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Turkey: Three Years After the Coup

July 14, 2019 in Economics

By Mustafa Akyol

Mustafa Akyol

On the night of July 15, 2016, millions of Turks (myself
included) found themselves in the middle of a sort of drama – one
they thought they had left behind in the past century: a military
coup. Around 10 p.m. local time, a faction within the armed forces
began arresting top commanders, taking over strategic positions
such as the Bosporus Bridge and the Istanbul Ataturk airport. Soon
they forced the state TV, TRT, to read a declaration that the
“Peace at Home Council” had taken control of the state.
Around midnight, one could have thought that a military coup had
really happened and the government of then-Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan was gone.

However, in just a few hours, the coup attempt was overturned.
Other factions of the military and the police force proved loyal to
the government. Perhaps most decisively, civilians took to the
streets, partly after a televised call from Erdogan calling on all
Turks to resist the attempt to topple his government. About 248 of
these civilians paid with their lives, as the putschist soldiers
opened fire on crowds and crushed some with tanks. Today, they are
commemorated in Turkey as “July 15 Martyrs.”

July 15 was a major trauma for the people of Turkey — a
point which, I believe, has not yet been quite understood outside
of Turkey, especially in the West. Meanwhile, the ferocious
post-coup crackdown — one of the darkest eras in the history
of the Turkish republic — triggered a wave of anti-Western,
particularly anti-American, nationalism that threatens
Turkey’s at least 150-years-old Western orientation. Here is
a brief overview of why this has been the case, and what U.S.
policy makers would be advised to do.

July 15 was a major
trauma for the people of Turkey — a point which, I believe,
has not yet been quite understood outside of Turkey, especially in
the West.

Was This A Real Attempt?

I believe so. Because the alternative theory — that this
was a “theater” set up by Erdogan to make use of it
later — is too fantastical. (It is like claiming that 9/11
was an inside job, because it was later utilized by the
neoconservatives in the Bush administration to occupy Iraq.)
Hundreds of officers put their lives into this attempt, only to end
up with jail sentences for life. It is hard to imagine that they
hoped to achieve anything other than a real takeover.

Yet it was a shabby attempt. Turks well know the first rule of a
successful coup: It begins when most everybody is asleep, not when
everyone is awake and probably watching TV. But …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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America Should Rethink Its Commitments to Allies

July 14, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Washington’s demands toward North Korea and Iran have one
important feature in common. In both cases, U.S. officials in
multiple administrations have insisted that America’s adversary
renounce any ambition to possess nuclear weapons or a significant
ballistic missile capability. The underlying assumption is that if
Tehran or Pyongyang possesses even a small nuclear arsenal, it
would pose not only an unacceptable threat to regional peace but
also a dire threat to America’s own security.

The worry about a menace to the U.S. homeland is
improbable—unless Washington continues to put America’s
safety and well-being at risk to defend vulnerable allies and
security clients. That caveat underscores a crucial distinction
between direct deterrence (deterring an attack on one’s own
country) and extended deterrence (deterring an attack on a third
party). The former has high credibility; the latter has
significantly lower credibility.

Extended nuclear
deterrence may be more dangerous than everyone thinks.

The United States successfully deterred the Soviet Union during
the Cold War, even though that country possessed thousands of
nuclear weapons and sophisticated missiles to deliver them. U.S.
leaders had confidence in the doctrine of mutual assured
destruction—that Moscow would never attack the American
homeland, knowing that a U.S. retaliatory strike would be so
devastating as to eliminate the USSR as a functioning society.
Washington warned the Kremlin that such retaliation would occur not
only if Moscow launched an attack on America, but also if Soviet
forces attacked Washington’s European allies or key U.S. security
partners in East Asia.

Because the Cold War ended quietly, U.S. leaders concluded that
extended deterrence had worked well and that it would have general
applicability in a different era and under different circumstances.
That may be a very faulty assumption. Although Kremlin officials
apparently believed that the United States might risk even nuclear
war to defend a major strategic and economic prize like Western
Europe, they may have far greater doubts whether Washington would
actually carry out a similar policy to shield small countries on
Russia’s border. At a minimum, the danger of miscalculation is
substantially greater.

Extended deterrence also entails elevated risks for the United
States in its confrontations with North Korea and Iran. Although
the evidence is not definitive, it is likely that Pyongyang already
has a small nuclear arsenal, and the North Korean
regime certainly has worked diligently to build a reliable missile delivery system. Iran’s
program is not as advanced. Tehran has not conducted any nuclear
tests (in contrast to North Korea’s multiple tests since 2006), and
the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which
Tehran signed in 2015, put major limits on …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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President Trump's War Power Delusions

July 14, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

We should celebrate the fact that President Donald Trump stepped
back from war with Iran. But he followed up with even more violent
rhetoric and the claim that he wasn’t even required to notify
Congress of his plans, let alone to seek its authorization to
launch military strikes. However, the decision for war is not his
to make.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a different approach. He
claimed that war with Iran would be covered by the 2001
Authorization for the Use of Military Force in response to Al
Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11. That argument may be even worse since it
subverts the Constitution through misdirection and deception.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a malign actor but that hardly
sets it apart in the Middle East. To the contrary, Washington has
consistently allied and partnered itself with malicious regional
governments with malicious governments. In 1953, the United States
helped overthrow the democratically-elected prime minister of Iran,
Mohammad Mossadegh, replacing it with the autocratic Shah. He had
his own geopolitical ambitions, which he put before those of the
United States. He also began the country’s nuclear program. Thus,
if Iran ever develops nuclear weapons, then it will be a Persian
bomb rather than an Islamic bomb, and the United States should
consider itself the midwife.

Donald Trump claims that
he has right to unilaterally and irresponsibly go to war at his
discretion. His aides appear to be creatively justifying that
stance.

By almost every standard, Saudi Arabia is worse than Iran.

The Middle East was important strategically to U.S. interests
due to the country’s dependence on the region’s abundant oil
exports. In recent years, the United States has been able to
harness shale technology to become the world’s top energy producer,
so the Middle East’s strategic importance has become weaker.

Washington has long been concerned about Israel’s security,
which is part of the reason for why it has remained deeply involved
in the region. But these days Israel is a nuclear-armed regional
superpower; its primary existential threat is internal, the growing
tension between being democratic and Jewish. The United States
cannot help it resolve that conundrum.

U.S. foreign policy in the region has, over the last several
decades, been proven to be disastrous. The United States’ support
for autocratic regimes, persistent military interventionism, and
its strong backing for Israel have made Americans a tempting target
for terrorist groups; the 9/11 attack was a strong reminder of
that. During the years that followed the attack, America’s approach
toward Afghanistan transitioned from counterterrorism to permanent
nation-building. Its war in Iraq wrecked the country. Its presence
in Libya created yet another broken state. …read more

Source: OP-EDS