Rules Are for Schmucks: The Turkish Model
Picture this: President Trump tires eventually of so-called judges telling him he cannot violate the so-called constitution. He tires even further of the babblers in Congress, some of whom are not even socially acceptable billionaires, refusing to pass his bills. So he whips up a little law called the “What I Say Goes Act” with the clever idea of a national plebiscite to put it into effect—the same trick that both Napoleon Bonaparte and his nephew Napoleon III played before declaring themselves emperors. (Not to mention that Hitler fellow, who staged his own power-enhancing plebiscite after the Reichstag fire.)
Several months before the plebiscite is to be held, Trump systematically begins arresting tens of thousands of political activist opponents, on suspicion of plotting against him. No walk of life is spared, but teachers and other government employees are heavily targeted. Forty thousand jailed altogether, plus another 120,000 suspended from employment. Whole government departments are shut down, while nearly three thousand uncooperative judges are suspended. Torture is routinely used to identify more suspects to round up. Six hundred private companies are seized by the state, 140,000 passports revoked, and sixty-five elected mayors ousted. Nearly a million Trump enemies are victimized by the purge, one way or another—plus another 370 human rights and children’s organizations suspected of harboring Trump opponents.
Evidence? That will come later … maybe. The key right now is to get folks off the street out of commission as organizers against the plebiscite, and paralyze anyone who might dare to take their places.
Still, that’s not enough to silence the “fake news” crowd in the press. They need a firm guiding hand. So, on some pretext or other, Trump sends in the goon squads and either shuts down or seizes control of the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and others that had ticked him off—170 news outlets in all. Serves ‘em right, Trump tweets.
Meanwhile, the president unleashes the state-subsidized churches (which will grow in number dramatically once the Trinity Lutheran case comes down), ordering them to focus on a simple message: God says to vote “Yes” on the plebiscite. Destroy the secularists dragging our country to hell, and give us back to God.
Trump is PR-savvy enough to channel foreign criticism of his power play to his benefit. Everyone in Europe who criticizes him, he dismisses as “grandchildren of the Nazis.” Not a lot of logic there, but he chuckles at hearing them try to deny it.
Still, come election day, none of this seems to be enough. The exit polling (or maybe even a little more accurate data than that) says it looks like a loss. Time to play the final card: the three million fraudulent ballots that can’t receive the legally required stamp because they’re, well, fraudulent. Which is a good thing because “Yes” only prevails (officially) by 1.4 million votes. The unstamped ballots, though, may be just the tip of the iceberg—independent observers report far-flung patterns of voter intimidation and fraud. Terrified, the nation’s courts refuse to listen to any challenges to the result. Election-day threats are fulfilled when thousands more people who didn’t vote the right way are arrested. Trump suggests that the expense of feeding all these thousands of new prisoners could be addressed by greatly expanding use of the death penalty.
The fact that Donald Trump didn’t really do all these things, while Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan actually did, can almost make you feel a little warmer toward our president, right? Especially when you consider that Turkey’s population is less than a fifth that of the United States, so to be comparable you should multiply all the numbers above by five.
At least it could, but for the fact that Trump was one the first world leaders to telephone Mr. Erdoğan, even before the appeals to his fraudulent “victory” were filed, to congratulate him on snuffing out democratic pluralism in one more corner of the world. And that Trump has now invited Erdoğan to come to Washington for a state visit. Looks like that half-million dollars Turkey slid across the table to Michael Flynn during Trump’s campaign is paying handsome dividends now.
Maybe our notoriously thin-skinned president invited Erdoğan here to get some pointers on dealing with criticism. Erdoğan has arrested over two thousand people, including foreign visitors and even a former Miss Turkey, simply for saying unkind things about him. (Note to travel agent: don’t book me a trip to Turkey any time soon.) He’s even pressured other countries (like Germany) to do the same thing—and to her shame, Angela Merkel caved in.
Erdoğan is an avowed enemy of the secular West. Just a month ago he explicitly threatened Europe, saying “the Holy Wars will soon begin” after the European Court of Justice ruled that employers had the right to choose to be neutrally secular, telling all their employees (not just the Muslims) to show up for work without wearing religious advertising. Erdoğan’s foreign minister adds that “Soon wars of religion may and will start in Europe.”
Erdoğan’s threats are not limited to a formal war, which he knows Turkey would lose. Instead, like a terrorist, he tries to frighten individuals leading their normal lives. “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets.” And if frightening Europeans won’t work, he has a Plan B: “Make not three, but five children” he encouraged Europe’s Muslims, as a form of revenge for European objections to his power grab. That’ll show ‘em.
Erdoğan’s Turkey is not our friend. It is our enemy. A confidential German government report last year even went so far as to conclude that Turkey is now “the central platform of action for Islamist groups.” NATO was founded to protect America and European democracies from bullies like him, not to prop them up. Turkey should be kicked out of NATO, right now, and be treated as a pariah among nations.