Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gulen v. Trump; how will they square the circle?

NATO's biggest challenge going forward won't be President Trump. It will be President Erdogan of Turkey.

NATO, the militarized face of The Nations of Virtue, at least 25 years past its best-before date, is dealing with "incoming" threats for the first time in its history. In the shape of the incoming president of the United States.

Trump seems less than convinced that NATO serves any useful purpose. That's got a lot of NATO careerists nervous. And that's a lot of nervous people. From the top-shelf bosses in Brussels to their multitudinous support staff to the minions in the NATO liaison corps in each of the 28 member nations (could be 29 - is Montenegro in yet?) we're talking many tens of thousands of nervous people.

NATO member Turkey's wily President Erdogan claims that last summer's coup attempt was organized by Fettulah Gulen. Gulen is an international man of mystery who has been cooling his heels at an idyllic compound a couple of hours north of Langley for the past twenty years or so. The think tank here at Falling Downs gives Erdogan's suspicions a 9+ on the ten point plausibility scale that we use to winnow the wheat of real news from the chaff of fake news.

Mr. Erdogan has been insisting that the US extradite Gulen from his Pennsylvania hidey-hole to face "justice" in Turkey. That line would have been funny when Midnight Express came out almost forty years ago. It's exponentially funnier today!

So NATO should probably toss Erdogan over the side (which they arguably tried last summer), Trump is luke-warm (at best) on NATO, Erdogan is cosying up to Putin once again, and Trump (according to mainstream American media) is already in Putin's pocket.

Where does this leave Gulen?

High and dry, you'd be tempted to say, except for a couple of little things. Gulen is the polar opposite of Trump in many ways. One is a under-the-radar introvert, the other a vainglorious attention hog. But they are much alike in other ways. Definitive financial statements for either of them are equally difficult to pin down, for one thing.

Gulen is one of the biggest charter school operators in America. And who did Trump just nominate for Secretary of Education? Why, Betsy DeVos, America's number one champion of charter schools!

So, will Trump dispatch Gulen to face justice in Turkey? Or will Gulen force Erdogan out of office?

It's hard to see how Trump can square that circle.

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