Foreign Affairs, Europe, Travel, Espionage, Fiction, Non-Fiction, In the News
PUBLISHED (IN HIGHLY ABRIDGED FORM) IN US NEWS & WORLD REPORT
If you’re reading the American press, you might think that the protests in Turkey have died down. Nothing could be further from the truth. On July 6—last Saturday—delivering a stern rebuke to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Istanbul 1st Regional Court issued a decision cancelling the controversial Taksim construction and the Artillery Barracks project, thus reopening the park for public use. Happy Istanbullus planned to gather in the park to celebrate this victory at 7:00 p.m. But mere hours before, the Governor of Istanbul, Hüseyin Mutlu, issued a Proclamation by Tweet: “We are holding the much-anticipated opening of Gezi Park tomorrow. The park, which was embellished by the Istanbul Municipality, may bring peace and joy.” That was it.
Puzzled, I wrote back: “Pardon me, Efendim, but I understood that the court had decided the park would be open today. I don’t understand, am I mistaken?”
Published in abridged form in The Tower
Part 1: Laying Pipe
In the sitcom business, they call it “laying pipe.” It means the exposition of the backstory, the quick explanation of the events that set the plot in motion. Sitcom writers admire each other for the economy with which they lay pipe. In writing about Turkey, the hardest part is that before you can even begin to say anything interesting, you need to lay ten miles of pipe, and by that point you’ve lost your audience. Moreover, the names are confusing and unpronounceable, Americans have simply had it with this part of the world; and besides, Turkey’s all so Byzantine—no surprise—that they just can’t keep the plot straight, even if you give them a PowerPoint presentation, Cliff Notes, and an iPhone App that reminds them who the characters are.
America’s muted response is both confusing and disheartening.
28 June 2013
President Obama surely knows that the current unrest in Turkey, which has left at least four dead, 12 blind, and some 7,000 injured, many critically, does not remotely compare—as a humanitarian disaster or as a threat to American interests—to the unremitting carnage in Syria; to the urgency of evaluating the meaning of Iran’s elections and what they portend for its nuclear program; to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq; to our imminent defeat in Afghanistan; or to at least half a dozen other foreign policy crises of greater moment, not least in the Pacific. It is entirely understandable that Turkey would not be the president’s chief concern.
What is not understandable is that the situation does not appear to be the chief concern, or indeed of any concern, to America’s ambassador in Turkey, Frank Ricciardone.
By now, everyone has heard of the brutal suppression of protests all over Turkey, which began with a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul to protect a hapless apology for a park from demolition. Right by the city’s unofficial centre, Taksim Square, Gezi Park had been slated to become yet another one of the ruling AKP’s signature Ottoman-cum-Disneyland construction projects. It was hardly much of a park, by London standards, but it was one of the last remaining places in the area with a few trees and a bit of room to stroll around. The protesters found the idea of losing that tiny refuge from Istanbul’s urban chaos unbearable.
US NEWS & WORLD REPORT
The media coverage of the upheaval in Turkey has been extensive, but certain points have been insufficiently emphasized.
The Turkish prime minister miscalculated with his brutal crackdown.
As I began to write this, at 4:00 AM on May 31, protests against Turkish police—prompted by their crackdown on demonstrators opposing the demolition of Taksim Square’s Gezi Park—were spreading from the heart of Istanbul to the entire country. As of today, the headline on Drudge reads—not inaccurately—TURK BERSERK.
The Spectator 13 April 2013
The blows Margaret Thatcher struck against socialism at home and the Soviet empire abroad are her most noted achievements. But an even greater legacy was bequeathed to her sex.
She was and will always be supremely significant to women. Unlike other women to whom she is often compared, she compromised no essential aspect of her personality. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, consciously displaced what femininity she had to reveal a drive for power; Eva Peron forsook her rationality, if ever she had it; Sarah Palin her dignity. Thatcher sacrificed nothing, except perhaps her relationship with her children. She made use of everything.
Margaret Thatcher made her own political way, from beginning to end.
8 April 2013
Before acquiring power, Margaret Thatcher was nothing. She was trained as a chemist. Her career in politics was marked by doggedness, but no one, before her accession to office, would have noted her as a distinctive British personality, a woman who for a time could embody the national will. It was power that established her importance, and power that brought into being all of her now-immortal incarnations—diva, mother of the nation, coy flirt, hissing serpent, stern headmistress, eyes of Caligula, mouth of Bardot, screeching harridan, frugal housewife, Boadicea the Warrior Queen, and Iron Lady, all in one.
There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters is the title of a book by Claire Berlinski. Berlinski talks to National Review Online about why, in fact, she does!
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why does Margaret Thatcher “matter,” as your book’s subtitle puts it?
CLAIRE BERLINSKI: I wrote much of this book in 2007. Then, as now, Republican presidential candidates were eager to associate themselves with Margaret Thatcher’s name. Not long after I wrote the last sentence, the financial meltdown began. The global economy is now sunk in a deep, prolonged recession, one so severe in its effects that many are asking whether the Left has been right about free markets all along. Even I have been tempted to wonder. The United States now has the weakest job market since the Great Depression. Millions of potential workers have left the labor force since 2007. The duration of unemployment has risen to record lengths. Many Americans were stunned and humiliated by the credit downgrade, but the downgrade reflected the facts. In 2010 — for the first time — the United States fell from the ranks of the economically “free” to “mostly free,” according to the “Index of Economic Freedom.” There have been “notable decreases in financial freedom, monetary freedom, and property rights,” the report observed.
Turkey’s Marxist terrorists strike again—this time, against America.
4 February 2013
Americans seem surprised that the February 1 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, was carried out not by Islamists but by a Marxist—specifically, by a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, or DHKP/C. But no one in Turkey was remotely surprised.