FIRST POST, November 24, 2008
In the winter fog, the minarets of Istanbul’s Ottoman skyline fade slightly into the sky. The streets turn slick and oily, and the Bosphorus smells powerfully of charcoal, fish, lignite, and oil from the tankers. These massive ships are constantly pulling under the city’s massive concrete bridges, the massiveness of everything suggesting the waterway’s critical geostrategic significance.
Continue reading Dangerous Waters
LEFT IN DARK TIMES: A STAND AGAINST THE NEW BARBARISM
Bernard-Henri Lévy, Random House, 233 pp., US$ 25.00a
December 15, 2008
A curious thing happened as I was reading Bernard-Henri Lévy’s latest book: I found myself moved.
It begins with an account of a phone call from Nicolas Sarkozy in March, 2007. Lévy recalls Sarkozy’s triumphant tone as he asked whether Lévy had seen André Glucksman’s article in Le Monde.
Continue reading LEFT BEHIND
26 January 2010
Americans with relatives in the earthquake-ravaged country can’t even get our bureaucrats on the phone.
To judge from the State Department’s response to the earthquake in Haiti, our government has not learned the obvious lessons about disaster preparation that it should have after September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. I know, unfortunately, because my family was in Port-au-Prince, where my sister-in-law worked for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Her father,
Continue reading THE STATE DEPARTMENT: UNREADY ON HAITI
Following the deadly Schiphol air crash, Turkish Airlines faces questions about its safety standards.
March 12, 2009
On the morning of February 25, Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 from Istanbul crashed short of the runway at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, killing nine passengers and crew.
Continue reading Islam and the Art of Aircraft Maintenance
MAY 3, 2009
If reading the news prompts you to suspect that the apocalypse is at hand, keep in mind that good news doesn’t sell and that journalists need to make a living. Editors prefer the headline PROTESTS MARRED BY VIOLENCE to the headline PROTESTS REALLY QUITE BORING. Sometimes, however, a boring protest is an important story. Istanbul’s May Day celebrations were generally peaceful and cheerful this year—for the first time since 1977, when 37 people were shot or trampled to death in Taksim Square, the city’s busy consumer center, helping pave the way for the 1980 military overthrow of Turkey’s civilian government. Nonetheless, if you read the news reports, you would have concluded that this year, too, Istanbul’s streets ran red with blood in an orgy of left-wing agitation and police brutality.
Continue reading Istanbul’s May Day Protests Really Quite Boring
What it was like to be an American in France in the aftermath of 9/11
9 September 2011
I was in Paris, alone. My father was in Washington, D.C., with his parents. After seeing the images on television, my grandfather, already ill, collapsed. My memories of September 11 are bound up inextricably with my grandfather’s death.
My grandparents were musicians, refugees from the Nazis. They fled to Paris from their native Leipzig in 1933. From my grandfather’s memoirs:
Continue reading The View From Abroad
CONTINUED FROM PART I
Although many note the explosion of corruption during the Özal years, the mentality that led to this state of affairs can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire. Bribery was not, of course, a uniquely Ottoman tradition, and in fact the early Ottoman sultans were known for their intolerance of corruption. But the later ones were not. This is chronicled by Ottoman historian Halil İnalcık in An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire:
Continue reading EVERYBODY KNOWS, BUT NOBODY KNOWS, PART II
RADIO FREE EUROPE
July 08, 2009
Very few people in Turkey are exercised by the YouTube blackout, now in its second year. Despite the ban, the video-sharing site is believed to be the ninth most popular site in Turkey. Almost every Internet user — from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the humblest teenage porn connoisseur — knows how to circumvent it with proxy browsers. “I get in,” Erdogan told reporters in November, 2008. “You can do so as well.”
Continue reading Turkey’s YouTube Ban Is Cause For Concern
Sunday, August 9, 2009
REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN EUROPE
Immigration, Islam, and the West
By Christopher Caldwell
Doubleday. 422 pp. $30
“Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” — an allusion to Burke — is the latest in a series of pessimistic books, my own included, treating the conflict between post-Christian Europe and a resurgent Islam. Christopher Caldwell, an editor of the Weekly Standard and contributor to the Financial Times, makes arguments that have been made elsewhere: Mass immigration has changed Europe’s demography and is rapidly changing its culture. Many immigrants to Europe have failed to assimilate; many retain or have developed an Islamic identity antithetical to liberal European values.
Continue reading Make Way For the New Europeans
In Turkey, alleged terrorism requires a brand-new vocabulary.
3 January 2012
George Orwell’s greatest act of genius was the invention of Newspeak, the official language of Oceania, devised to meet the ideological needs of “Ingsoc,” or English Socialism. Explaining the nature of a mass trial in Turkey likewise requires the construction of a language all its own.
Continue reading Subtergenekon and Other Crimes