Monday, June 18, 2007
Perle and Turkish Exceptionalism?
Perle's comments were quite interesting to me because of his seeming acceptance of a "mixed" [ed. this is my own assessment] system for Turkey and his criticisms of outside "tinkering" with "internal institutions" that work fine within a Turkish context. This is, of course, the "extraordinary and unique relationship" between the Turkish armed forces and the republic, where the military acts as the guradian of the country's secular democracy and intervenes whenever necessary--including taking power as a last resort--to deal with ineffective civilian governance or threats to Ataturk's legacy.
Another was his analysis of the recent constitutional/presidential crisis--that in essence the AK (Justice and Development) Party, which while receiving only 34 percent of the vote had a parliamentary majority, was on the verge of taking the presidency as well, which would give them not only the ability to pass legislation but to remove roadblocks that had been placed by the previous president. In his opinion this would upset the checks and balances of the Turkish system.
I think what many in the audience found to be fascinating in these remarks--and Steve Clemons of New America tried to draw out the further implications from the perspective of the Washington policy debate (and particularly the democracy/one-size-fits-all rhetoric)--is that it was a recognition that 1) context and history matters in a country's political development--that "one size does not fit all"; that 2) the results of democratic elections should not overturn a country's political institutions even when those institutions are unelected--in this case, the role exercised by the Turkish military and 3) a certain degree of management of the system is necessary to preserve stability.
It was very reasonable--but, for example, I think it would be far more difficult to make similar arguments about other Eurasian or Middle Eastern states.
On a separate note, I was concerned by the gap in the U.S. discussion about "the day after." The mantra continues to be recited: it is in U.S. interests that Turkey be admitted to the European Union. And if that doesn't happen? Then what?
Yet he is incapable of accepting the role of Qum and Najaf and the institutions of Shia Islam in the political life of Iran or in Iraq. And there is far more authencity, intellectual vigor, and depth to Shia Islam than to a bunch of shallow uniforms with guns.
He is advisingon accepting the "dual" system in Turkey and not tinkering with it but, at the same time, he is a champion of regime change in iran even though Iran also has a "dual" system.
Is he for real?
It really is as Khomeini said: "Our sin has been to oppose US policies in the World of Islam."
Also, regarding class, how long can the Army go against an emerging class?
Consistent but wrong on two counts.
1- Iranians are not pro-American; they just are not visceraaly anti-American in contradistinction to most of their Sunni Muslims.
2- At least 4 times during the the last 150 years the religious classes have had major impact on the course of events in Iran. These people cannot be subtracted from the Iranian (and also Shia in general) politics.