So how is the establishment of a new dictatorship in Turkey going? Things are looking up for Recep Tayyip Erdogan by all accounts. Not only was the very short lived and ill fated coup against him quashed in near record time, but he’s had significant support from his own citizens in consolidating his power and rooting out any undesirables who may disagree with him. But if there’s one rule which any good dictator knows, it’s that you always need an enemy to menace the safety and security of the population if you want to remain in power, and if you can’t find one at home you need to summon one up from abroad. It’s a formula which has worked for the ruling family in North Korea for generations and Turkey’s president seems to be leaning toward a similar plan.
With that in mind, news arrived last night that the United States military is now being accused of taking part in planning the coup. (Washington Post)
Barely a day after the Pentagon’s top official arrived in Turkey in a bid to cool growing tensions between Ankara and Washington, a Turkish lawyer filed a criminal complaint against him and two other senior U.S. officials.
It accused Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, and National Intelligence Director James Clapper of conspiring with the plotters behind the failed July 15 coup attempt, which ended only after a rebellious faction of the military had bombed parliament and turned their weapons on civilian protesters in Istanbul and Ankara.
The media is describing the instigator of this accusation, one Mert Yilmaz, as just being “some lawyer” who is asking prosecutors to bring charges against the American officials, but let’s be honest here… he wouldn’t be stirring a pot this large without the blessings of Erdogan’s team or he’d already be taking an acid bath somewhere. Far more likely is the probability that Erdogan is using this guy as a means of keeping a small bit of distance between his administration and the charges while still getting the rumor out into the media grist mill. This helps build the paranoia against outsiders and strengthens Erdogan’s hand in solidifying his dictatorial powers.
You may notice that I’m not giving the charges any credence here. Granted, I’ll generally be the first to admit that the Obama administration has been completely incompetent in matters of foreign affairs and they’ve pulled some boneheaded moves in the past, but this is several bridges too far even for them. What on Earth is there to gain for the Obama administration by ousting Erdogan even in the most fever swamp imaginings of his secret desires? A military coup and control of the Turkish government by the army would be a total wildcard. During their brief grab at power, the conspirators were issuing statements saying that they would “honor all agreements” with the EU and pretty much everyone else. That’s fairly meaningless in terms of binding pledges of course, particularly under those circumstances, but they weren’t issuing revolutionary declarations in support of any particularly ideology either. With Turkey being such a linchpin of security in the region (at least until recently) there’s no benefit to trying to topple their government.
No, I’m pretty sure what we’re seeing here is the construction of an “us against the world” theme in Turkish public policy where Erdogan seeks to portray himself to his people as their savior against the vast dark forces arrayed against them. And judging by the accounts from the few remaining free media sources in the region, he’s pulling it off.