Schoolyard Bullies Leading Nations …

Lest we here in the U.S. think we have a monopoly on spoiled brats in the upper echelons of government, let us look across the pond for a brief moment.  Specifically, at Turkey.  I have written much about Turkey and President Erdoğan and his grab for additional power at some length, the most relevant to this post being From Turkey To The United States.

erdoganAs mentioned in that post, Erdoğan has recently proposed certain constitutional changes that would transform the government into a near dictatorship.  The changes would enable Erdoğan to make all government appointments, take back the leadership of the ruling party, and stay in power until 2029, pending presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms. The proposed amendments would entirely abolish the Office of the Prime Minister.  One that threw up red flags for me is Article 84: The powers of Parliament to scrutinize ministers and hold the government to account are abolished.  And Article 98: The obligation of ministers to answer questions orally in Parliament is abolished. These amendments are to be voted on Sunday, 16 April 2017, which is the source of the current escalating tensions between Turkey and, of all places, the Netherlands.

tulips-hollandIn the EU, expats from Turkey who are currently living in another EU country, say the Netherlands or Germany, will be allowed to vote in the Turkish referendum next month.  So, the Turkish government has been sending foreign ministers to each country that has a large population of Turkish nationals to rally support for the referendum.  The trouble started on Friday when Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was in-flight, bound for the Dutch city of Rotterdam to attend a rally, as there are some 300,000 Turkish expats living in the Netherlands. The rally was cancelled amid concerns that, with the Dutch national elections being held next Wednesday, it could lead to public disruption.  Still, Çavuşoğlu was determined to go to the Netherlands, at which point Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, issued an order disallowing Çavuşoğlu’s plane from landing.  Çavuşoğlu said he planned to fly to Rotterdam anyway, and warned that if the Netherlands blocked his arrival, Turkey would respond with harsh economic and political sanctions. Last week, the German city of Hamburg banned him from speaking at a rally, after which Erdoğan accused Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German government of Nazi practices, then soon thereafter he had a German reporter arrested, saying he was a German spy and a terrorist.

So what happened next?  Erdoğan, speaking at a rally in Istanbul, made a statement that ranks right up there in terms of maturity with what Donald Trump might have said in similar circumstances:

“You can stop our foreign minister’s plane all you want, let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on. They are Nazi remnants, they are fascists.”

And then … Turkish authorities sealed off the Dutch embassy and consulate, and also closed off the residences of the Dutch ambassador, charge d’affaires and consul general.

And then … Dutch authorities detained Turkish family affairs minister, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, to keep her from addressing another rally in Rotterdam to garner support for Erdoğan’s referendum.

bully-2.jpgAs of this writing on Saturday night, that is where things stand, however I’m fairly certain we have not heard the last of it.  So why did I choose to write about this?  On the surface, there is some humour here, as it is reminiscent of a playground shouting match, and I could almost expect Erdoğan to start saying “nyah-nyah-na-nyah-nyah” at any minute.  But delve a bit beneath the surface, and it is both ludicrous and dangerous.  These are not 10-year-old children on a schoolyard, but full-grown adults, people who had enough education and qualifications to be placed in the top positions of their nations.  The tit-for-tat behaviour that is pretty much normal for a child, is abominable when practiced by men in positions of power and trust.  We have Donald Trump in the U.S. who has acted quite similarly, barring reporters who he did not like, calling for violence at his campaign rallies last year, and seeking redress and reparation against any who cross him.  North Korea has Kim Jong-un who has long been known for childish, temperamental displays.  These are the traits of men like Hitler, Stalin, and others who sought complete control and tolerated no discord.  It does not bode well for the future of the globe to see leaders who would use threats and even violence to resolve problems rather than diplomacy.

Erdoğan’s referendum is destined to increase his power and lead Turkey into a dictatorship. One excellent article, if you have an interest in the politics of Turkey, was published in a January edition of Aljazeera.  Even if you aren’t particularly interested in Turkey and its problems, with a man like Trump in the U.S., and other potential ‘populist’ leaders on the horizon in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, we must consider the effects these ‘leaders’ may have on global affairs.  Just look at the ways in which Trump has already, in just six weeks, offended many of our allies, cast shadow on the honesty and integrity of his entire administration, devalued the education system, healthcare system, and environmental protection agency, to name only a few.  Think what the world would look like if every leader around the globe lacked the ability to negotiate with others in a rational manner, to make decisions based on intellect rather than emotion. This is why it is important to put Erdoğan in the spotlight, or under the microscope.  For much the same reason, Europeans who will be holding elections in the coming weeks/months, need to look toward the U.S., see what chaos is being wrought by the new administration, and proceed with caution.  I spoke not long ago about our seeming inability to learn lessons from history … today I hope that we are able to learn lessons from the present.

19 thoughts on “Schoolyard Bullies Leading Nations …

  1. Pingback: Dark Cloud Over Turkey | Filosofa's Word

  2. Oh well, what can I say? It certainly does not help that there will be elections here tomorrow and all the politicians are very eager to grab a few last minute votes. So part of the “diplomatic crisis” between Netherlands and Turkey is due to this. Two countries in the middle of election campaigns … But of course the problem lies deeper, it is about the integration/loyalty of of Dutch-Turkish (and German-Turkish and Austrian-Turkish) citizens. Hot topic. And even hotter: the whole Turkish referendum … sigh. I would really hope that the level-headed, democratic-minded people will be in the majority (means “no” to the referendum), but I doubt it. I am afraid the outcome will be another loss for democracy … 😦

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    • Like you, I do hope the referendum in Turkey does NOT pass, but like the lemmings over here, it would seem that some are willing to follow Erdogan with blinders on until they realize they are in a free-fall off the cliff. Of more immediate concern is, of course, your own election today. I will be following the news literally with bated breath, and fingers crossed that Geert gets the slap-in-the-face he deserves. Certainly I say this because I think he is a poor choice for the Netherlands, but also because many analysts believe that if he wins, so will LePen, Petry and others. SIGH. Sigh. sigh. 😦

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      • Yes, I am quite curious about the outcome too. It is a strange feeling to read so much about the politics here, to explain it to the kids etc. but not being able to vote. 😉 But I guess I will get my chance next year in Austria (and I am not sure if I am looking forward to that! The choice is quite limited there … so it probably will be a “choice of reason” again, not a choice of someone I really believe in (not even thinking of finding someone I get enthusiastic about!)

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        • Well, it is now around 2:00 a.m. your time, and looks like ol’ Geert lost the election! I am as happy as if I lived there! The guy was just too much like da trumpeter! I sent you a brief email, but got a message that it did not go through, even though it initially said it sent successfully. So, I am confused … let me know if you got it.

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          • Yes, it looks like my Dutch friends made it! 🙂 Wilders did gain seats in the parliament (at the moment it looks like his party will have 20 of the 150 seats, 5 more than before), but at least he did not come “first”! 🙂 So everyone here is very relieved, but there will be tough negotiations for the building of the next government. A functioning government neats at least 76 of the 150 seats, and at the moment it looks like there will be 4 parties necessary for that. You can imagine the arguing …. Oh well, one step after the other. For the moment, we are happy. – No we hand the flag of attention over to France and their presidential election…
            (And no, I have not received any email from your … not for a long time .. I will send you one to see if it goes through…)

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            • Yes, I need to work on understanding the coalition building part better. I read conflicting stories last night … once said that Wilders’ party will be an important part of any coalition, but another said that a coalition could be built without his party.
              I am puzzled about the e-mail thing … did you get the one I sent … oh, probably a month or so ago? The message I got last night said the “connection was refused”, whatever that means. Yes, please do try to send one … I will keep an eye out for it. i wondered why I hadn’t heard from you lately … figured you were busy, but now I think you didn’t get my last emails. We’ll figure it out. 😀

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              • The last email I got from you is from 12/12. I have sent you a couple since then: 15th and 24th of December, 25th of January and today. Curious if you got them. If not, let me know… I have another email address we could use …
                About the coalition: Wilders won’t be part of any coalition. Period. All of the other big parties have declared they won’t work with him. So he is out. They can forge one without him, although they will need at least 4 parties together. The three biggest ones – VVD, D66 and CDA – miss a few seats, so they need to get one other party on board. Everyone accepts the negotiations to be long and tough. But these kind of negotiations traditionally take a while in the Netherlands. 😉 Until then, the old government will be doing the daily work.

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                • Well this is just beyond strange! No, I didn’t get one today … I just checked, even checked spam folder. Double checked to make sure you are still in my contacts list, and you are. I tried sending another just now. So far I have not received an error message. I’ve never had this happen before … I’m puzzled. We need to figure this out, as I have really missed your emails!
                  Thanks for the clarification on the coalition. I don’t know how you guys keep all those parties straight! 🙂

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  3. This is classic ‘New’ Turkey asserting its own identity and harking back to some imagined ‘glory’ days.
    Erdogan’s position has strengthen since the botched army coup of 2016. He is able to play on people’s fear and both rack up the emotions of his religious base while demonstrating how much he cares for his country. Tweaking the nose of ‘The Russian’ Bear’ with the shooting down of one of their aircraft played well. He can play these cards as much as he wants to suit his purposes.
    Tragically this does nothing to make a settlement between the Turkish and Kurdish populations or the help with the mire of Syria.

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    • I have always believed and still do, though I am not an expert and have no proof, that Erdogan had a hand in staging the coup in July, to give him an excuse to impose his State of Emergency and take on a greater degree of power. Nothing I have seen in the past 8 months has changed my mind. I also see several parallels between Erdongan and Trump, and have long believed that Trump may have something similar in mind. Democracy around the globe seems to be facing many challenges this year.

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      • Regarding Turkey, I’m going more with the ‘Tides of History’.
        Since the end of World War I the Turkish army has been a secular institution with a history of intervening in the political system. In this context the coup attempt can be seen another episode. This time they mis-calculated by opposing a strong government with its own ‘popular’ street base. (And probably had a contingency plan for such a move). Had they won this powerplay they would acted the same way as Erdogan is doing now- as they have done previously. Turkish politics can be from time to time very spectacular and brutal.

        In an US scenario, bearing in mind
        The size of the nation
        The diversity of the population
        The alignment of those already opposed to him (urban mayors in particular)
        The natural tendency of the security forces (FBI, NSA, CIA, Armed Forces etc) to seek a stability and continuation of the status quo as even with police and National Guard it is quite beyond the resources to aggressively contain, say 100,000,000 protesting people.(even with a few ‘militias’)
        The ‘mystique’ of the US constitution (I use the word in comparison with the awe in which people of the Middle Ages held the status of ‘The King’ -as opposed to the person who was the king)
        The financial markets horror at such an obvious move.
        If he is even contemplating anything close and mentions it outside of a small circle of sycophants and extremists then he will swiftly find himself, at best, being told ‘its for the best he retires of grounds of ill-health’ and if he doesn’t-…..well. Mr Stone (of the bracers) should be recalling what happened to his original mentor..

        It seems to be, historically that Democracy is always under threat, even from within as its own variations battle for ‘their way’….Leaving the current administration aside; the arguments and fury within the US and Britain are essentially being conducted by differing views of Democracy- the problem truly arises when ‘Someone’ decides to intervene for the ‘Good’ of the ‘Country’, or one side or both of the debate decide that ‘Desperate Times Require Desperate Remedies’
        It always ends up with children crying and adults burying the dead.

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