Context Matters: Turkey After the Failed Coup

2 Aug





The legendary American pro-football coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, famously remarked when asked about his sports philosophy, “Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing.” In thinking about the Turkish failed coup I paraphrase Lombardi: “Context isn’t everything. It is the only thing.” Without an adequate depiction of context every inflamed political happening is twisted in its presentation to fit the preconceived notions of the commentator opening the way for endless polemics. I am aware that as ‘a commentator’ I am subject to the same standards that I apply to those with whom I disagree. By being attentive to context, at least there is added an important degree of transparency and even self-scrutiny, enabling others to evaluate the line of interpretation put forward.


The element of context that I wish to underscore is that of location: distinguishing the interpretation of the events in question by persons mostly inside or mostly outside Turkey. I have been struck in recent days by the extent to which friends, opinion piece writers, journalists, and politicians writing from outside of Turkey are preoccupied with what the Turkish government has done wrong since the coup, especially presenting the post-coup as an atmosphere where Erdoğan is opportunistically pursuing his authoritarian goals under the false banner of enhancing the security of the state.

In contrast, most friends and commentators inside Turkey, including those holding similar critical political views to the outsiders, emphasize the encouraging and generally responsible steps being taken by the government since of July 15th and the widely shared belief, including among strong Erdoğan critics, that this is a time for unity and a shared sense that the defeat of the attempted coup benefitted the whole of Turkish society.


Of course, these generalizations are nothing more than strong impressions. It is obvious that there are a wide range of insider and outsider accounts of the failed coup in both groups, including a considerable overlap, but at least from my limited angle of vision there differences worth noticing.


Writing from inside the country is one reason why I feel far more sympathetic with the real insiders, and believe that an essential difference is one of context with respect to location. Those outside, influenced especially by the domination of the political discourse by strident anti-Erdoğan, anti-AKP intellectuals and media in Europe and North America, devote almost all of their attention to post-coup abridgements of freedoms, the anti-democratic state of emergency, and to finding signs pointing to the further advancement of Erdoğan’s autocratic agenda by taking advantage of the surge of popular support for the government that is allegedly reinforced by the intimidation of oppositional viewpoints.


There is another feature underscoring the relevance of location, which results from greater familiarity with and proximity to the accused culprits, giving real meaning within Turkey to the political truism, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ The wide public acceptance of the allegation that the coup was both genuine and the work of the quasi-religious, secretive, and cultic movement led by Fetullah Gülen has created a willingness to give the benefit of the doubt with respect to most of the steps so far taken by the government. The international media has not reacted in a similar fashion. It has surrounded the attempted coup with a series of question marks. In particular, it has suggested that maybe the coup was undertaken by discontented secular elements in the Turkish armed forces rather than by Gülenist forces or FETÖ (Fetullahist Terror Organization).


Those inside, tend to take greater notice of Erdoğan’s apparent return to a pre-2011 more pragmatic and inclusive approach to governance during these two weeks since the coup attempt. During this period Erdoğan has also been leading the effort to eliminate from government and civil society those who actively support FETÖ. The risk of leaving many coup sympathizers in places of influence within the various bureaucracies of government is disturbing to many not otherwise supportive of AK Party (AKP; Justice and Development Party) leadership. It is to be expected that for the country’s elected leaders who were nearly assassinated the issue of purging government of suspects touches directly issues of personal survival. This immediate concern is often confused with longer range efforts to prevent the educational system from nurturing FETÖ loyalists, which helps explain the closing of all military high schools that had been a prime recruiting site for Fetullahists.


By and large, Erdoğan’s public demeanor of calmness since the coup attempt has also been reassuring to the general public here in Turkey. It goes along with his welcome decision to drop the numerous pending criminal cases underway to prosecute those accused of violating a Turkish law that prohibits insulting the president. Such charges should never have been initiated in a democratic society that values freedom of expression, but what is worthy of comment is that at a time when Erdoğan is being accused of using the stressed atmosphere as a cover for his autocratic designs, he signals this new willingness not to punish his political adversaries as he is permitted to do under Turkish law. This move has been explicitly welcomed by Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu, head of the Peoples Republican Party (CHP), the most prominent among those previously charged. Along a similar line is the rehabilitation of several prominent generals with known strong secular credentials, which seems part of this AKP unity platform to incorporate followers of Kemal Ataturk in the governing process, which if such a trend continues, is a major development.


Of course, considering the complexity and uncertainty of the post-coup reality, both insiders and outsiders are, at best, looking through ‘a glass darkly.’ There are many hidden factors, the situation is fluid, and there are appearances that could either vanish in a flash or become suddenly magnified. Aside from the Gülenist threat, the biggest internal problem facing Turkey is posed by the ongoing struggle with the large Kurdish minority, which may turn out to be the decisive test of whether these post-coup gestures of political unity evolve into a new and more hopeful form of political development for the country.


I believe insiders are also more aware of some troubling features that seem of less consequence to the West and the Turkish diaspora—that is, the popular mobilization that are nightly filling the city squares since the night of the coup attempt and will continue until August 7th. At first this show of wildly enthusiastic support for the nation and government, undoubtedly not anticipated by the coup leaders, is correctly regarded by Turkish public opinion as having played a major role in turning the tide of battle on the night of 15th. However, the daily continuation of these populist displays could tempt political leaders to engage in demagogic politics. If such an atmosphere persists it would likely lead to the abandonment of the tentative depolarizing steps taken to soften the religious/secular divide.


So far, an impressive dimension of the internal context is being established by the long dominant opposition party, CHP (Republican People’s Party), leading the way, with the backing of Erdoğan, toward exhibiting a post-coup consensus that contrasts with the toxic polarization that has characterized Turkish politics ever since the AKP prevailed in the 2002 elections. The Chair of the CHP, Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu commented in this spirit, saying his party’s “biggest wish’ was the continuation of this atmosphere of “reconciliation”: “Today an atmosphere of reconciliation and mutual listening has emerged in politics. My biggest wish is for the maintenance of this atmosphere. My second biggest wish is for the enlargement of a common ground.” Whether this mood lasts or not, such a statement is quite extraordinary against the background of unrelenting opposition by the CHP to every previous step taken by the Erdoğan led government over the course of many years. Erdoğan also deserves credit for fully joining this effort with symbolic and substantive steps, including inviting the CHP and the more rightest MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) to the presidential palace for joint discussions on future policy. The picture is not entirely encouraging as the Kurdish party, HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), although joining with the CHP and MHP in denouncing the coup attempt before the outcome of the struggle for control of the Turkish state was clearly known, did not receive an invitation to attend the meeting in his residence. Such an omission could be more innocently interpreted as an effort to find common ground among the three main political parties on how to address the Kurdish challenge given this altered set of national priorities, and this could be more effectively done with the HDP representative absent.


This fragile collaborative tendency does not imply a willingness of the opposition to accept Erdoğan’s approach or even the absence of sharp policy disagreements with respect to such coup related issues as disputes about the application of due process to those accused of Gülenist complicity and affiliations or AKP-led encouragement of the restoration of capital punishment. There are serious criticisms being made of the way some journalists who wrote for Gülenist media have been arrested, mistreated, and charged. Also there are a variety of protests objecting to the dismissals of large number of academicians, dismissed from their jobs in ways likely to harm their career and impose material hardship. These developments are unacceptable and should be opposed, but criticism to be persuasive within the country needs to be contextualized by reference to the intense anxieties raised by the attempted coup and a preoccupation with how to guard against a second attempt.


It is helpful for these critics to recall reliance on torture of suspects and detention of Muslims in the United States after 9/11, the establishment of the notorious Guantanamo detention center to imprison Al Qaeda suspects many of whom turned out to be innocent, and the shocking Abu Ghraib prison abuses. These unfortunate developments occurred in reaction to an extremely threatening national experience by the world’s most admired and militarily strongest constitutional democracy. As these events unfolded after the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, the United States was rarely censured by the international media for these encroachments on human rights, but was mainly treated as having endured provocations on such a scale as to justify a temporary suspension of judgment until months later when spectacular abuse became known to the public.


This temporary mellowing of domestic politics in Turkey reflects a provisional, substantively significant, inter-party consensus. This is an unexpected reaction to the coup attempt is a reflection of the overall acceptance of the official Ankara version of the July 15th events. Accusing Gülenists is now widely accepted and obsessively discussed across the political spectrum within the country, including the particularly the sinister role played by those called ‘putschists’ in mounting their violent challenge to governance by a fairly elected leadership. This violence included the killing of unarmed Turkish civilians and the bombing of the Turkish Parliament building. Prior Turkish coups had been deftly executed and were relatively bloodless so far as the general population was concerned, despite being harshly vindictive toward displaced leaders and their supporters during the post-coup aftermath. As in 1960 when the elected prime minister, Adnan Menderes was publically hanged, and large numbers imprisoned, dismissed from their jobs, and executed. Or in 1980 when university faculties were purged, numerous journalists imprisoned, and thousands lost public sector jobs. Despite these excesses the international outcry in reaction to past Turkish coups was muted, even sympathetic, due to the geopolitical and ideological context. Since the post-coup targets of repression were concentrated on the secular left it was in keeping with Cold War priorities championed by the US Government. In effect, geopolical context matters as much as or more than the location of the observer. In this regard, it is instructive to compare the cascade of post-July 15 criticism and scrutiny that has been directed at Turkey with the soft international landing given to the 2013 Sisi coup in Egypt, which was not even called a coup by Washington, despite its seizure of power from elected leaders, exceptionally bloody aftermath. In Egypt as was the case for Turkey in 1980 there were several strong political reasons to welcome the results and forego complaints.



In relation to Turkey, despite the complex challenge directed at the Erdoğan leadership after the failed coup, Europeans and American public figures have been quick to express their criticisms and admonitions in isolation from their Turkish post-coup context. Federica Mogherini, the current EU official responsible for foreign policy, condescendingly urging restraint upon the Turkish government, insisting that Turkey be held responsible if it exceeds ‘proportionate’ post-coup responses, whatever that might mean. Did the EU issue any cautionary response when France declared a state of emergency after the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015 and extended it in response to the mid-July truck massacre in Nice? This posture of moral tutelage directed at Turkey is definitely an expression of a colonialist mentality that continues to bias Euro-American thinking about Turkish political realities.


There are a variety of well intentioned civil society petitions being circulated abroad, warnings issued, including calls for the suspension of EU accession negotiations. Some in the West have even urged the suspension of Turkey from NATO membership in view of alleged human rights infringements during the post-coup period. Some responses in the West are so wildly exaggerated as to be suspect. Consider the outburst by Tom Brake, the foreign affairs spokesperson of the Liberal Democrat Party in the UK. Brake argued that the wave of arrests in Turkey “should send shivers down the spine of any person who believes in a free and open society.” “Erdoğan’s ongoing purge of newspapers, academics, teachers and judges has nothing to do with Turkey’s security and everything to do with blocking opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule.” Again it is helpful to wonder why the much worse crackdown after the Egyptian coup of three years ago received so little critical attention and the Turkish reaction to a truly frightening challenge to the political system has been so harshly judged.


It is no doubt useful and constructive in this period to express cautionary concerns about controversial initiatives taken by the Turkish government, and specifically, Erdoğan, in this post-coup period, while at the same time showing sensitivity to the urgent necessity for the government to restore security for the public and to rebuild confidence in relation to the armed forces, intelligence, judiciary, the police. Such a nuanced viewpoint is admirably contextualed by Mustafa Akyol, among others. In a column published in the Hürriet Daily News, July 30-31, 2016 Akyol couples an appropriate tone of sensitivity to the need for action against those suspected of potentially harmful associations with the Gülen movement with critical comments focused on the extension of punitive action to Gülen sympathizers, including journalists and academics, who pose no plausible threat. Akyol is a credible observer of the present scene partly because he was such a high profile critic of Erdoğan’s leadership. He is an internationally known commentator on Turkish developments who is as a regular contributor to the opinion pages of the New York Times. Akyol incidentally strongly endorses the view that the weight of the evidence supports blaming the coup attempt on the Gülenists, and their leader.


Here again, context matters. Turkey is confronted by a situation where it is nearly impossible to distinguish reliably between friends and enemies, and where the failure to do so could in the future make the difference between life and death for individuals and could possibly close down the democratic governing process in Turkey altogether. There remains much concern that a second coup attempt could be soon organized by Gülenist forces responsible for the July 15th attempt who are still believed here to retain their positions within the Turkish governmental machinery. If you are worried along these lines, you are likely to act more vigorously than if you don’t.


To invoke a bit of folk wisdom, ‘it doesn’t matter where you look, it’s what you see.” The Turkish post-coup context that I am experiencing makes me generally sympathetic with the efforts of the government and its leadership as part of its security policy to move toward a more inclusive democracy than existed during the last five years. If this development is sustained it will diminish the paralyzing effects of polarization that has prevented Turkey from achieving its political and economic potential nationally and internationally during the last decade or so.


It is yet to be seen whether the US Government can absolve itself from a widely suspected involvement with the Gülenists and their plots, and what this will mean for Turkey internally, regionally, and in relation to the European Union and NATO. The visit of the American Chief of Staff, his pledge of American solidarity with the Turkish government, although belated, at least recognizes the importance of correcting the belief here in Turkey that the US was directly or indirectly supportive of the July 15th attempt.


All in all, valuing context matters greatly when it comes to assessing Turkish reactions to the failed coup. Considering context is one way of trying to see as ‘the other’ sees. At this post-traumatic moment of political reconstruction Turkey deserves sympathy from the outside while it is seeking to maximize unity on the inside, and as the process proceeds, constructively encourage the leadership to correct some early reflexive moves taken in the name of internal security that could otherwise unjustly damage the life experience of many individuals and do great damage to the international reputation of the country. There exists a crucial challenge posed by the resumption of open warfare in the Kurdish region, and the importance of reviving a peace process that seeks inter-ethnic accommodation. Part of the prescribed contextualization, given Turkish realities, is to avoid premature international appraisals, admit underlying uncertainties, and allow enough imaginative space to enable a hopeful future for Turkey.                                

25 Responses to “Context Matters: Turkey After the Failed Coup”

  1. Gene Schulman August 2, 2016 at 12:17 pm #


    This latest post with your view from the inside is most welcome. You have explained many things that those of us on the outside, and with little knowledge of Turkey’s political situation except for what we get from the Western MSM would not otherwise have. It is good to have a trusted friend with long experience embedded on the ground informing us.

    One question that you did not address is the new relationship of Turkey with Russia. Given the current US and NATO menacing of Russia, rightly or wrongly, depending on one’s perceptions, does this affect its relations with the US and Israel?

    Anyhow, your post offers an objective view, and should help others to understand better what is happening. Thanks.

    Hope you are well and safe.

  2. jonpiasente August 2, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    Thank you for this detailed piece on events in Turkey. I’m always interested in how human rights advocates are able to rationalise abuses of power. This smacks of blatant pro-Erdogan bias – one would expect any genuine treatment of context to include mention of the corruption scandal, which largely explains international scepticism of the ‘political threat’ Erdogan is protecting himself against by closing down media outlets and imprisoning journalists. International observers are focused on the purge following the coup, because they were focused on it *before* the coup. Genuine treatment of context really ought to involve some mention that these measures began long before the events of July 15. Before a single life was conceivably lost by this so called FETO, you had a government absurdly labelling a non-violent civil movement as ‘terrorist’, while providing material support to ISIS:
    This is the context informing international condemnation and scepticism of Erdogan’s motives. International observers look at pieces such as this, and assume you’re either an AKP mouthpiece, or being censored. Why else would you fail to mention the most pertinent and salient issues informing justified criticisms of AKP/Erdogan? Why else would you highlight differences in perspectives, without discussing print and social media crackdowns, which inform those perspectives? Looking forward to your next piece, and still hoping for some eventual balance and objectivity.

    • Richard Falk August 2, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      You are quite right about mentioning the corruption crisis of 2013, and I agree that my
      failure to mention it is appropriate to mention. From the insider perspective, including those
      critical of Erdogan, it is rarely seen as relevant to the recent coup attempt. In fact, it is
      attributed in retrospect to Gulenist efforts to destabilize the government, sometimes referred to
      as ‘the corruption coup attempt.’ I can assure you that I am neither censored nor linked in any
      way to the AKP leadership.

    • Laurie Knightly August 3, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

      The ‘authorities’ cited here by jonpiasente are from American Enterprise Institute and fellow organization Project New American Century – John Bolton, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Yoo et al. The AIE gave its highest honor to Netanjahu last year. So this represents balance and objectivity? I rest my case…….

      • Richard Falk August 4, 2016 at 12:25 am #

        I suspected as much. You must have meant ‘William Kristol’ not his deceased father who can be considered
        a founder of the neocon movement, and was one mean person (as many ex-left turned out to be in the Cold
        War era, especially after Israel established.). Richard

      • Laurie Knightly August 4, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

        My reference to Irving Kristol as member of AEI should have stated instead Wm Kristol per Richard’s correction. I think, however, that Irving could gain a membership posthumously. The Irving Kristol award given to Netanyahu last year is described as follows:

        The Irivng Kristol award is the highest honor conferred by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. The award is given for ‘notable intellectual or practical contributions to improved public policy and social welfare’ and named in honor of Irving Kristol.

        According to Christopher DeMuth, “In our 60 years of labors, no one has had a more profound influence on AEI than Iriving Kristol………”

        DeMuth’s assessment seems accurate as does Richard’s notings.


      • jonpiasente August 26, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

        Hi Laurie, point taken on the source, however unless the factual claims are countered, your response is ad hominem.

        Richard: I would appreciate it if you didn’t censor my replies. I have a very long standing admiration for your work, and appreciate the time and effort you have put into analysing and sharing your thoughts on a variety of issues. Your thoughts on Turkey are insightful and I understand your intent is to counteract an opposing narrative, but in doing so I feel you are being overly critical of a broadly positive movement, and your bias is clear when you cannot mention a single positive aspect, or the guilt by association, McCarthy-esque witch hunt that is taking place against it (unless I have missed it, I am not able to read all of your work). I want to apologise for the knee-jerk, disrespectful tone of my earlier comments, and for not having the time to address this issue in more detail and with more care (I am a new father and undertaking unrelated masters coursework). I am an Australian Muslim with friends on both sides of this divide. Please contribute to a more balanced treatment of this issue. You have done so by carefully outlining the perspective of Erdogan and AKP. Please consider doing the same for the decent, sincere, innocent people who are suffering on the other side. I wish you all the very best. Kendine iyi bak.

  3. Beau Oolayforos August 2, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    This is what many of us, I think, have been waiting for – a calm, balanced assessment of the state of affairs in Turkey. That you seem cautiously optimistic is a huge bonus, since most MSM accounts fill one with fear and foreboding, I, for one, have always appreciated the way in which you put important issues into context, so….thanks again.

  4. Laurie Knightly August 3, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    Certainly the word ‘context’ is vital when attempting any analysis of the situation in Turkey. Often a single context variable will disproportionately affect one’s judgment henceforth. In a preceding essay, there was a presumed assumption that a wealthy attractive woman would not be displeased with the government – if I understand Richard correctly. It is not unusual, however, for persons with considerable affluence to be dedicated to social causes. Perhaps, like me, she considered the new 1,100 room Erdogan presidential palace, reportedly 30X larger than the White House, to be upsetting. Maybe the US nuclear stockpiles/Incirlik? The aspirations of the Kurds and their foreign support? The tribal wars and loyalties, the move away from secular government when Islam forbids women to look attractive and conspicuous in public? Of course, this does not mean that the woman might have simply resented not being invited to the palace for tea. Who knows?

    Learning of the Gulen Movement in the US has been an education for me. It’s much more than this saintly fellow in harmless meditation. We have 140 Gulen charter schools [Harmony] which claim no direct connection to the movement and receive both US govt funding and foreign support. This deserves quite a bit of research. Context seems endless.

    The Christian Science Monitor released 2 articles recently on the Gulen Movement. Here are a few qoutes:

    “In an apparent reference to Gulen’s followers, Erdogan has denounced those he says are seeking to create a ‘state within a state.’ In turn Gulen released a furious sermon posted on line cursing those he accused of obstructing the graft investigation – a reference to Erdogan – and asking God to ‘bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unities…..” [ Perhaps asking God and not followers absolves him? Hmmm]

    Leaked video footage from Gulen sermon 1999:
    ” ‘You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers’ he said. ‘You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey.” [This concept can be traced to Sayyid Qutb – maybe earlier]

    Very recent from CSM: Title: Why Erdogan despite bluster, may actually not want Gulen extradition. A quote, ” Yet despite Turkey’s sharp rhetoric and the formal extradition request for Gulen, some wonder if Erdogan might prefer that his rival remain in the US as a convenient scapegoat – and not risk whipping up his considerable support by returning him to Turkey.”

    And lastly, I am suspicious of why the Turkey/Armenian genocide accusation a century later. There was neither a crime labeled ‘genocide’ nor a Republic of Turkey in its present form at that time. The post-war Ottoman govt found the Young Turks guilty and the party as a whole was indicted for the crimes of conspiracy and massacre. Also, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation caught/killed those Ittihadist leaders hiding in Italy and Germany. Because war crimes have varied punishments, particularly reparations, these designations have dire implications. It’s hardly fair to hold governments responsible for the actions of groups in a state of coup and not under their control – especially 100 years hence.

    Thanks again Richard for keeping us informed/challenged/dedicated. Please extend your longevity in excess of data projections. We need you here…………

    • Beau Oolayforos August 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

      Dear Ms Knightly,

      Your notes are interesting and challenging, but please beware the CSM – their heads are at least half buried in something or other.

      • Laurie Knightly August 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

        Re: Christian Science Monitor Yes, I should have included the codicil – ‘if accurate’. It did seem congruent, however, with what is taking place. I have had reason to question/fault them in the past with their opinion pieces.

    • Richard Falk August 4, 2016 at 12:32 am #

      As usual, Laurie, you bring deep awareness to bear in illuminating ways. And coming from you, your concluding
      words help sustain my perseverance. I agree also with your assessment of the Armenian insistence on a Turkish
      admission of genocide before the word even existed. Greetings from Yalikavak!

  5. Al August 3, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

    Prof Falk, thanks a lot for this realistic and balanced perspective during what is after all, a far greater political and democratic crisis than most western countries have experienced since WW2. I can hardly imagine what the US response to a domestic elite faction that commandeered military regiments and attacked the Senate or White House would be. As you say, Erdogans crackdown on all institutions and public AKP demonstrations has to be seen in such a context. Turkey is in a self-wrought political crisis with huge
    constitutional (erdogan’s autocratic takeover in the past decade)
    domestic (gulenist/kurdish/kemalist),
    financial (looming debt/investment/currency crisis amid investor flight)
    and intl. ramifications(Syria’s implosion and refugee crisis vis a vis EU). Unfortunately, all of these causes have huge security consequences and autocrats are far more likely to get away with purges and repression by claiming an exaggerated threat to physical security.

    In this fevered situation, cautious realism both within and outside the country is hugely necessary
    (for financial crisis see
    for gulenists tangled relationship (read tacit support) with the US see Dani rodrik’s summary

    • Richard Falk August 4, 2016 at 12:18 am #

      Thanks for a very valuable insightful comment, and the two linked articles. I found the Rodrik piece
      especially illuminating.

  6. Gene Schulman August 4, 2016 at 12:55 am #

    This link refers to the question I asked above about Turkey’s rapproachment with Russia, and the possibility of US/CIA involvement in the coup attempt. I don’t know how reliable this web site is, but Engdahl seems to have a reasonable reputation. Is there much more behind all this than can be seen on the surface, as Laurie so prudently points out?

    • Richard Falk August 4, 2016 at 2:20 am #

      Gene: I find this interview to be a bit strained, and over definite in its attribution of the coup to be
      responsive to CIA moves contra Erdogan’s seeming geopolitical shift, and especially the remark that Israel
      and US are pursuing antagonistic policies in the Middle East. There are geopolitical dimensions to be sure
      but their clarity is more elusive, I feel. I keep recommending Peter Dale Scott’s writing on the American
      deep state for a stimulating overview. Greetings, Richard

      • Gene Schulman August 4, 2016 at 5:19 am #


        I certainly agree with you on the relevance of Scott’s book. I would suggest your readers who are not familiar with it check it out on Amazon. There is certainly much more going on with America’s policies than meet the eye.

      • Richard Falk August 4, 2016 at 9:59 am #

        Peter Scott is a good friend, a fine poet, and was a very revered professor at Berkeley
        until his retirement, but continues to produce significant work.

  7. Ceylan August 6, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    Dear Richard,

    You are an incurable optimist: I hope you’ll spend more time in Turkey to contaminate my feelings 🙂

    BTW: AKP does not stand for “PEACE” and Development Party” it is “Justice and Development Party”. Not that it makes much difference since they don’t have much to do with either, PEACE or justice.

    You may be aware but for your readers: Dani Rodrik is the son in law of (force) retired General Cetin Dogan who was convicted & sentenced for life during Sledgehammer case.


    • Richard Falk August 6, 2016 at 10:55 am #

      Dear Ceylan:

      We so much enjoyed our day with you. Thanks for catching my awkward mistake re AKP, and yes I was aware of Dani
      Roderick’s family connection with General Dogan. His assessment of the US involvement in the events of July 15th
      seems as perceptive as is possible on the basis of open sources. I think of myself as ‘a curable optimist’; if
      Erdogan moves from the kind of majoritarian democracy he pursued in the period of 2010-2015 to a third phase (partially
      a return to phase 1) of more inclusive and pragmatic democracy we should all be ready to celebrate the results; this
      inclusiveness may include a revisiting with AKP approval of the Ataturk legacy. Let’s give hope a chance. Love, Richard

  8. Death to Assad's enemies August 6, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    For impostors who pose as ‘progressives’!!!!

    Toppling the Syrian regime was part of a plan adopted shortly after 9/11

    According to a memo disclosed by 4-star General Wesley Clark, shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon adopted a plan to topple the governments of seven countries within five years. The countries were Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Iran.

    As we know, Iraq was invaded in 2003. American ally Israel tried its hand at taking out Lebanon in 2006. Libya was destroyed in 2011. Prior to this intervention, Libya had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa. In 2015, alone, it dropped 27 places on the U.N. Human Development Index rating. U.S. drones fly over Somalia, U.S. troops are stationed in South Sudan — Sudan was partitioned following a brutal civil war — and Syria has been the scene of a deadly war since 2011. This leaves only Iran, which is discussed below

  9. Gene Keyes August 8, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    Hi Richard,

    I get the impression that “FETÖ” as a word is equivalent to “Viet Cong”, each a derogatory name applied by the government of the day, and certainly not a self-description of the Gülen movement.

    • Richard Falk August 9, 2016 at 9:42 am #


      I tried to respond via the Transcend posting. I will refrain in the future from using FETO for the Gulen or Kismet movement,
      but I do not accept the equivalence. From what I know as a result of my presence here in Turkey, and a wide circle of contacts,
      this movement is a secret cultic organization that has been penetrating all sectors of the Turkish state and civil society in
      illicit ways for 40 years, including giving exam answers in advance to qualifying exams in various fields. The Vietcong, or NLF,
      was a genuine expression of a national movement for liberation of their country from colonial and post-colonial rule.

      • Gene Keyes August 10, 2016 at 8:23 am #

        Thanks for your reply. I’m not a Turkey expert, and was bemused at the notion of a political group calling itself “terrorist” a la SPECTRE in James Bond. Not even Daesh, or Black Hand, or Sinn Fein, have done that. —Gene

      • Richard Falk August 10, 2016 at 11:04 am #

        The name FETO has only been used by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the coup, and never
        by the Hizmet movement itself, which utterly denies any relationship with terroristic politics or
        for that matter the use of force for political ends. Greetings, Richard

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