In my youth, military coups and revolutions were not common, but they were not unheard of either. Real countries like France or Canada did not have coups, but banana republics in South America had them with some frequency. Then you had the intrigues in the Soviet Bloc. A leader would suddenly stop showing up at public events and that meant he was sick or he had fallen out of favor. Africa would have revolutions with some frequency. We called them revolutions, even though nothing ever changed, but that’s Africa.
The general assumption was that a real country did not have military coups or revolutions because they had democracy of some sort. If the people were unhappy, they could vote in people they liked. If elements of the ruling elite were unhappy, they could appeal to the public for change. The military, instead of being an instrument of the ruling class, was subordinate to the civilian government and excluded from politics. That’s not a bad place to start when defining a modern country. Real countries have elections, not revolts.
I think this is why the western news services were having so much trouble fitting the attempted coup in Turkey into their standard narrative. Turkey is supposed to be different from the rest of the Muslim world. Turkey is a real country with elections and globalism. Sure, the political leaderships sounds a lot like the lunatics from the Arab world, but that’s just an act. It’s their version of boob bait for the bubbas. Instead of guns and abortion, their rednecks want to hear about Allah and the Jews. Turkey is a real country, not a banana republic.
Following along via SkyNews, the BBC and CNN, I had to laugh at the confusion of the news people covering this thing. They did not know which side they were supposed to support. Initially, they were just baffled, as they don’t know anything about the world that is not fed to them through their earpieces. They were reduced to stuttering through live images of people walking around the streets waving flags. Then Obama came out in defense of the Islamists and the rest of NATO followed suit. Instantly, the new media was anti-coup.
Another thing I thought was humorous about the news coverage was the repetition of the claim this coup was not a “21st century coup.” I first heard this said on SkyNews and then all of the news services were saying it. Whether this was “monkey see-monkey do” or the official word from the party is hard to know. What I found amusing about it is Turkey is not a 21st century country, but it is in the middle of a 21st century civil war, of which this was a part. The fact that this is not obvious to the alleged experts, who rule over us, does not bode well for our future.
In this civil war, Erdogan is the Oliver Cromwell of Turkey and this attempted coup was something analogous to Penruddock’s Uprising. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it helps explain what’s happening in Turkey. The army is the defender of the secular legacy of Ataturk and the defender of the old order. Erdogan is the leader of the new order, the Islamists that believe they can have a modern technological society, under medieval Islamic moral codes.
Everyone seems to agree that this event makes Erdogan stronger, but Turkish politics are so opaque that outsiders can never really know what’s going on in the country. This could have been an operation run by the secular military to get the Gülen cult removed from their own ranks. The Gülen Cult is thought to have a stronger presence in the police than the military so this could be something more complex. In other words, this may not have been a revolt against the AKP but a revolt within the AKP.
There’s also the fact that ethnic Turks are a majority in Turkey for now. Kurds are the future, demographically. That’s a big part of what has put the AKP in power. The Turks view secularism as the cause of the demographic decline. The organization of the Kurds into a single political party, denying AKP a majority in the last election is a glimpse of the future and the Turks know it. That’s why the AKP sent in the army after the election to persecute the Kurds. It’s a part of what is driving the Turkish involvement in Syria.
The civil war among the Turks is about what to do about the future, a future that will have more Kurds than Turks if something is not done to arrest the low TFR of young Turks. Turkey has the Western disease, but it is still an Eastern culture. In the West, civilizational death is celebrated in the form of open borders and multiculturalism. In the East, it is met with religious revivals and bloodbaths. David Goldman makes the argument that the Iranian revolution was driven by similar forces.
The Turks are faced with a choice. They can be fully Western and go quietly into that good night. Or, they can be Eastern and fight against the dying of the light. The former means modern technology and prosperity, for a little while at least. The latter means men in robes ordering homosexuals thrown off buildings. That’s what’s happening inside Turkey today. It’s a version of what’s happening in the West, but only in a country that culturally is closer to Byzantium than Brussels.