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With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Calm, Rational, Debate?

September 3, 2010

The Turkish Military’s raison d’etre is that it is necessary for the state to continue existing as a whole. Without a strong military, the argument goes, Turkey will splinter into a bunch of small protectorates each loosely adherent to a foreign power. In 1920, this was actually the Great War Allies’ plan:

Dolmaz Anadolu

So ever since Lausanne and through the numerous coups, the military has been a fact of Turkish political life in a way that is difficult for Americans or Brits to understand. To put it simply, there is a great difference between growing up between two oceans and growing up between two hegemons (not to mention the Middle East). And it’s difficult saying things like this sounding defensive, unfortunately. Which is the problem with analyzing Turkey: everyone thinks that you’re in someone’s pay. I would LOVE to be in someone’s pay, believe you me.

But until I am, here is a Threat Level Report for the enemies of the Turkish Military. The rating goes from 0/”Tone-deaf Ezzan” to 10/”Apo-A.Q. Khan lovechild”. In other words, we’re using the Hyperbole-and-a-Half Scale. And this is from the Military’s perspective, not D.C.’s. Because this is Turkey for Turkey’s sake and all.

  • PKK and/or Kurdish Nationalism: 9. Discussed previously and honestly takes more than a paragraph to discuss. But there’s a reason for nation-wide conscription and the “Güçlü Ordu, Güçlü Türkiye” posters. And it’s not Greece. The Syria angle, too, is worth a few thousand words.
  • Citizens upset with how the Military is run: 1. Yeah, there are videos of soldiers being executed by PKK folk. Yeah, people are upset about them, and for good reasons. But remember all the anger over the Wikileaks clip of journalists being killed in Iraq? Of course. Remember all of the outrage that led to change in how wars are fought? Me neither.
  • Christian Missionaries: 7. Some of the more sinister nationalist elements have shown they have an idea of how to treat Bible-thumpers (note: please ignore the last 3 paragraphs of that article). For all of the “St. Paul’s Trail” stuff in this country and the branding of Turkey to get tourism money, there is some serious distrust of missionaries. Which then pushes a lot of Missionary work underground, which then only exacerbates things. One could correlate this distrust with the rise of Missionary Schools in the late Ottoman period, but I would like to see more evidence, myself. That said, there are some worst-case-scenarios being bred within the U.S. Military both in Iraqi Kurdistan and out of Incirlik. These guys creep me out to no end. It’s kind of an open problem that nobody responsible wants to talk about, which is an issue I’d personally keep an eye on.
  • Assyrian Nationalists: 4. More of a footnote to Bigger Problems, the Assyrian Community isn’t really taken too seriously within Turkey. That said, I trust van Wilgenburg if he says there’s cooperation between violent Assyrians and the PKK. It makes a lot of sense in a certain sort of way. And hey, they have their own football selection! What else does one need for an irredentist nationalist movement?
  • Armenian Terrorism: 1. Yeah, not the 1920’s anymore. But I put this in to share a funny story. I wrote a paper in undergraduate about the funding of the PKK and how said funding related to their branding/message in general. The first question I was asked was, “This is great, but how can you relate it to al-Qaeda?” After I explained what Marxism meant, historically, I was told, “OK, but my colleagues in the Turkish military were telling me how the PKK is inextricable from ASALA.” To which I threw up my hands in an exasperated fashion.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 7, 2010 10:14 pm

    Hoo boy, let’s talk about some of these points over beer this weekend. I have some good fodder for your Christian Missionaries bullet point.

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