Let them tell us how Europe’s representative on the world stage, former Young Communist Federica Mogherini, is universally feared and respected, the modern day hybrid of Charlemagne and Henry Kissinger.

Let them continue to peddle the preposterous myth that little old France, Germany and Britain – two of them nuclear powers, and the other the world’s fourth largest economy – are helpless on their own and only worthy of sitting across the table from the mighty President Erdogan to seek his favour because they cower behind the EU’s skirts.

Let them tell us again how being in the European Union gives us the diplomatic clout that countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, India and Russia so effortlessly wield every day, but which pathetic little Britain would struggle to replicate on our own.

Go on. Tell us. Read the latest account of hundreds of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and tell us again just how star-spangled awesome the European Union is, and how successfully it helps us grapple with the most pressing challenges in today’s world.

Seriously. I’m all ears.


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In Turkey, Journalists Sentenced To Jail For Charlie Hebdo Solidarity

Charlie Hebdo cover - Tout Est Pardonne

In Turkey, Theocracy – 1, Free Press – 0

Turkey takes another step towards fundamentalist theocracy as freedom of the press recedes even further.

Hurriyet Daily News reports:

Two journalists were sentenced to two years in prison on April 28 for republishing in their columns a cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo featuring an image of the Prophet Muhammad.

Istanbul’s Second Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced daily Cumhuriyet journalists Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya to two years on charges of “openly encouraging hate and enmity among people via the press” for reprinting the caricature of the Islamic prophet after the Jan. 7, 2015, attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris that killed 12 people.

However, the court ruled for the acquittal of the journalists on charges of “insulting people’s religious values” on the grounds that the criminal factors had not been constituted.

Some 1,280 people had filed a criminal complaint against Karan and Çetinkaya for republishing in their columns the cover of Charlie Hebdo, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his daughters Esra Albayrak and Sümeyye Erdoğan, his son Bilal Erdoğan, his son-in-law Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and his adviser Mustafa Varank.

So the climate for journalism in Turkey is now such that a despotic thin-skinned president and members of his parasitic family feel that it is appropriate to drag journalists before the court and have them convicted simply for carrying out objective reporting.

Closing down independent newspapers and converting them into pro-government propaganda outlets is apparently no longer enough. Individual journalists must also be persecuted and jailed for offending the sensibilities of the Turkish president, his close family members and a thousand or so other assorted religious fundamentalists who believe that their right to sail through life unoffended trumps the right of journalists to report the news.

The Telegraph outlines the wider negative trend:

But the sentencing comes amid a mushrooming crackdown on Turkish and international news media within the country. According to PEN International, some 28 writers and journalists were either detained or imprisoned in Turkey at the end of 2015 while more than 100 remained on trial, most for national security offenses.

Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, and the paper’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, are currently on trial on trial behind closed doors on charges of revealing state secrets and could face multiple life sentences if found guilty.

International trial monitors and press freedom groups have condemned those proceedings, describing the case as an instance in which “journalism is on trial”.

And this is a country which entertains hopes of joining the European Union.

This is the regime which Europe Germany is scrambling to appease.

The sentencing of these journalists is unacceptable. But it is also exactly what many in Britain and the West tacitly condone when they leap to their feet in defence of the right of “marginalised” people to avoid having their religious faith and political opinions subjected to the same scrutiny, discussion and criticism as those from the “privileged” majority.

This is the legacy of every single person who supports the concept of “hate speech”, or whose condescending, neo-colonialist views of Muslims and other minorities hold that they are inherently less intelligent, less capable of engaging in debate and more prone to violence than the white majority, who should indulge them in their fragility or violent excesses like understanding parent figures.

As soon as one accepts the racist notion that some people are inherently less capable than others of having their beliefs and opinions challenged or even mocked, one opens the door to civil or criminal penalties for doing so.

When the Metropolitan Police arrest a man in London for tweeting something deemed by completely unconnected third parties to be “Islamophobic”, it becomes that much easier for authoritarian regimes in parts of the world with weaker democratic traditions to claim that they are only following “best practice”, that their despotic excesses are just a nothing but a difference of degree. And at the very least, this makes it much harder for Britain to remonstrate with Turkey. How can we lecture Turkey that arresting journalists is abhorrent when we do the same thing ourselves?

It is time for Britain and the West to reoccupy the depressingly deserted moral high ground. Yes, criticise Turkey for their government’s chilling suppression of free speech and a free press, and yes, proclaim that you are still Charlie (but only if you really are).

But as we do so, we should not allow the beam in beleaguered Turkey’s eye to distract us from the steadily-growing speck in our own.


Freedom of Speech - Free Speech

h/t Brendan O’Neill and  Mashable

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