Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Turkey’s Two Thugs

Erdoğan and Gülen are both dangerous—but only one of them lives in the Poconos.

City Journal
23 December 2014

Until recently, I lived in Turkey. It seemed to me then unfathomable that most Americans did not recognize the name Fethullah Gülen. Even those vaguely aware of him did not find it perplexing that a Turkish preacher, billionaire, and head of a multinational media and business empire—a man of immense power in Turkey and sinister repute—had set up shop in Pennsylvania and become a big player in the American charter school scene.

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Notes on the Turkish Troubles

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.

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Vientiane Times: A Sojourn Among the Development Workers

The National Review, October 1997

AN ENGINEER I met in Vientane told me that development workers always arrived in Laos with high hopes. After a year they would sink into a funk, but after another year, they would make their peace with the country. They would learn to play a terrific game of tennis.

I had come to Laos to work for the United Nations Development Programme. Created between France’s defeat at Dien Bien Phu and Britain’s withdrawal east of the Suez,

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Erdoğan’s Miracle Reprieve

July 9, 2013

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.

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How to Read Today’s Unbelievably Bad News

August 20, 2012

An unshocking admission: I’ve made some ungodly-embarrassing retraction-worthy journalistic mistakes over the course of my career. Almost every journalist does. It’s hard to write about complex events at once quickly, without boring your readers witless, and without making mistakes. One example in particular embarrasses me; I’ll share it with you at the end of this piece.

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Turkey must act to avert an earthquake tragedy

July 27, 2009

Almost 10 years ago exactly, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Turkey, killing as many as 40,000 people. Thousands were crushed in their beds when their buildings, such as the one pictured above in Kaynasli, collapsed.

An outcry ensued over the shoddy construction material, loose building codes and widespread corruption among licensing officials: these were correctly blamed for the high death toll.

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The Gezi Diaries

Published in abridged form in The Tower
June 2013

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.

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December 2008

Atatürk’s victory over the Entente powers was complete and irreversible, but if contemporary critics of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish acronym, AKP) are correct, his victory over the retrograde forces of religion is not. Recently, the AKP’s attempt to lift a 1989 prohibition on headscarves in Turkish universities prompted a constitutional crisis.



November 3, 2009


ISTANBUL Some of the writers who gathered on Tuesday evening to read selections from their work at the D& R bookstore on Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul’s main pedestrian boulevard, had trouble understanding one another. The reading was one of dozens of events held city-wide as part of the four-day long, inaugural Tanpınar Literature Festival, organized by Istanbul’s Kalem literary agency.

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Can Sarah Palin style herself as Thatcher’s second coming?

Both attractive women from Nowhere Fancy exploited their femininity. But only one could command an interview.

The Guardian
15 June 2010

Visiting Margaret Thatcher is a traditional rite among Republican presidential aspirants – Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney all pitched up on her doorstep in 2008. But Sarah Palin, who announced on her Facebook site this week that she hopes to secure a meeting with “one of my political heroines, the ‘Iron Lady’,” has a more obvious claim to be Thatcher’s heir. She’s an attractive woman from Nowhere Fancy, just as Thatcher was, and snobs deplore her for it, just as they deplored Thatcher.

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