Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tear gas, democracy, and bullshit

The think tank here at Falling Downs has followed with keen interest the misadventures of the wily Erdogan over the past few years.

It was with great anticipation then that I settled in to read "Tear gas is a symptom of weak democracy," on page F2 of my morning Globe and Mail.

The writer, Claire Berlinski, is identified only as a freelance writer living in Istanbul, who has written a book about Margaret Thatcher. Her affiliations with right-wing US think tanks and "democracy promotion" outfits are conveniently overlooked, perhaps to spare the reader from pre-judging Berlinski's opinions.

Ms. Berlinski claims that due to structural flaws in Turkey's political infrastructure, her "path to tear gas is a straight line."

Presumably the path to tear gas takes a more meandering route in more advanced democracies like Canada, the US, or Sweden; one can only speculate on the route it takes in our non-democratic tear-gas-loving allies like Bahrain.

Those structural flaws have also created an "immature electorate unaccustomed to thinking rigorously..."

Astute readers will recognize immediately that this leaves the Turkish electorate in exactly the opposite conundrum faced by the American voter, who, while ready and eager for some rigorous thinking, must content herself with having nothing but the cretinous spewings of... Paul Ryan? Mitt? Herman Cain? Newt? Bachmann?... to work with.

Our freelancer leaves us on a bleak note indeed; waves of arrests, a prison-building boom, and freedom loving idealists giving their lives for their democratic principles; that is the future of freedom in Erdogan's Islamic Republic.

What is most extraordinary about Ms. Berlinski's article is that over the course of half a page of newsprint, there is not a single mention of Syria. Turkey has been neck-deep in the Syrian conflict since before it started. The arming and training of Syrian "rebels" on Turkish soil is enormously unpopular among the immature Turkish electorate and is one of the major sources of disaffection with Erdogan's rule.

Just an oversight? Or does this oversight mirror the agenda of this "free-lancers" paymasters at the American Foreign Policy Council and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Studies?

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