Monday, April 30, 2007

Turkey, democracy, and the Middle East

Stephen Kinzer, responding to a question by The World's Lisa Mullins about why "Turk's apparently are afraid that they're democracy [threatened by itself?] and secular society is under threat now" [referring to Turkey's upcoming Presidential election]:
Now we're moving to a much more democratic, much more open Turkey. And people are able to express what they really believe, not what they have to [must] say.
Silver lining in 9/11, the Iraq miasma, and the subsequent international attention given to the Middle East: The West has seen firsthand the quixotic notion that popular self-determination is universally optimal brutally dashed on the shoals of reality.

Democracy is but one of many possible frameworks. A Jeffersonian, liberal society (which is what neocons and Friedman leftists generally consider synonymous with "democracy" and "free markets"), on the other hand, has several prerequisites the Muslim world can scarcely boast.


JSBolton said...

The Example of Turkey,
given by mendacious neocon scholars,
turns out not to have been so black a swan after all,
as it is reported that their military is threatening to overthrow the democratic regime for inadequate secularism.
The Turkish military has done this around every ten years or so, since the secularization project of Ataturk was pushed through before WWII.
Therefore, we do not have an example of Islamic democracy, to support cosmopolitan assertions on how all humanity, even the moslem,
wants and can sustain democracy without theocracy and the nurturing of terrorists.

JSBolton said...

The NYT of 4-28-07, p.A3, reports that:
"...the armed forces have ousted four elected governments in the past fifty years",
so how are we supposed to use Turkey as an example of how Islam can be transformed and westernized by democracy?

Audacious Epigone said...

"So how are we supposed to use Turkey as an example of how Islam can be transformed and westernized by democracy?"

By not thinking about it, but instead just repeating the mantra over and over again.

If Turkey, with an estimated IQ that tops the Islamic world, geographically closest to the West, and culturally secular (relatively) for the last eight decades, cannot get a popular liberal Jeffersonian democracy down (and, with Parliamentary elections for President, they're not even nominally there), how hopeless does the Iraq attempt appear?

JSBolton said...

Hope for Iraqi democracy is not one that I've ever shared.
Even if it lasts, it will not be better than a military-dominated regime like that of Turkey, given that the country is resolutely
Democracy is not lethal to established religion, but can just as easily empower it.
With plenipotentiary powers, one might install several military officers, committed to terrorist-hunting, with parliaments of sheikhs under them, and an at least, tri-partitioned Iraq.
The Sunnis lose their incentives to support terror, with Shia 'underdog' supremacy no longer threatening them, and the cycle winds down.
Borders are drawn for equal per capita shares of oil revenue, and for least missorting of populations.
There is no regard for shortness of borders between the hostile groups,
and no fealty to fictions about the natural brotherhood, equality, openness to outsiders, peace-loving and democracy-sustaining nature of all mankind; if only some supposedly contrived occasions of conflict were removed.

Irish Savant said...

Turkey highlights an issue that never seemed to have crossed the neocons' minds. namely, that democracy in an Islamic state is quite likely, even probably, going to lead to an Islamic form of government. That in its essence will not/cannot be democratic, as distinct from majoratarian, rule. This being so, Turkey in the EU would be the end of that organisation - the richest and most advanced states would withdraw.

Audacious Epigone said...


Right. Democracy is a medium, liberalism is a social/cultural phenomenon. The two are not synonymous. Democratic institutions and IQ/level of economic development tend to be related, but to the extent that causation exists, it stems from the latter two.