George Friedman Optimistic On Recent Arrests in Turkey

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The arrests last week in Turkey of 51 past and present military chiefs must be understood in the context of the divide between the ruling (moderately Islamist) Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the traditionally politically powerful and staunchly secular military establishment.
Since 2007, the AKP government has been conducting a series of investigations into a variety of illegal activities by current and former military officials – including plots to overthrow the government.
On the surface, last week’s arrests appear to be an escalation of Turkey’s historical conflict between the religiously oriented government and the secular establishment. However, there is another possibility.
That is that recent events present an historical opportunity for the government to use the arrests as leverage to reach a broad accommodation with the military that would allow the government to move forward with difficult reforms. The government’s decision on Thursday to release two of the most senior officials it arrested earlier in the week offered evidence to support this sanguine interpretation.
STRATFOR Founder George Friedman expresses this optimistic view in the clip above. Friedman notes that Turkish President Abdullah Gul (who is part of the religious AKP party) convened a meeting yesterday of his AKP counterpart Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan and Turkey Army Chief of Staff General Ilker Basbug.
I tend to agree with World Politics Review Editor Judah Grunstien, who observes that the arrests are “something of a Rorschach test for analysts and observers.”
Friedman is on the record as very bullish on Turkey – and he underscores his perspective in the clip above when he notes that Turkey’s rising economic strength and diplomatic clout may make it strong enough to prosper without membership in the European Union.
While I am also optimistic about Turkey’s long-term prospects, I think that Friedman may be under-emphasizing both Turkey’s deeply rooted internal problems and the European Union’s capacity to alleviate those problems and solidify its liberal reforms.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

41 comments on “George Friedman Optimistic On Recent Arrests in Turkey

  1. nadine says:

    JohnH, do you know nothing of the history of Iran? Iran’s meek peacefulness would certainly be news to the non-Persian half of its citizens, who descend from conquered peoples. It would also be news to the Russians and the Turks, who have fought a series of border wars with Persia over the last few centuries. Iran may not have the military to stand up to a new Russian-Persian war, but it doesn’t need to.
    Iran has got 80 million people in it. With nukes at its back, it has all the army it needs to cow the Arabs. Besides Iraq, there is not one Arab army that can really do more than make parades and keep its own people in line.
    Iran doesn’t have to defeat Russia or Turkey. Just the Arabs. If the Arabs lose our protection, Iran can handle the situation to its own advantage. It won’t have to fire a shot.

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  2. JohnH says:

    Nadine’s imagination never fails to run wild, conjuring up visions of Iranian forces taking over the Middle East. FYI, Nadine, Iranian forces could barely defend Iran against Saddam Hussein. And Iran has not invaded anyone for hundreds of years.
    Nadine’s blind faith that Iran is certain to become a Hitler-like force, despite its paltry military budget, never ceases to amaze.
    I would still like someone to define the substantive issue that is the basis for the US taking a confrontational approach towards Iran.

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  3. nadine says:

    JohnH, your faith that we are the only aggressors on the planet, which is otherwise inhabited by our innocent aggrieved victims, never fails to amaze.
    Sure, why don’t we just pull out of the Persian Gulf entirely, and hand it all to Iran as a good-bye present? Tell all the Arabs they were fools to ever ally themselves with us. They must go sue for peace in Tehran. Watch Iran begin closing the Straights of Iran so that oil shoots up to $200 a barrel and solves Iran’s financial problems. Watch the Sunnis be driven out of Iraq as Iran extends the Shia crescent. Watch Iran take over the Shia Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia with all their oil.

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  4. Carroll says:

    Posted by JohnH, Mar 02 2010, 3:24PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    I would go even further. We should offer Iran a signed and sealed formal alliance deal..with conditions of course.
    We should be doing this all over the ME..bringing everyone under the tent.
    This way before disputes went hot there would be a chance of some group arbitration with the US alliances as the common denominator.

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  5. JohnH says:

    A great point was raised over at raceforiran[dot]com.
    Instead of a grand bargain, why doesn’t the US simply do something achievable–stop the confrontational position towards Iran?
    American reasons for belligerency have shifted over the years, so there doesn’t seem to be any substantial issue animating the belligerency. (Reminds me of the constantly shifting false pretenses for occupying Iraq.) So what is the point of it all? (Reminiscent of the pointlessness of Afghanistan.)
    If the US would simply back off, America would soon be doing business with Iran, like it does with Vietnam, an arch-enemy from years past. Of course, the Israelis would have a conniption fit, because they’d be out an “existential threat” to wag the dog with and to beggar the diaspora and American taxpayers for welfare payments.

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  6. Charlemagne says:

    I would like to see George Friedman’s ideas on a
    video, interwieved about Alexander Dugin and the
    relations with the latest arrests. Otherwise He may
    loose credibility. Friedman sounds like he is just
    pumping up Turks. I need to listen to his opinions
    about Alexander Dugin and what is really going on
    behind the secenes.
    Just and advice for him. On the other hand his ideas
    are very interesting and his standpoint looks OK.

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  7. ... says:

    wigwag quote
    “””””””””But it’s not just Iran that doesn’t want a “”deal””. Friedman told us in his essay that a deal would infuriate both the Turks and the Israelis and he also told us that the Sunni Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia are afraid of a deal between the United States and Iran. Of course at this point the Obama Administration doesn’t want a deal either or it wouldn’t be pursuing sanctions.
    When no one wants a “”deal”” one thing is certain, there won’t be a “”deal””.””””””””””””
    “”deal”” is a good word to use in all of your conjecture wigwag, as a “”deal”” from any of these brokers offering it is much one from a us bank, or loan shark or any other such entity that has a reputation for making “”deals”” that are known to always favour the house and no one else… in this case the house is usa and israel……..one can see why those outside of this arrangement wouldn’t go for a “”deal””…
    go bad to bed…

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  8. Charlemagne says:

    Cohen And Helle argues that:
    “Russian notables who are regularly engaged in
    anti-American propaganda include ultranationalist
    Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, and
    Alexandr Dugin, an imperialist advocate and a
    formerly obscure philosopher, who is closely
    associated with the Russian military and
    nationalist politicians. Since becoming an
    influential geopolitical guru, he has received a
    professorship at Moscow State University and has
    his own talk show on state-run television. Dugin
    seems to receive ample funding from state coffers.
    He professes a deep distaste for democracy and
    considers the manipulation of information by the
    secret services as an acceptable tool in
    rebuilding the RUSSIAN EMPIRE”
    According to many websites in google and youtube,
    there is a relationship between Alexander Dugin’s
    Euroasianist ideals (neo russian imperialism)and
    the latest arrests in Turkey. Alexander Dugin
    “denied” these allegations of course. (read the
    previous paragraph above again)

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  9. Charlemagne says:

    “On the Russian domestic front, the United States as “the enemy” is used as a scapegoat for unsuccessful policies and to lend legitimacy to Putin’s leadership. For example, the Kremlin has blamed the current economic crisis, which has hit Russia harder than many other countries, on perfidious American policies. Likewise, in foreign policy, anti-Americanism is used to unite countries against the common enemy and to promote a multipolar world vision in which Russia, China, India, and authoritarian states, such as Iran and Venezuela, would check U.S. influence.”
    This is the most crucial paragraph of their article which I provided a link. It Hits hard

    Reply

  10. Charlemagne says:

    Last week in their eye-catching article appeared on heritage foundation, Ariel Cohen and Helle C. D make great point and explian the big picture.
    “Russian Anti-Americanism: A Priority Target for U.S. Public Diplomacy”
    http://www.heritage.org/research/publicdiplomacy/bg2373.cfm

    Reply

  11. WigWag says:

    “But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests.” George Friedman
    “He does seem to think that, at the end of the day, with all the consequences, a deal would work to the benefit of the United States.” (Sweetness)
    Yes, that’s precisely what he thinks, Sweetness. Is he right? Who knows?
    If Friedman is right and Obama did make a deal with the Iranians, it might sever Turkish-American relations almost completely. After all, if the Armenian Genocide Resolution passes, and there’s a good chance it will, relations between the United States and Turkey are about to take a nose dive. Superimpose on this, an American deal with Iran that Friedman says would infuriate the Turks and you have to wonder what, if anything, would be left of the relationship between Turkey and the United States.
    It’s interesting to contemplate what rising competition and acrimony between Turkey and Iran would engender. Would Turkey work to reestablish good relations with Israel? Would Turkey begin to move away from Iran’s client, Syria, and seek to forge even stronger ties with the Sunni Arab nations? Would Turkey look east?
    Of course, the possibility exists that Friedman is just plain wrong; perhaps a deal between the United States and Iran wouldn’t infuriate the Turks.
    In all likelihood we will never know. There will never be a “grand bargain” between the United States and Iran. It is obvious that the Obama Administration has decided for better or worse to move forward on sanctions. Even the “realists” in the Administration like Jim Jones and Bob Gates are touting sanctions as staunchly as Hillary Clinton and Dennis Ross (although we don’t hear much from him directly).
    It is far from clear that a grand bargain is available anyway. The Obama Administration has claimed that it reached out to Iran assertively and that its extended hand was rejected. The Leveretts insist that Obama didn’t work assiduously enough to court Iran.
    But the Leveretts just aren’t credible. One of their arguments to demonstrate that Iran is interested in a grand bargain is that Iran offered serious negotiations with the United States through the good offices of the Swiss Ambassador as far back as 2003. Their argument goes something like this; they offered a grand bargain once; they might very well offer one again.
    It has subsequently come out that the Leveretts were either lying about the Iranian offer or were dupes of the Swiss Ambassador who was the real author of the supposed Iranian offer. The Leveretts credibility on all of this is now seriously eviscerated.
    I don’t see any reason to doubt that Obama seriously attempted to negotiate with the Iranians but that his offer was rebuffed. It seems to me that the most likely scenario is that both Friedman and the Leveretts are wrong; Iran doesn’t want a grand bargain any more than anyone else involved with this dispute does.
    But it’s not just Iran that doesn’t want a deal. Friedman told us in his essay that a deal would infuriate both the Turks and the Israelis and he also told us that the Sunni Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia are afraid of a deal between the United States and Iran. Of course at this point the Obama Administration doesn’t want a deal either or it wouldn’t be pursuing sanctions.
    When no one wants a deal one thing is certain, there won’t be a deal.
    Which I suppose is good news for the Turks because apparently the Iranian-American rapprochement that they fear isn’t in the cards.

    Reply

  12. sdemetri says:

    A grand bargain with Iran is likely not in the offing now or soon.
    Iran sees the US as weakened, and has the US by the shorthairs
    to some degree with the influence it can exert in both Iraq and
    Afghanistan. The pull out of Iraq may continue, but if civil war
    threatens more severely or breaks out in fact (Chalibi/Iran
    motivated), there will likely be some re-jiggering of our military
    status there. Iran benefits from our being bogged down there
    and in Afghanistan. (Less likely a broadening of hostilities into
    Iran?)
    If Sibel Edmond’s allegations of nuclear spying on Turkey’s
    behalf, not unreasonable in light of Turkey’s likely benefit from
    nuclear proliferation especially if Iran moves its nuclear program
    forward, the military in Turkey are the likely benefactors in that
    view. Where would a moderately Islamic government in Turkey
    be with nukes? And if Turkey is on some course regarding
    nukes, how does this figure into the arrests…?

    Reply

  13. erichwwk says:

    John H;
    When you write:
    It’s about democracy. A military with veto power is a military that stands in the way of democracy. Or is democracy now the enemy?
    Are you perhaps subconsciously referring to the U.S.
    Wigwag writes:
    the United States spends 4.1 percent [of GDP on military expenditures]
    ???
    and I suppose you accept that the unemployment is 10%

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Sibel who???? Gosh, OA, don’t you know by now that Sibel is a figment of our imagination? Just like AIPAC’s influence, the unresolved events and circumstances surrounding 9/11/01, the missing DOD two trillion, the lies leading up to the Iraq invasion, the extreme snow job and cover-up surrounding the anthrax attacks, and the Justice Department’s new role as the writer of our President’s own persional Constitution, and the disconnect between Obama’s foreign policy advocations and Hillary Clinton’s “diplomacy”.
    You’re just hallucinating. Go back to bed.

    Reply

  15. Outraged American says:

    New article on Sibel Edmonds & her Turkey/ Israel/ the traitors
    in Congress/ Bush administration.
    This article lays out Edmonds and her supporters allegations
    quite clearly.
    H/T the invaluable news site Information Clearing Hous (.info)
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/
    Sibel Edmonds: The Traitors Among Us
    Sibel Edmonds Has Named Names. Why Isn’t The Media
    Reporting The Story?
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24886.htm

    Reply

  16. Sweetness says:

    But Wig…
    He does seem to think that, at the end of the day, with all the consequences in, a deal would work to the benefit of the United States.
    “But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests.”

    Reply

  17. WigWag says:

    George Friedman has a different perspective on Turkish-Iranian relations than many other people. At the sister blog to this one, the “Race for Iran” which is also stewarded by Ben Katcher, there’s a link to a George Friedman essay on the “Stratfor” website.
    In his essay, Friedman makes an argument similar to the one made by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett that the United States should seek a strategic rapprochement with Iran. He believes that Iran and the United States have several strategic interests in common and that something similar to the “grand bargain” recommended by the Leveretts may indeed be possible.
    Interestingly, he believes that if the United States forged a deal like this with the Iran, it would enrage the Turks. Friedman believes that the Turks and Iranians are fated to an adversarial relationship and that while neither side is looking for war, acrimony and competition between Iran and Turkey will get worse, not better over time.
    Here’s the money quote,
    “From the American standpoint, an understanding with Iran would have the advantage of solving an increasingly knotty problem. In the long run, it would also have the advantage of being a self-containing relationship. Turkey is much more powerful than Iran and is emerging from its century-long shell. Its relations with the United States are delicate. The United States would infuriate the Turks by doing this deal, forcing them to become more active faster. They would thus emerge in Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran. But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests. The Iranian position in Iraq would be temporary, and the United States would not have to break its word as Turkey eventually would eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq.”
    Unless I’m incorrect, Ben Katcher and the Leveretts have suggested that Turkey would be in favor of a deal between Iran and the United States. Friedman disagrees. The comment quoted above suggests that Friedman thinks a “grand bargain” would be viewed by the Turks with fury. He believes that while the Turks may be willing to serve as interlocutors between the United States and Iran, the last thing the Turks want is for those two countries to forge an agreement.
    Here’s a link to the entire Friedman article for those who might be interested,
    http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100301_thinking_about_unthinkable_usiranian_deal

    Reply

  18. Charlemagne says:

    The separation of church and state is a legal and political principle derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”
    Separation of church and state also applies to Turkish Constitution derived from French Lacisim model. But nowadays it is seen problematic. It is almost certain that Secularism will continue to be one of the important principles in Turkey
    However this problematic interpretation of secularism in Turkey stems from French Laicism Model which does not fulfil the current needs of Turkish societal dynamics. Therefor a more liberal interpretation of Anglo-American Secularism model for Turkey is being debated among some intellectuals in Turkey.
    Reform and Change is always needed for every countries who want to remain as important actors in international arena. Updating institutions and redefining principles are integral parts of core Turkish political cuture.

    Reply

  19. Marc Larivière says:

    An “islamised democracy” is a contradiction in terms, and a make-believe ! No democracy can be dependent on any religion, but only tolerant, provided the principle of separation of State and Religion is respected, that’s what we call “laïcité” in France, and I guess the military in Turkey are anxious that the present government should not “forget” it…

    Reply

  20. Charlemagne says:

    Greece is the basket case of Europe because Greece has been a member country of EU for almost 30 years. With 11.2 million population and with a relatively wealthier people compared to Turkish people in terms of rough GDP per capita statistics, the whole country bankrupted actually. and now they are dependent on German bail outs. Thats why its a basket case of EU. Because there is no greek economy annymore.
    In that case Turkey is irrelivant because Turkey is not even a EU member. If Turkey had been a EU member since 1981 like Greece, Current situation of Turkey would be no more different than Greece. For the first time in their history, Turks are probably feeling lucky not being a member of EU.
    Aside from Greece, which is obviously a bankrupt country now, Countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland are next on the line. Spain has the highest unemployment rate in EU and other countries follow suit. As for another bankrupt country Iceland, ironically they seek EU membership.
    At this point it is needless to ask this question below:
    “The question bears repeating; if Greece is a basket case, what is Turkey?”
    What is Turkey? Turkey is irrelivant in this question because its not a EU member country. Thus not a problem for EU at this very moment. Because they are not supposed to bail out Turkey. Its like asking ” if Greece is a basket case, what is New Zealand?
    I think Turkey will decide at the end of this year. Whether to put its best efforts to seek EU membership or to remain in NATO with a more deep relations with USA.
    NATO 2011 Lisbon Summit will determine Turkey’s route. It depends on What NATO’s new strategic Concept will bring to Turkey.
    And it is probable that within years, people will eyewitness a deeper and stronger alliance between USA and Turkey than ever in the history.

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  21. emre says:

    Turkey has several domestic problems like anti-kemalism and anti-repuclicsm.Now AKP is a dominant political party in Turkey but it losing your power up to time.Because some groups like secularist and nationalist groups hate AKP.On the other hand, Turkey people very like Army because Turkish tradition depands on Army ( Ottoman Empire, Oghuz, Hun).But nowadays some organs attacked the army and they want to damage army.Turkish people know that Army is a last column and They support army everytime.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Mar 02 2010, 1:04AM – Link
    When will the leaders of the United States of American cease being vassals to the bunch of racist religious fanatics that are at the helm of Israel?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    When?…when do you think.
    Here’s a clue…when we BWTTGASO

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    They don’t call the Irish the fighting Irish for no reason. LOL
    Town council
    TPA) – 11 hours ago
    A town council’s decision to rip out a page from a guest book signed by the Israeli ambassador was criticised by the Irish Foreign Minister.
    Local representatives in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, voted to remove Dr Zion Evrony’s signature from the distinguished visitors’ register in protest at his country’s diplomatic track record.
    The council’s move came after reports that fake Irish passports had been used by suspected Israeli assassins in the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai.
    Copyright © 2010 The Press Association. All rights reserved.
    ‘Israeli embassy should be closed’ Irish Independent

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing, isn’t it? Israeli terrorists supported by the United States in every friggin’ UN vote that seeks to rein in the Israeli criminals. Our leaders are spineless immoral embarrassments.
    Even Turkey’s leaders have the moral foundation to say “enough is enough”.
    When will the leaders of the United States of American cease being vassals to the bunch of racist religious fanatics that are at the helm of Israel?

    Reply

  25. Carroll says:

    Meanwhile….
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1153053.html
    Dubai’s police chief said on Monday that travelers suspected of being Israeli will not be allowed into the United Arab Emirates even if they arrive with alternative passports.
    Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim says the move comes after the killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai, blamed by the Emirates authorities on Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
    “We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have,” Tamim said.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Australia last week said it was not satisfied with the Israeli envoy’s explanation about the use of fraudulent Australian passports in the killing, after three people holding Australian passports were listed among 15 new suspects.
    Media reports last week said that Australian authorities had approached Israel in the 1990s to seek assurances that its passports would not be used in Mossad activities after it was feared Israel had doctored New Zealand passports.
    During that meeting, the reports claimed, the Israelis said they condoned such identity theft, with Australian participants describing their response as “enraged self-righteousness.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Asharq Al-Awsat reports that any foreign traveler visiting Lebanon who has a Jewish name will now be placed under surveillance.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    On Friday, the only countries willing to side with Israel in opposing a resolution that makes a renewed call for the investigation of war crimes committed during Israel’s war on Gaza, were the United States, Canada, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, and Macedonia.
    Australian government sources informed the Sydney Morning Herald that there was a direct connection between the UN vote and the Dubai affair:
    One Department of Foreign Affairs source told the Herald there was no doubt the decision to abstain was intended as a sign to Israel not to take Australian support for granted.
    “A number of things made it easier for us to switch our vote,” the source said.
    “Firstly, the Americans helped the Palestinians to soften the wording of this resolution compared to the last one. Secondly, a number of other countries had indicated that they were toughening their own positions for Goldstone.
    But there is no question that the debacle surrounding our passports being used in Dubai helped to make up the government’s mind to abstain. The final decision was taken late on Friday, Australian time, just a few hours before the vote.
    “Our pattern in the past has been to vote with the US when it comes to Israel.
    “We were also aware that the UK’s decision to vote in favour of the resolution was influenced by the fact that so many of their citizens had been caught up in the Dubai assassination.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Warincontext.com is following all the news and investigations on this for those who are interested.

    Reply

  26. WigWag says:

    You may very well be right, JohnH. When it comes to military spending, Turkey may be living beyond its means.
    The most recent data available suggests that Turkey spends about 5.3 percent of its GDP on defense expenditures. By way of comparison, the United States spends 4.1 percent, Russia spends 3.9 percent and China spends 1.7 percent. Remember, Turkey spends a significant amount of money fighting its Kurdish insurgents and it is surrounded by nations with whom it has not always had a pleasant relationship including Iran.
    By the way, Greece spends quite a bit more on defense than most it is European neighbors; Greece spends 4.3 percent of GDP on defense; probably most of it designed to deter the Turks. The difference is that despite being the basket case of Europe, Greece is far richer than Turkey so it can afford the luxury of high military expenditures if that’s what it chooses to do with its money. Or at least it could until recently.
    There are so many other parameters which prove how much poorer Turkey is than the country now considered to be the basket case of Europe.
    The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. Greece comes in as the 25th most developed nation in the world according to the U.N.; Turkey comes in as the 79th most developed nation in the world.
    The 2009 unemployment rate in Turkey was 13 percent while the unemployment rate in Greece was 9.2 percent.
    In 2008, 9 percent of the Turkish population lived on less than $2.00 per day; in Greece the percentage living on less than $2.00 per day was zero.
    One major parameter used to measure development is electricity used per day on a per capita basis. Obviously poor nations use less electricity and wealthier nations use more. For the most recent year that statistics are available, Greek citizens used 3,594 watts per day; Turkish citizen used 1,473 watts per day.
    The United Nation calculates an Education Index which includes literacy rates along with enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions. A perfect score is 1.00 which represents highest possible theoretical score, indicating perfect education attainment. The great majority of developed anions have a score of 0.9 or above.
    Greece comes in number 10 in the word (out of 176 nations for whom a score is calculated) with a score of 0.980; Turkey comes in at number 105 with a score of 0.824 (the United States comes in at 19th place with a score of 0.968).
    The homicide rate in Turkey is 6.23 murders per one hundred thousand population; the homicide rate in Greece is 0.98 per one hundred thousand.
    The question bears repeating; if Greece is a basket case, what is Turkey?
    Maybe George Friedman or Ben Katcher can enlighten us.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    From the statistics you cite Wigwag, you might agree that Turkey should spend less on its military and more on education, health care, and public infrastructure. Unlike Greece and Turkey, most of Western Europe spends 1-2.5% of GDP on its military. As a result, they can afford social investments and a social security net.
    If Turkey reduced the footprint of its military, then we might have more reason to be bullish on their economic future…

    Reply

  28. WigWag says:

    As I am sure you know Charlemagne, total GDP is far less relevant than per capita GDP in defining the wealth of a nation. Turkey’s GDP is produced by and shared by 72.6 million people; Greece’s GDP is produced by and shared by 11.3 million people. Greece is not just wealthier than Turkey; it is far wealthier. Or to put it another way, Greece is a relatively rich nation, Turkey is a relatively poor nation.
    If you would like a few other parameters to consider, you might find these interesting:
    1) Literacy: Greece is the 56th most literate nation in the world with a literacy rate of 97.1 percent. This places Greece in the top one third of nations in the world in literacy. Turkey is the 101st most literate nation in the world with a literacy rate that is dramatically lower than that of Greece. Turkey’s literacy rate is 88.7 percent. Turkey’s literacy rate puts it in the bottom half of nations in the world.
    2) Life Span: Greece has the 19th longest lifespan in the world; the average Greek citizen lives 79.5 years. Life expectancy in Turkey is far lower. Turkey has the 98th longest life expectancy in the world with the average Turk living almost 8 years less than the average Greek. Turkey’s average life span comes in at 71.8 years.
    3) Infant Mortality: Greece has the 38 lowest rate of infant mortality in the world. 7.8 children per thousand die before reaching their 5th birthday. Turkey comes in at number 110 out of 195 in terms of infant mortality. A stunningly high 31.6 children per thousand die before reaching their 5th birthday.
    4) Physicians by population: Greece is number 6 on the list of physicians per 1000 people. Greece has 4.4 physicians per 1000 people. Turkey is 93 on the list with 1.3 physicians per thousand people.
    By almost any parameter you can think of, Turkey is not only poorer than Greece; it’s dramatically poorer. The reason that I think this is an interesting comparison is that Turkey and Greece are historical rivals (although thankfully that rivalry is not as great as it once was). More importantly, given the recent attention to what an economic basket case Greece is, the question is what that says about the economic status of Turkey.
    I’m not suggesting for a moment that Turkey doesn’t have a bright future. Like Brazil and other third world nations it is a developing country just beginning to come into its own. Good for Turkey.
    My only point is that in the George Friedman interview cited by Ben Katcher, Friedman exaggerates the economic strength of Turkey and underestimates the tremendous obstacles that Turkey still faces to achieve the economic prosperity enjoyed by even the poorer nations of Europe.

    Reply

  29. DakotabornKansan says:

    Last night CBS 60 Minutes had a story on the longtime feud between Turkey and Armenia over genocide – more than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches.
    Bob Simon spoke to Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, Nabi Sensoy, about digging up
    “bones in a place called Deir Zor, which Armenians say is their equivalent of Auschwitz.” Ambassador Sensoy denied there was genocide. “Well, I don’t think that it was anything to comparable to Auschwitz. This was only deportation. And things happened on the road. There were no death marches of Armenians. There was deportation and tragic things happened. Many people perished under the deprivations of the First World War.”
    Why, almost a century later, does the Turkish government continue to deny this genocide?
    Why can’t it come to terms morally with the crimes of its culture’s past the way Germany has done with the Holocaust?
    Why does Turkey continue to maintain this irrational response to the Armenian genocide past?
    If Turkey wants to show that it has the dimensions of democratic culture in its own society, must it not critique its past honestly?
    What standing would the current Turkish government lose?
    And what does the US stand to lose?
    This feud ensnared not only those two nations, but even the White House and Congress, where there are resolutions officially recognizing the genocide. Sensoy says there are far more important issues than the Armenian issue: Turkey is a regional superpower and an essential broker between the U.S. and the Muslim world. It has the second largest army in NATO and the U.S. relies on the country’s Airbases for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seventy percent of American supplies to those wars go through Turkey, which is also a crucial conduit for oil. During his presidential campaign, Candidate Obama promised that, if elected, he would use the word. “The Armenian genocide,” he said, “is a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.” But when President Obama made his trip to Turkey, he never mentioned the word.

    Reply

  30. Charlemagne says:

    “Talk about shutting the stable door after the
    Trojan Horse has bolted. The US Federal Reserve is
    investigating the role of Goldman Sachs in
    arranging derivatives trades for Greece, which may
    have helped the country disguise the size of its
    massive national debt. The probe is likely to
    embarrass Goldman more than anything else –
    especially as the swap was in the public domain
    for seven years, and allowed under accounting
    rules sanctioned by Eurostat. Still, such
    incidents have only encouraged others to inveigh
    against speculators for aggravating the eurozone’s
    problems.”
    Financial Times reports..
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3/b5a90402-22ba-11df-8942-
    00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=2b8f1fea-e570-11de-81b4-
    00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

    Reply

  31. Charlemagne says:

    List of Countries by nominal GDP (CIA wordl Fact
    Book) 2009
    1) EU, 15,990.000 (millions of USD)
    2) USA 14,270,00
    3 Japan 5,049,000
    4)..
    5)..
    ..
    17) Turkey 593,500


    28) Greece 338,300
    ..
    ..
    39) Israel 215,700
    Besides Thanks to Greek Economic Depression Greece
    is now absolute dependent on Germany and Goldman
    Sachs

    Reply

  32. WigWag says:

    “Friedman is on the record as very bullish on Turkey – and he underscores his perspective in the clip above when he notes that Turkey’s rising economic strength and diplomatic clout may make it strong enough to prosper without membership in the European Union.” (Ben Katcher)
    Ben Katcher is right; George Friedman is bullish on Turkey. In fact, he’s probably too bullish. In the clip, Friedman makes the mistake that many observers do; he waxes eloquent about Turkey’s economic prospects. But are prospects for the Turkish economy really that good?
    Greece is Turkey’s historical rival and the Greek economy is widely considered to be the basket case of Europe. It is instructive to compare how the Greek economy compares with the Turkish economy.
    The per capita GDP of Greece, is $30,856; that’s 2.5 times larger than Turkey’s per capita GDP of $12,339. Greece has the 25th largest per capita GDP in the world, just behind Japan and just ahead of Cyprus and Taiwan. Turkey has the 66th largest per capita GDP in the world, just behind Mauritius and just ahead of Bulgaria and Romania.
    The average per capita GDP of the entire world is $10,348. Turkey’s per capita GDP is 19 percent larger than the world’s average; Greece’s per capita GDP is 198 percent larger than the world’s average.
    If Greece is considered an economic basket case; what would that make Turkey?
    In fairness to Turkey, the ratio of its public debt to GDP (59.5 percent) is dramatically lower than that of Greece (108 percent). But the economic growth rate of Turkey has been significantly worse than that of Greece. In 2009, the Greek economy contracted 2.5 percent while the Turkish economy contracted 5.8 percent.
    The economic growth rate of poor nations is almost always larger than the economic growth rate of wealthy nations because it’s much harder to achieve high growth rates when the denominator in the equation is large as opposed to small. Despite this, the fact that a wealthy nation like Greece is growing faster (or to be more accurate, declining more slowly) than a relatively poor nation like Turkey is telling.
    Prospects for Turkey may indeed be good; but exaggerating the strength of the Turkish economy or underestimating how far it has to go to catch up to even the poorest Western nations is not only silly, it’s inaccurate.
    It’s good that Friedman thinks that Turkey can prosper without being a member of the EU because the last thing the EU needs on its hands right now is another impoverished nation that could implode at any moment. Europe has big enough problems rescuing its wealthy nations without having to worry about fixing the problems of its poorer cousins.

    Reply

  33. samuelburke says:

    so i have a question for those who may know, is what we are
    seeing in turkey a sweeping up with what may be known as the
    neocons of turkey?
    what faction do these guys that are being arrested belong to?

    Reply

  34. DakotabornKansan says:

    Certainly, there is nothing more erroneous than the belief that the Turkish military has been the guardian of democracy.
    Yes, “This is not a choice between the dictatorship of the military vs. the dictatorship of the AKP. It’s about democracy.”
    My question – “What kind of a democracy will Turkey be if only the military is democratized, while the AKP controls all other sections of Turkish society?” is a question that is being asked by some Turks. An Islamized democracy? Some Turkish trade unions complain of pressure to join only pro-government, religiously oriented unions. There have been complaints of the Turkish Justice Ministry placing only AKP members on the appeals court. Also, complaints of school, police, city, and district administrative positions with only the AKP.

    Reply

  35. Dan Kervick says:

    “What kind of a democracy will Turkey be if only the military is democratized, while the AKP controls all other sections of Turkish society?”
    In what sense is the Turkish military “democratized”?

    Reply

  36. DakotabornKansan says:

    Carroll, re: the Turkish army – “I wouldn’t screw with them. They don’t have a reputation for being wimps.”
    I remember my high school American History teacher, a veteran of the Korean War, relating how fierce and scary the Turkish soldiers were, and they how didn’t screw with them. He said the Turks liked go out at night on the frontlines checking for dog tags; being in the foxhole, suddenly one hand with a knife at the neck, the other feeling for the dog tags. A lasting impression for me, especially years later, when I was stationed at an Air Force antenna site in Turkey that was guarded by the Turkish army. They shared our cafeteria. Definitely, not wimps!
    My tour of duty there was quite memorable as were the people of Sinop. It was an opportunity to be introduced to another culture that I am glad that I had.

    Reply

  37. JohnH says:

    “What kind of a democracy will Turkey be if only the military is democratized, while the AKP controls all other sections of Turkish society?”
    Where to start? Nobody elected the military. The Turkish people elected the AKP and may well replace them, if current polling is valid. This is not a choice between the dictatorship of the military vs. the dictatorship of the AKP. It’s about democracy. A military with veto power is a military that stands in the way of democracy. Or is democracy now the enemy?
    Carroll, Turkey simply does not need a large military. Iran also occupies a strategically significant chunk of land and is constantly being threatened by the US. Yet Iran’s military is only a quarter the size of Turkey’s. If Iran can establish an effective deterrence with a small military, why can’t Turkey? And shouldn’t it be the Turkish people, not the generals and military contractor, who get to decide whether to fund weapons or social and economic development?

    Reply

  38. DakotabornKansan says:

    Questions regarding the power struggle between the conservative Islamic Erdogan government and the secular military in Turkey:
    Have the secular Kemalist elites truly relented? If so, wouldn’t it be the first time in the history of the Turkish republic?
    Or has Prime Minister Erdogan gone too far for them?
    How does the Turkish military view the accusations against the alleged conspirators within its own ranks?
    Could the army strike back? Remove Erdogan via a coup?
    Could the Kermalists in Turkey’s judiciary system attempt to force Erdogan out of office?
    What kind of a democracy will Turkey be if only the military is democratized, while the AKP controls all other sections of Turkish society? An Islamized democracy? Is Erdogan truly a democrat?

    Reply

  39. Carroll says:

    I can see reasons for Turkey maintaining a large army. They occupy a very stratgtic economic, trade and military position in the region. Which because of, they would be a prime candidate for other countries to call on or try to ally with in event of war or turmoil. A large standing army gives them some measure of pick and choose to protect their own interest in that event.
    Anyway, I wouldn’t screw with them. They don’t have a reputation for being wimps. As proved after they finally threw their weight in with the allies in WWII.
    “I now understand that the vote I gave in favor of assistance to Turkey was the most fitting vote I gave in my life. Courage, bravery and heroism are the greatest virtues which will sooner or later conquer. In this matter, I know no nation superior to the Turks.” – Rose – U.S. Senator
    “While the Turks were for a long time fighting against the enemy and dying, the British and Americans were withdrawing. The Turks, who were out of ammunition, affixed their bayonets and attacked the enemy and there ensued a terrible hand to hand combat. The Turks succeeded in withdrawing by continuous combat and by carrying their injured comrades on their backs.
    They paraded at Pyongyang with their heads held high.” – G.G. Martin –
    British Lieutenant General”

    Reply

  40. JohnH says:

    Turkey currently sports by far the largest military in the ME. With less than half the GDP of France, Turkey spends almost as much on its military.
    But what threat is this military countering? Hard to identify. The military seems to represent a self perpetuating bureaucracy, much of which is simply redundant.
    To prosper, the country needs to reign in and reduce its military, which does not contribute a whole lot to the country’s productive capacity or to its social well being.
    The AKP’s arrests may represent a baby step in bringing this bloated military machine in line with the strategic and economic needs of the country. If so, I say “bravo!” Where do we find such politicians ?

    Reply

  41. Charlemagne says:

    As every country, Turkey has its own social
    problems and trying to deal with them in a
    progressive way. Especially for the last decade,
    Turkey made a huge progress compared to previous
    decades. The progress is still going on. But I
    dont perceive that Turkey is actually changing
    axis. Turkey is currently re-eastablisihing its
    balance between civil government and the military
    in terms of power relations. Check-balance
    mechanism in Turkish politics is being reorganized
    and redefined in an accordance with the current
    day needs and specifications. NATO undergone this
    redefinition process at their summit in 2004 with
    Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. European
    Neighborhood Policy followed suit. And then Turkey
    followed suit naturally.
    It seems that Israel dont like this process. Just
    as they didnt Like Eisenhower Doctrine in 1957.L
    As For George Friedman he is actually trying to
    embolden Turks or lets say Pumping Turks up.
    The big picture is still Russia+ China on the one
    hand and USA + NATO on the other hand.
    Iran is a buffer zone and a client state of
    Russia+China. And Turkey should lead Middle
    Eastern ountries to keep containing Russia+China.
    God Bless “George F. Kennaan.”

    Reply

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