Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Turkey takes steps to subordinate its military

Turkey has arrested military officers, apparently the culmination of an investigation that began in 2003 of plans to overthrow the civilian government. Military organizations draw contingency plans. The US, according to rumor, has a plan to invade Canada. The point is that a US invasion of Canada is not going to happen, but that does not mean the military has not drawn up a plan just in case. But the US military does not have a plan to replace the US president.

Turkey's military has seen itself historically has having, as a last resort, the responsibility to oversee Turkey's civilian government. Turkey's military very likely did have contingency plans to replace the government. My take on the recent arrests is that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom I consider possibly the best politician in the world right now, is asserting on behalf of Turkey's civilian government that replacing the civilian government is no longer even a contingency to be contemplated by the military.

There is no reason to think that there had been an imminent coup, or that the military had even been actively disloyal during the course of the investigation. The arrests are more a symbolic statement that the military is, from now on, going to relinquish its conception of itself as having the responsibility or ability to take control from a civilian government it disagrees with.

With that point made clearly now, I don't think this issue has much further to go. Those who have been arrested will be given trials, depending on the wording of the laws and the talent of the legal representatives, verdicts of guilty or not guilty will be reached. But society in Turkey will continue with more clarity that Erdogan's party, AKP, can only be removed from office by Turkey's voters.

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