Why are Mr. Soner Çağaptay and the like trying to cast doubt on coup attempts and preparations in Turkey?
And why do they deliberately ignore clear evidence, recorded conversations, seized weapons and ammunition, confessions and the statements of so many anonymous witnesses? Has Turkey never suffered through military coups staged for this reason or that? Who launched the military coups of 1960, 1971 and 1980 and the postmodern military interventions many years later? Who unjustly executed Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and two ministers of a democratically elected government? While even primary school children know the truth about these facts today in Turkey, should we not take even the slightest sign of a coup very seriously? Or is this callous behavior and turning a blind eye to these events and even distortion of the truth the exact mentality of the coup hawks?
Mr. Çağaptay writes in his article “What’s Really Behind Turkey’s Coup Arrests?” published by Foreign Policy on Feb. 25, that “a mountain has moved in Turkish politics.” You then expect that he will say things such as “everything in Turkey is now returning to normal” and “democracy is now being established more firmly.” Alas, in a very confusing way, Mr. Çağaptay starts defending the continuation of the very problematic status quo. We have had many governments in Turkey that were elected by the people but were never able to govern independently. These governments were always challenged by groups in the military and civilian bureaucracy. Meanwhile, there are structural and implicational problems in our legal code, and especially in our Constitution. Many of these codes were formed during junta rule. Human rights were violated and many murders still remain unsolved in this country. While the European Union questions all these defects during negotiations, they push and insist that Turkey do its best to be fully governed by the rule of law and for it to firmly establish democracy in every part of the country. Similar criticisms sometimes also come from the US. Nevertheless, Mr. Çağaptay still wants business to carry on as usual, leaving us all to wonder why.
All dictators and elitists play target diversion games to be able to continue their existence and influence. They always want to exist by diverting the attention of people elsewhere or by creating and presenting new enemies. In this respect, take a look at what Çağaptay says: “All shots against the military are now fair game, including those below the belt. The force behind this dramatic change is the Fethullah Gülen Movement (FGH), an ultraconservative political faction that backs the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).” That is, the army and some people must never be criticized. If they are criticized, this means they are the enemy. Do things happen like this in America? Or do you have special formulae for Turkey that you deem suitable for third world countries? Çağaptay does exactly what those who are cornered do and that is to try and pervert the course of justice and cause confusion before finally letting the cat out of the bag and pointing his finger at the Gülen movement. If this movement is really behind Turkey’s democratization process, then should we not thank it?
As Mr. Çağaptay himself knows very well, lobbies are one of the main dynamics of the US system. The US has a pluralistic democracy. Being an academic who studied in the UK and served as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, I also know very well that Americans feel very proud of having a pluralist system and being open and transparent. In Turkey, too, as is the case in every democratic country, there can be, and there should be, various movements, lobbies and trends such as the Gülen movement that can mobilize lawfully. Why should there not be a pluralist and transparent democracy in Turkey? Hence, what he really means is that democracy, plurality, openness, transparency and the rule of law suit America, but when it comes to Turkey, where his Excellency was born, a suppressed and defective democracy, an elitist government, the rule of state instead of the rule of law, a society in which covert and clandestine acts are conducted instead of an open transparent society and even single-party rule all fit well. Even if you regard these bad clothes suitable for Turkey, we and a vast majority of our people do not. We now know what is good and what is bad for us, and thanks to this awakening, Turkey is now an illuminating star on the rise. That is why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describes Turkey as “an emerging global power.” And this is why US President Barack Obama made his first overseas visit to Turkey. That means Çağaptay, having buried his head in the sand, does not want to know anything about these things.
Despite having worked and continuing to work in the US, Mr. Çağaptay prefers to write in a language and terminology of a third world writer. “However, these allegations are part of the Ergenekon case -- a convoluted investigation that so far has produced nothing in the last three years but a record-setting 5,800-page indictment, hundreds of early-morning house raids, and the detention of many prominent Turks, including university presidents and prominent educators such as Kemal Gürüz and Mehmet Haberal,” Çağaptay writes. How can highly respected people be arrested even if they are found guilty!? He means that those who received a certain education and occupy certain positions can never commit a crime, that they should be subject to favoritism and that the judiciary can never try them. However, do you have anything to say about claims, crimes and murders that stand as testimony against these “respectable” people? Were these people arrested while walking innocently on the street, like many victims during junta rule? Why did one of the former prime ministers, Mr. Bülent Ecevit, have to flee from a hospital? Everyone is equal before the law and that is and should also be the case in our democracy. If claims and accusations are put forth, the judiciary is there to investigate.
One must not distort reality and cause confusion. One must also not forget that the Turkish judiciary is neither under the command of the AK Party government nor does it belong to the Gülen movement. In a democratic country, everyone who works in the judicial system should be completely independent and free from every ideology. In any case, this is one of the targets of the changing process in Turkey. If the judiciary is under the control of the government or a special group, then the AK Party would not face threats of closure from the Constitutional Court and Gülen would not have had to leave his country because of hostile pressures.
Indeed, all these are signs of a normalization process in Turkey that should have been conducted much earlier. Turks deserve to enjoy a first-class standard of living, the rule of law and democracy just as much as Americans, the British or any other nation in the world.
*Professor İdris Bal is an instructor at Turgut Özal University in Ankara.
Published on Today's Zaman on 10 March 2010, Wednesday
What is behind Çağaptay’s aggression from the other side of the Atlantic? (1)