ANKARA: Perverted Sense Of Power

Zaman Online
July 16 2008

DOÄ~^U ERGÄ°L [email protected] Columnists

One really wonders how in the world a bunch of people get together
and decide that the country is going down the drain and that they have
the moral authority to stop it by staging a coup and to start running
the country contrary to popular will, the state of the economy and
the international conjuncture.

Are they bereft of intelligence or does their lust for power overwhelm
their intelligence? Whatever the case may be, it is a pathological
phenomenon and both military education and the Turkish political
culture have to be rapidly cleansed of the need and right to stage
coups whenever the system actually is or is perceived to be in entropy.

The military cadets must be raised with a sense of professionalism
just like the professionalism of other vocations. They must not be
inculcated with the feeling of sacrifice and that they are doing a
favor for their nation just by performing their duty. Lieutenants
graduating from the war academy must not be conditioned to act as
statesmen and "saviors," while being soldiers at the same time, as
they are today. Additionally, the nation must not be conditioned to see
the armed forces as the "triumphant cavalry" riding in to deliver the
nation from bad politicians when the political system falters. The
elite of this country must rapidly reach a consensus to rid the
popular culture of extra-legal interventions during times of crisis
and to stand up together against such assaults on the popular will.

The intellectual and political elite of this country have neglected to
perform a thorough analysis on what the reasons behind the entropy in
the system are. That is why they could not develop viable solutions to
problems that have lingered on for decades and become gangrenous. In
fact they wanted to draw dividends from political polarization. Due
to elite consensus on the principles of living together in peace
(pluralist democracy) and economic progress by increasing the
productive capacity of the workforce and efficient use of natural
resources, Turkey missed the progress that many countries achieved
in the 20th century and faces the danger of missing a part of the
present one. That is a pity because the country has never fallen under
the stultifying yoke of communism or theocracy. Thus there must be
substantial flaws in its legal and administrative system as well as
in the vision and deeds of its ruling elite, who uphold each other
in a tutelary system.

The Ergenekon case is a window on these flaws. A group of people whose
value is measured by their own egos have amassed to run the country
at will by relying on military power that they would provoke to bring
order to the chaotic country they want to create by assassinations
and mass murders. These are retired generals, academicians and
businessmen who have befriended leaders of organized crime gangs like
"nationalist mafia"! The ideology with which they try legitimize their
illegal actions is Kemalism (named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk). Any
student of Turkish politics knows that Kemalism is a combination
of nationalism, Westernism and authoritarian pragmatism. With the
assassination of Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon and
prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Ä°stanbul and
other crimes directed against foreigners and non-Muslim minorities,
the nationalism of this bunch has become a criminal affair rather
than an effort of exalting their nation. Due to their hatred for the
West, just because it stands for democracy and rule of law (their
worldview’s antithesis), they have dropped the Western orientation
of their ideology, further deviating from Kemalism. In fact in their
coded writings they have substituted the EU and the US for "coyote" and
"scorpion," which expose how alien they have become to the realities
they have been living in.

What remains is not even an ideology; it is sheer hunger for power and
lust for an authoritarian form of administration in khaki color. Their
pragmatism has no correspondence with either the realities of the
nation or of the contemporary world. In the absence of anything or
any group that would support them in their quest to run the country
in total disregard of its people, they fell into a schizoid state
of mind in which being saviors and criminality to come to power have
blended into each other.

Now that their caper is exposed and they face litigation, we will
observe whether the judiciary will judge them by their criminal actions
rather than view the case as an offensive defense of the Justice and
Development Party (AK Party) to prevent its closure. If the judiciary
demonstrates the maturity to distinguish the two phenomena, a giant
step will be taken toward establishing rule of law in this country.