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In Turkey, it’s all about the palace

Erdoğan's message to Turks: Vote correctly next time!

By Claire Berlinski and Okan Altiparmak, August 4, 2015

Don’t forget what’s really at stake for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

On December 17, 2013, the Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department of the Istanbul Security Directory detained 47 people, including a number of high-level officials. The sons of the minister of the Interior, the minister of Economy, and the minister of Urban Planning were implicated, as was Erdoğan’s own son, Bilal, with all three ministers handing in resignations.

Erdogan Isn’t Finished

The game isn’t over for Erdoğan and the AKP. Now would be a good time for the West to pay attention to what’s going on in Turkey.

The American Interest
June 22, 2015

The euphoria to which Turkey’s June 7 election results have given rise calls to mind an oncology ward patient learning that an experimental protocol might slow the advance of her tumor. The elation is warranted in rough proportion to the desperation of the situation. In other words, good news is, like most things, relative.

Don’t rejoice yet: Erdoğan could still win

Don’t rejoice yet: Erdoğan could still win

Forming a coalition in Turkey will be a nightmare, and the strongman has the trump cards., June 15, 2015

For 13 years, the escape routes from Turkey’s political haunted-house have been shutting one by one. Suffocation seemed inevitable. The June 7 election, which resulted in the first hung parliament since 1999, cracked open a tiny window in the attic. Turkey’s hope is now predicated upon an unlikely scenario: One in which every major political group exits from that window in an orderly fashion, even as the smoke is rising.

The Indian Century?

Education, entrepreneurialism, and democratic institutions bode well for the country’s future—but profound challenges remain.

City Journal

Spring 2015

I attended a dinner in Paris full of tech experts, scientists, and investors, all of whom were gloomy about the West. Progress isn’t progressing, they complained. There are too many impediments to innovation. What on earth has gone wrong with our universities? We once put a man on the moon, and now we can’t even figure out a humane way to fly from Silicon Valley to Paris. Everything’s overregulated. The Scientific Revolution is over; the Industrial Revolution has reached the end of the line. No one understands what made America great anymore. We haven’t conquered death, but taxes have conquered us. We’re doomed.

Enter Nick Booker-Soni, about 30, affable and rumpled, standing at the open window to smoke. I said that I lived in Istanbul. “Really? We visited last year.” The other half of the “we” was his wife, Meetu. “Truth is, we were a bit disappointed.” I expected him to mention the usual disappointments: traffic, perhaps, or tear gas. “Just not that much history there,” he said.

Not what I expected.

The News From Paris: It's Nice

Winter 2015

On returning to France after spending almost a decade in Turkey (and not long before the terrorist attacks of January), I discovered that the French—Parisians, in particular—have become surprisingly polite.

I now find myself living in a city in which the following things happen. A kindly Parisienne not only notices that I am mildly lost, but offers to help and insists upon walking with me, well out of her way, to be sure that I am on the right path. A Darty washing machine arrives on my doorstep, exactly on time, presented by deliverymen who seem to live for the privilege of service; without so much as a grumble, they whisk away my old and broken one, too, even though I live on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator. In leaving, they express gratitude with the words, “It is thanks to you, Madame, that we work, which we so much appreciate.” Granted, the waiter at my local café knows me, but usually someone so solicitous of my well-being, so radiantly affable, charges a hundred bucks an hour and proposes to talk about my childhood, not sell me a cup of coffee every now and again.

Paris Update or, “Who Should I Believe? You or My Lying Eyes?”

January 12, 2015

This post begins and ends with an apology for being guilty of what’s driving me nuts. The other day I wrote what turned out to be a very widely-circulated post in response to a headline I saw on the Drudge Report: “Every Jew I Know Has Left Paris,” which linked to a Daily Mail article attributing the quote to Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle. Now, who should have known better than to trust a sensational headline? Who should have thought, “Drudge and The Daily Mail may not have quoted Mr. Pollard properly? Perhaps I should check to be sure?”

Yep, that would be me.

Paris Is Worth a Mass

The American Interest
January 14, 2015

Is it right that Paris gets a mass rally while Boko Haram’s slaughter of thousands in Nigeria merits hardly a shrug? No. But it’s the response Paris and Nigeria both deserve. This is what civilization looks like.

Charlie Hebdo march proves Paris wouldn’t have the first clue how to become a proper police state

National Post
January 12, 2015

This morning high mass was celebrated at Notre Dame, an obvious terrorist target. There was no visible security around the cathedral at all.

Today was one of those cold and beautiful winter days in Paris that calls to mind a 19th Century painting by Caillebotte. The police had promised “extreme security measures” for the rally: 150 plainclothes officers, 20 teams of snipers, 56 motorcycle teams, and 24 mobile units. When I read this, I didn’t know whether to be moved or horrified. That is nothing—nothing—like what you need to protect a crowd of the predicted size from a determined group of terrorists. Particularly since their sleeper units—we have been told by the same authorities—may recently have been activated. It is deeply moving that Paris simply has no idea how to become a proper police state. And it also just as clear this city must learn what “extreme security” looks like—it doesn’t look like Paris; and it doesn’t look like this.

An Update From Paris: This Jew is Still Here, and She is Not Leaving

January 10, 2015

If you check the Drudge Report right now, you’ll see a screaming headline:


It links to an article in the Daily Mail. The claim was made by Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

Mr. Pollard, it is perhaps true that every Jew you know has left Paris. But it is clearly true that you do not know every Jew in Paris.

The Irreplaceable Staff of Charlie Hebdo

January 8, 2015

I’m a journalist but was only by chance in the vicinity of the massacre at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. I was en route to visit a friend. This took me past the paper’s office and thus put me at the heart of the bloodiest attack France has seen in the past 50 years.

On my approach, it was immediately obvious that there had been a massive terrorist attack. Such attacks have a characteristic signature. Swarms of ambulances. Police vehicles and mobile labs. Grim-faced cops. Crime-scene tape stretching for blocks. A very particular expression on the faces of dazed and bewildered onlookers.

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