If you weren’t on social media, you missed it in the United States… In fact social media here also was slow to put it up, more concerned with domestic issues. It started 4pm here Friday afternoon so if you only found out about it on Saturday morning when you checked your newsfeeds, congratulations on your ongoing Social Life…
One of life’s great attributes is its ability to surprise. And everyone was surprised by this.. The Turks. Our CIA. Europe, even parts of their military, were caught by the initial shock wave.
In fact as the troops rolled into position across Istanbul (Not Constantinople) all mostly assumed it was another training or terrorist action. Just 3 weeks prior their airport bombing had made top story on the international news. And perhaps something ongoing was happening again… that or a training exercise to ready for the possibility.
The topic of conversation was Pokemon Go, and when the suggestion was made that perhaps it was a coup, laughter ensued. Within 45 minutes or 4:45 our time, the realization that this was no exercise, stunned the nation… State TV got taken over and the warning was sent to stay at home; government was being changed…
When we think of coups, we here in America (being fed our news filtered by the CIA), tend to see coups in two ways… Either they are our side taking over a bad government, or a bad side taking over our friendly government which can only be good because that’s why we support them….
Turkey is different. Coups are their enshrined protectors of their Constitution… Their founder, Atatürk who fought the Ottomans and founded Modern Turkey, was historically knowledgeable and had seen democracies come and go, both in his lifetime as well as through historical records. He knew that democracies work ok most of the time but the inherent weakness of democracies was that power was often put into directly into the hands of “the uneducated…”
The Uneducated can be unduly influenced to abandon democracy (what good is it to them) and establish an autocratic ruler in whom they identify… That does not bode well for minorities who find themselves tortured, killed, and expatriated all by these same uneducated who often blame them for all society’s wrongs.
Today. Right here. We see the potential for this in America this very election cycle. This is no abstract matter and with foresight, Atatürk put an instrument in place to insure it could not happen there. The equivalent would be here, if we elected Trump, our Constitution would demand the Army step in, run things until we had a new election….
Thus Turkish Armed Forces see themselves as the guardians of the secular and unitary nature of the Republic along with Atatürk’s reforms and have intervened by taking over the government three times. When the nation became too Islamic, the army stepped in; when the executive becomes too powerful, the army steps in…
We will have to wait to discern what drove this coup. Looking back it appears to have been poorly planned since it failed to achieve its objective. But looking at it live minute by minute, it was touch and go there for several hours… Analyzing it now two days later, it almost has an amateur feel to it… the assumption that taking two bridges, the commercial airport, state television, and their capital complex would vault them into power. It is almost simplistically Russian.
Some speculation now rampant, is that it was driven by the military’s fear they were about to be purged, something their attempt now exacerbated for it is now definitely happening. Others conspire that it was Endrogen’s own successful attempt to consolidate power by crushing a fake uprising. Their is evidence out there supporting both. The one thing that is clear, and we know this from our communication’s intercepts, is that a refugee in Pennsylvania had no prior idea this coup was upcoming… (unless carrier pigeons fly across the Atlantic.) for no electronic impulses gave any sophisticated indication of an upcoming coup; no, our intelligence system was flat-footed surprised like everyone else…
And it is this weird pick for a dastardly villain masterminding a coup half a world away, that actually makes one look a lot more realistically at this as Endrogen’s own “Reichstag Overture”.
It is too much like your boss always bullying on someone at work and when anything negative happens, angrily blaming that person even though their complicitness would by the facts, be entirely impossible.
It is overall more likely that certain groups of idealized people inside Turkish government felt the leadership of Endrogen was getting too strong, which it was, leaving the military as prescribed by the Constitution, as the only left alternative.
There are a lot of lessons. One, don’t initiate a coup unless you are willing to slaughter your own people. Had that taken place, democracy would not have won. It only won because the military insurgents decided to stand down instead of kill their own fellows. Even at the picturesque bursts of weaponry filmed live on the Bosporus Bridge, the troops were shooting over the citizen’s heads and the few injuries came from ricochet bullets.
At the surrender and at the filmed turning-back of the takeover of CNN in Istanbul, we see the army as little boys. Many were not told what they were doing and then while still thinking themselves in a training exercise, inexplicably found themselves up against orders to fire on their own people. The young teenager shouting orders to the CNN personnel is completely bewildered that they don’t automatically do what he says and instead argue back to him, questioning his motives, his morals…
The bottom line is that overall, the Turks did not want this coup. Endrogen has his supporters; roughly 50% of the populace. The other 50% just 3 years ago in violently suppressed riots, were calling for him to vacate. A lot of people don’t like him any more then people here don’t like Obama… But none of those against him, stood up for the coup. Unified all Turkey called for its abandonment and to solve their internal problems democratically. They may not stand up for Endrogen, but they stood up for Turkey to continue as a Democracy… regardless of where that may lead them in their future.
Which could be galling.
Today, masses of military personnel have been purged. The Judicial Branch has been stricken by large numbers of arrests… Although the sequestered hermit in Pennsylvania is still getting most of the blame, the real drive propelling the coup were the principles embedded in the Constitution itself. The military swears allegiance not to the President, but to the Constitution. If they find they must chose between the President versus the Constitution, it is the Constitution is to whom their allegiance lies.
Ironically Democracy in Turkey may end if Endrogen can now consolidate all power, directly as a result of the huge outpouring of the people who answered his call to overturn the coup in order to preserve Democracy… Were the coup’s defeat to lead to forgiveness and unity and cooperation between all parties, then its defeat might have been best. Right now, it is leading to the return of the death penalty, purging of judges and generals, and less power to the Legislature. If it continues its lean to the consolidation of all power behind Endrogen, then Democracy in Turkey as well as its secularism will find itself under under a serious new threat.
What was most interesting in experiencing this live, was that indecision over its outcome remained up until the minute the US came out behind Endrogen in support over Democracy over their Constitution… With that announcement, it was then clear the coup would fail and eventually be over… It is both wonderful and still hard to believe we have that much power across the world even to this day, but because we do, we need to be very careful of speedily turning over one of our best assets for Endrogen’s replacement, (should Turkey go autocratic at Endrogen’s insistence). Considering future worst case scenarios, we should plan and hope one day we may be able to return to Turkey, the democracy they enjoyed up to today….