2002 November 04 Monday
Barbara Lerner On Reasons For Turkish Exceptionalism

I agree with Barbara Lerner about the beneficial effect that the Turkish military continues to have upon Turkish politics and that its role in defending the Turkish constitution continues to be necessary. But while that may be a reason to admire the Turkish military it also continues to demonstrate the failure of liberal democracy to survive on its own in a Muslim majority country:

We all know only too well about ignorant, greedy, megalomaniacal military thugs like Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein, but Turkish military officers are nothing like that.

For starters, they are very well-educated, not just in methods of warfare, but in the sciences generally, and the liberal arts too, and they are fluent in Western languages. They have to be. The required military school curriculum is anything but narrow or provincial. Some Turkish politicians are provincial; no Turkish military officers are. These are sophisticated, disciplined men, and no wonder. The Turkish military has a long tradition of eschewing nepotism and all the other forms of favoritism that are endemic in the region, selecting and promoting officers on a strictly meritocratic basis. The Turkish military is tough on graft and corruption too. Corruption in Turkish politics is about as bad as in France and Belgium, and all Turks know it. But Turks are as surprised to find a military officer on the take as we are to find a federal judge who can be bought.

Update: Be sure to read my later post on Valery Giscard d'Estaing: Turkey Not Part Of Europe.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 04 07:35 PM  Civilizations Clash Of


Comments
Olcayto Ahmet Tugsuz said at November 7, 2002 8:18 AM:

I agree almost completely with Barbara Lerner on her ideas about the Ottomans and the Turkish military,and would like to thank her as a Turkish citizen , but have to also emphasize the fact that the military takeovers were in my belief unnecessary and the Turkish democracy would go on surviving without them.

The best proof of my belief is the mere fact that the parties in power during these takeovers have been represented at the National Assembly with even more seats after the military has turned over the power to the politicians again.

The target of the first takeover Prime Minister Adnan Menderes is now resting under a monument erected on his honor with his coffin carried there over their heads by Generals, while two others Suleyman Demirel and Bulent Ecevit have been elected as The President and Prime Minister of Turkey in years to follow , respectively.

I think this is much a better example of the existence of liberal democracy in Turkey and that it will survive forever.

Oktay Bora Yagiz said at November 7, 2002 10:51 AM:

Barbara Lerner has put out an article on Turkey that's worth reading particularly by the "holier than thou" liberals, Greens and the so-called democrats of Western Europe bent upon trying to keep its gates closed to a nation that had been more European than most Europeans in terms of the size of Europe it had inhabited for more than 500 years. I agree full-heartedly with her "fifth" reason (and equally with the four reasons of the venerable historian Bernard Lewis), and would like to congratulate her for her insight into the true spirit and values of a country not as well known and understood as it deserves. Thank you, Ms Lrner, for bringing the truth into daylight for all to see.

Can Akkoc said at November 7, 2002 1:32 PM:

Barbara Lerner's article titled "The Secret of Turkish Democracy" should be "required reading" for all Western elites, in particular the, so called, "ruling classes" who spend most of their productive lives inside a cocoon when it comes to history and the evolution of non-Western civilizations.

This is the first article ever, I have read on Turkey and the Turks that has "bothered" to dig into the layer of historic facts and demonstrated outstanding scholarship in drawing inferences from them.

Congratulations Ms. Lerner on such an objective article. As a Turk I could not have done a better job.

Kindest regards,

Can Akkoc

Can Akkoc said at November 7, 2002 1:41 PM:

Barbara Lerner's article titled "The Secret of Turkish Democracy" should be "required reading" for all Western elites, in particular the, so called, "ruling classes" who spend most of their productive lives inside a cocoon when it comes to history and the evolution of non-Western civilizations.

This is the first article ever, I have read on Turkey and the Turks that has "bothered" to dig into the layer of historic facts and demonstrated outstanding scholarship in drawing inferences from them.

Congratulations Ms. Lerner on such an objective article. As a Turk I could not have done a better job.

Kindest regards,

Can Akkoc

Randall Parker said at November 7, 2002 3:18 PM:

A few points of clarification to my original comments:

First on the achievements of the Turkish military: What is especially impressive about the Turkish military's achievement is that it has managed to avoid corruption in spite of a high level of corruption in the civilian government. The government has not been in a position to police the military on corruption and so the military has managed to keep itself clean all by itself. This means that the military has managed to create a culture of virtue and to propagate it across successive generations of officers.

As for EU expansion: The EU is already about to expand into too many countries which have too much civilian corruption. I think this is most unwise. If the EU Mandarins in Brussels had any sense they would not expand so rapidly.

As for Turkish membership in the EU: the benefits of EU membership are exaggerated. The core EU countries have not improved much in their economic performance as they have become more integrated. At the same time, the EU is distinctly undemocratic. The member states are surrendering control over issues to a less democratic and less accountable central bureaucracy. Switzerland and Norway have done well outside of the EU. Turkey may be better off outside of it as well.

See this post on the EU democracy deficit. Also see this one. You can find other posts about Europe and America here.

Cengiz Aydin said at November 7, 2002 5:31 PM:

I thank Ms. Lerner for enlightening the American public regarding Modern Turkey, recent Turkish history, and institutions. Her observation of the Turkish military being "well educated not just in methods of warfare but in arts and sciences as well as a broad knowledge of the globe" is very accurate. Turkey has its share of socio-economic corruption, very much like some European and Middle-Eastern countries. This should not be counted against Turkey heavy handedly to keep Turkey outside of EU.
Majority of the Turkish population today wants to join the EU not just for economic reasons but to be given a chance to introduce part of the Turkish culture and heritage into European society. As she has pointed out, Turkey is very rich in history (although this sometimes becomes a hindrance) also in archeology, music, arts, and love of life/people in general. Turkey is a country, which has been through many wars, hence know the evils of warfare. For this reason the founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk coined the phrase "Peace at Home, peace in The World".

Sincerely Yours,

Cengiz Aydin

Üzeyir Lokman CAYCI said at November 8, 2002 2:20 AM:

Guzel yaziniz ve tarafsiz yorumlariniz icin sizi kutlarim!
Insanca yaklasimlar insanlari yuceltir! Güçlü kilar.
Dünya insanlarinin birbirlerini degerlendirmeleri ve anlamalarindaki olgunluk, seviyeli iliskilerin, kardesligin ve yakinlasmanin bir sebebi olabilir.
Sevgi yüreginizden hiç eksik olmasin!
Hos ve sevgiyle kalin!

Invisible Scientist said at November 8, 2002 10:32 AM:

The truth is that the Europeans have written the book of
racism and bigotry.

Please see the following article pasted below. The
Europeans are going to keep Turkey out of EU due to
their racism and cultural bigotry, regardless of
how refined and pro-Western the Turks are. The more
westernized the Turks become, the more they will be
discriminated in Europe.

One common joke in Germany is this: "What's the difference
between the Jews and the Turks? We are already done with
the Jews, the Turks are next."


----------------------------------
ARTICLE ABOUT GISCARD D'ESTAING

UPDATE: Parapundit Editor's Note: I took out the complete text and replaced it with a link. Posting the complete text is probably a copyright violation and so I would appreciate anyone posting to include excerpts and the link to the article.


Mike Bowman said at February 20, 2003 10:45 AM:

Barbara Lerner wrote
"I disagree. I think the Turkish military is the great secret of Turkish democracy — a fifth reason for its remarkable longevity. It keeps Turkey democratic by acting as a necessary limit on the potential excesses of popular majorities and the sometimes demagogic elected leaders who represent them, a role not unlike the one the Supreme Court plays in our own republic. And like our own justices, Turkish military officers profess loyalty only to the constitution, not to any politician or party. At first glance, it may seem crazy to com-pare military officers to justices, but to understand the Turkish military and its role in Turkish life, you have to start, once again, by discarding old stereotypes — this time, about the military and the sort of men who become its leaders, especially in the Mideast. We all know only too well about ignorant, greedy, megalomaniacal military thugs like Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein, but Turkish military officers are nothing like that."

Barbara Lerner should give up her U.S. citizenship and move to Turkey. But I don't think she will, because Turkey is a lousy place to live. In fact, if you were a "freelance writer" for a radical online magazine in Turkey, you'd be in a torture chamber right about now, or at the very least, the offices of your magazine would've been torn down and boarded up by your beloved military. I'm getting pretty sick of U.S. citizens like Barbara Lerner who make an effort to legitimize a form of government that just doesn't cut it, simply because they want to believe that somehow Turkey's Lite version of democracy will justify us staging our invasion of Iraq from their country.

Americans need to wake up and realize that the only form of government that is any good is the one right here in the U.S.A., and we shouldn't be apologizing for countries who can't live up that standard.

Çetin Taş said at April 24, 2007 12:39 PM:

Thank you very much Barbara Lerner for being objective and kind enough to understand Turks.
My words will be a little bit more for Mike Bowman.Did you see Turkiye?How can you call Turkiye as being a lousy contry?
Why don't you even try to be honest?Are Romania,Bulgaria,Poland,Hungary,Czech Republic richer than Turkiye?Do they have better living conditions than Turkiye?Or as Ms Lerner said are France,Germany or Belgium much more democratic countries than Turkiye?Are USA more democratic than Turkiye?We hear that every year people are being sentenced to death penalty in USA.But don't you know Turkiye did not kill its Public Enemy Number 1-Abdullah Ocalan(Baby murderer),the leader of the seperatist Kurdish Terrorist Organisation(PKK)?Are Europeans or Americans much more cleaner peple than Turks?Crusaiders learned the bath culture,washing culture,toilet culture from Turks during their attacks to holly lands.
I am sick of Americans and Anglosaxons like you,you are such kind of people who have the right to comment on anything,anyone without any knowledge.
Turks are one of the oldest civilizations in the world Mike,learn history before talking about democracy or culture or lousiness or judging Turkiye and Turkish people.
I am personally against EU.I beliee that Turkiye out of EU will be much more free,much more powerfull.

P.S:I sent this message more than 4 years after your message.If yo are dead,I will take my words back and will be sorry to hear that.
Because in Turkish culture it is a big shame to talk after even your enemy.

Mehmet Atlihan said at April 11, 2008 9:06 PM:

"Barbara Lerner should give up her U.S. citizenship and move to Turkey. But I don't think she will, because Turkey is a lousy place to live. In fact, if you were a "freelance writer" for a radical online magazine in Turkey, you'd be in a torture chamber right about now, or at the very least, the offices of your magazine would've been torn down and boarded up by your beloved military. I'm getting pretty sick of U.S. citizens like Barbara Lerner who make an effort to legitimize a form of government that just doesn't cut it, simply because they want to believe that somehow Turkey's Lite version of democracy will justify us staging our invasion of Iraq from their country."

To Mike Bowman: and the world is sick of US citizens like you , who thinks America`s way of doing things is the only right way of doing them. Your allegations about the "lousy" life in Turkey are needless to say ungrounded. This often happens when an individual forms his/her opinion on something solely based on third party resources aka hearsays. After all, America is the only country that I have been, in which most of her citizens truly, at the bottom of their hearts, believe in that U.S is the "greatest" country in the world to live in. This is so great except that those are the very same people who have not "SEEN" even their OWN capital city Washington D.C for once, since their birth, let alone seeing any other part of the world. Some says its the power of media yet it still remains as a mystery to me that millions of Americans are brainwashed so badly and they can manage to arrive such a strong conclusion about their countries, without actually having been in ANY foreign country, even to Canada. So have you been to Washington DC before Mister Mike Bowman? I have some doubts but I will be more than happy to give you feedback about it and other cities throughout the country that I have been in. Perhaps when you add up your knowledge about US cities we can discuss "which city" may be the best city to live in US. I am afraid, having a discussion at the States level will not happen overnight as it would require you to travel overseas. Oh wait.. I almost you are saying that you can not "AFFORD" it right? Right.. Well no problem you can always turn the TV , preferably FOX channel on and continue to build your knowledge about the rest of the world by consuming the "news"..
Good luck

cemal karahan said at December 9, 2008 10:20 AM:

To Mike Bowman;yeah,bow your head continually not to see what 'Ugly Americans'have still been doing in the far corners of the world to maka their profits bigger and bigger stealing resources of the countries they emerged like bandits and killing every resistant in a way the world may have never witnessed before maybe except for the Nazi reign of Germany.We are in such a region that we have to do our best to survive and fight all the evils that we might encounter.Despite the breakdown of our democracy due to many reasons,we are still managing to improve democracy on the base of human rights and Turkish people see their army as the most powerful defender of the country.As Atatürk said once 'peace at home ,peace in the world' we did our best not to get involved in wars although we had been forced to by some imperialists.What has USA been doing for the sake of 'democracy'? Let me tell you;They are doing the same things again they did in the past.Destroying countries, raping women,destroying the museums where the most valuable objects are kept,killing people.Isn't there much room in your vast country? It seems there isn't.Okay go on...keep on doing and carry out whatever plan you have.There will be brave people and organizations to defend their country.You keep on eating the huge cake the world offers and pray God for being born as American.


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