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Boardman writes: "Turkey has been in a growing crisis for years, and the end seems nowhere in sight."

Turkish president Erdogan's supporters wave Turkish flags and a picture of his face at a rally in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Istanbul, July 19, 2016. (photo: Petros Giannakouris/AP)
Turkish president Erdogan's supporters wave Turkish flags and a picture of his face at a rally in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Istanbul, July 19, 2016. (photo: Petros Giannakouris/AP)

ALSO SEE: Turkey Begins 3-Month State
of Emergency Amid Ongoing Crackdown

The Crisis in Turkey Could Swallow Us All

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

21 July 16


Whatever happens next, it’s not likely to be pretty

urkey has been in a growing crisis for years, and the end seems nowhere in sight.

In the wake of the failed military coup, Turkish officials and civilians are pointing the finger at the U.S. for instigating it. “America is behind the coup,” said Turkey’s Labor Minister Suleyman Solyu. Solyu is a close ally of Turkey’s President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, who also blames the U.S. for harboring the Islamic cleric he says was behind the coup.

Officially, the U.S. says that speculation that the U.S. supported the coup is “categorically untrue.” Officially, the U.S. says it is “factually incorrect” to say it is harboring the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in a secluded, 26-acre gated compound in Saylorsville (pop. 1,126 in 2010) in rural, northeastern Pennsylvania. From there, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, Gulen, 75, reportedly runs a murky, billion-dollar global program of Islamic education and proselytizing called the Gulen Movement, also known as Hizmet (“service”) and Cemaat (“community”). And the Gulen people have contributed substantially to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Gulen has denied any involvement with the attempted coup, although it appears to have involved Gulen Movement officers in the Turkish military. Gulen followers generally do not identify themselves as such. Gulen told the Associated Press: “In brief, I don’t even know who my followers are. You can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup.”

A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant for Gulen in December 2014 that is still outstanding. Another Turkish court issued an arrest warrant for Gulen in November 2015, based on a 10,529-page indictment. In April 2016, Turkish police rounded up some 2,261 people accused of being Gulen followers creating a “parallel” state in Turkey.

The Erdogan government has demanded that the U.S. send Gulen back to Turkey, and may have also filed a formal extradition request. Officially, the U.S. has received what the Turks described as “four dossiers … of the terrorist chief” and the U.S. is “in the process of analyzing under the treaty” governing extradition. Erdogan and Gulen have been fighting for years, after even more years as allies. Now the U.S. finds itself, innocently or not (Gulen had CIA help to get his green card), in what amounts to a high stakes lovers’ quarrel. Whatever the U.S. ends up deciding is likely to prolong the chain reaction of critical events set off by the coup, with national, regional, and potentially global impact.

Turkish democracy is suspended by “state of emergency” declaration

Although the coup failed in part because of broad popular opposition to another military takeover (Turkey has had four since 1960), widespread opposition to Erdogan and his Islamist government remains, even though they came to power through a democratic process. Turkey is both a democracy and, since 2002, effectively a one-party state. Turkey’s population of 79 million is mostly Sunni Muslim, but the country has been proudly secular for most of a century. Both Erdogan and Gulen represent an Islamist challenge to secular government. Turkey’s human rights record in recent decades has been bad enough to keep it from acceptance into the European Union. During World War I, Turkey committed genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks, and Turkish law today forbids public discussion of its atrocities (a form of national denial). In the wake of the coup, the Erdogan government declared a three-month state of emergency, enabling it to act autocratically against broad sections of the population, summarily punishing them if not killing them. Long accused of consolidating ever more power in the presidency, Erdogan has moved quickly to purge more than 50,000 suspected opponents, using the coup as a justification. Early reports, including a New York Times editorial headed “Mr. Erdogan’s Reckless Revenge,” include these actions:

  • more than 6,000 soldiers detained (600,000-strong military is second-largest in NATO, U.S. is #1)

  • 60 military high school students suspended

  • 8,000 police officers detained or suspended

  • 3,000 judges and prosecutors dismissed

  • 100 intelligence officers dismissed

  • 492 employees of the Religious Affairs Directorate dismissed

  • 399 employees of Ministry of Family and Social Policies suspended

  • 257 employees of the prime minister’s office dismissed

  • 300 employees of the energy ministry dismissed

  • 15,000 employees of the education ministry suspended

  • 21,000 teachers in the education ministry, licenses revoked

  • 1,577 university deans, forced to resign

  • 8,777 interior ministry workers dismissed

  • 1,500 employees of the finance ministry dismissed

  • 47 district governors dismissed

  • 30 of 81 provincial governors arrested

  • 103 admirals and generals (out of 375) suspended, at least 85 of them jailed, including the commander of Incirlik air base (he sought asylum with U.S. forces, who refused)

Turkey’s bad human rights record likely to get worse

Of these, roughly 9,000 have been taken into custody, including 6,000 soldiers. According to past behavior, the Turks will torture as many as they feel like. The scale of the purge has prompted the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Hussein to express “serious concern” and ask that independent monitors be allowed to visit those detained. This surge toward autocracy caused concern at a special meeting of the European Parliament, leading one member to say of Erdogan, “I hope recent events will not be used to further ‘Putinise’ Turkey.” Erdogan’s recent suggestion of reinstating the death penalty in Turkey led members to note that such a move would end the possibility of Turkey’s joining the European Union.

The Erdogan government is taking such sweeping action because it believes a second coup attempt is possible, according to Patrick Coburn of the Independent. Reportedly, the government believes pro-coup forces had penetrated the government more deeply than it had previously thought, so it must purge them to assure its long-term survival. That leaves the question: if that penetration is real, why didn’t it surface during the coup?

Prime Minister Binali Yildrim claimed, although the purge provided no due process of law, that those dismissed or arrested were all members of the Gulen Movement: “This parallel terrorist organization will no longer be an effective pawn for any country…. We will dig them up by their roots.”

Additionally, the Erdogan government has:

The initial market reaction to Turkey’s state of emergency saw Turkish currency reaching an all-time low, while stocks and bonds also fell sharply. While Western leaders mostly fretted from afar, Russian president Vladimir Putin called Erdogan and complimented him on surviving and restoring order so quickly.

Under the state of emergency declared by Erdogan, the constitution is suspended and the government will rule by decree. According to Erdogan, his absolute power will be used in the interest of democracy, “and there will be no restriction on rights and freedoms…. We will remain within a democratic parliamentary system. We will never step away from it.” Although the state of emergency must be published in a state gazette and approved by Parliament to become official, that has inhibited Erdogan from exercising its authority. “The aim of the declaration of the state of emergency is to be able to take fast and effective steps against this threat against democracy, the rule of law and rights and freedoms of our citizens,” Erdogan promised. (Curiously, New Jersey governor Chris Christie was also promising that, as President, Donald Trump would try to act like Erdogan, and purge the government of all political appointees by President Obama, roughly 852 people out of 3,164 total political appointees.)

What would Turkey do in a crisis with the U.S., Europe, NATO?

WikiLeaks has started releasing hundreds of thousands of emails relating to Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party. On July 19, the first release included 294,548 emails and thousands of attached files despite being under severe cyber attack (by Turkish forces, WikiLeaks assumes). The emails begin in 2010 and the most recent was sent July 6, 2016. WikiLeaks soft-pedaled the potential impact of these emails, saying that “emails associated with the domain are mostly used for dealing with the world, as opposed to the most sensitive internal matters.” Turkey has blocked access to the WikiLeaks website.

When Europeans criticized the Turkish state of emergency, Erdogan said they had “no right” to do so. If the Europeans get too tough with Turkey, what’s to prevent Turkey from releasing millions of refugees into Europe again? There are 2.7 million Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey, mostly fleeing the Syrian government and sympathetic to the Islamic State (ISIS). Europe made a devil’s bargain with Turkey to keep them from over-running Europe. Why should an Islamist Turkey be expected to keep that bargain indefinitely?

Erdogan has said that the U.S. will be making a “big mistake” if it fails to turn over Fethullah Gulen. If that happens, will Turkey help less in the “war” against ISIS, in which it has long been fighting on both sides? (Donald Trump has said Turkey is on the side of ISIS.) Or would Turkey turn on the Kurds in northern Syria who are currently the most effective anti-ISIS fighting force? Would Turkey find that its military has been too weakened to fight the Kurds effectively? Would Erdogan finally indulge his desire to join Syrian president Bashar al Assad in a real or virtual federal alliance to control the region? Pushed too hard by the U.S. would Erdogan turn to Russia?

Erdogan has said he did not want to link the delivery of Gulen to Turkish justice with the continued cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey in using the Incirlik air base – thereby linking the two. Incirlik is a Turkish base with a strong NATO presence (including some 2,700 Americans). The previous Turkish commander of the base is now under arrest for his role in the coup, including sending up F-16s and refueling tankers from Incirlik. Erdogan might well ask: what did the Americans there know, and when did they know it? Incirlik is important in the war on ISIS as the base from which most air attacks on ISIS originate. Responding to the coup, the Turkish government cut power to Incirlik and imposed a no-fly zone, shutting it down. That sealed-off condition continued through July 20, with no one allowed to leave or enter the base, although air attacks on ISIS have reportedly resumed. As of July 21, Incirlik was apparently being held hostage by the Turkish government, although neither side is calling it a hostage situation.

And then there are the nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik, even though the air base has no planes capable of delivering them at present. Incirlik has about 50 B-61 hydrogen bombs, each more than ten times as powerful as the bomb dropped over Hiroshima. It is NATO’s largest nuclear stockpile. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has contributed to speculation that Turkey could lose NATO membership, saying about Turkey: “Being part of a unique community of values, it is essential for Turkey, like all other allies, to ensure full respect for democracy and its institutions, the constitutional order, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.”

There are about 2,700 American troops at Incirlik. That is not a force sufficient to prevent the Turks from taking the base – and the nuclear weapons ­– pretty much any time they choose. And then what? As Jonathan Marshall in Consortium News pointedly wonders: What are we doing storing nuclear weapons in Turkey anyway? Who is the imagined target of these Cold War leftovers?

Turkey is a longstanding, unsolved, and intractable problem that presidents and candidates go out of their way as much as possible not to address. That will change fast if it’s played as a hostage crisis. Presumably there’s a U.S. aircraft carrier already in the eastern Mediterranean, or well on its way.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+49 # guomashi 2016-07-21 15:55
Sounds like US has been checkmated - Either play with Erdogan or lose access to its bases in Turkey, or both if Erdogan doesn't want to play with US.

Karma's a bitch. US over extension of its power is coming home to roost.
+28 # PeacefulGarden 2016-07-21 17:15
I don't think it is that simple. If you are thinking chess board, then the pieces are on the floor and some are out the window.
+22 # Patriot 2016-07-21 23:01
Not sure this has anything to do with U.S. overextension. Seems to revolve, as concerns the U.S., mostly around Gulen's presence here, and the shutdown of Incirlik Air Base, including the sequestration of 2,700 USAF people, planes, and the nuclear storage depot. I do not know, or remember, whether Incirlik, like Cigli, is a joint Turkish/NATO base; if so, that's why NATO--repeat, NATO, not the U.S.--has a nuclear storage facility there.

The tension in Turkey has been around for a long time; it certainly was present when I lived there, from 1962-1965.

Turkey was dragged into the 20th century in 1922, by the overthrow of the last remnant of the Ottoman Empire by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who established a democratic form of government; a firmly secular state; a new language, Turkish, and forbade the use of Arabic; and banished both the fez (male headdress) and the veiling of women. He was still idolized when I was there, but, even then, there still were rumblings from the religious conservatives. Turkey tried to absorb all of those changes, and did a pretty good job of it, outwardly, but that's a lot to ask of human beings in a single generation. We still saw many signs of the old ways even then, 40 years later; people and cultures change slowly.

+27 # Patriot 2016-07-21 23:11

We do not understand (and are not likely to be enlighted by Western MSM outlets) the tension between secular and religious governance that exists in the Middle East, so we are unable to make independent, rational judgments about what goes on in that area.

While we lived in Turkey, I had the benefit of having a father who spoke Turkish fluently and was well-respected by all of the Turks with whom he came into contact, both military/NATO and many, many civilians. I do not remember all that he tried to explain to me, but I have been sad to watch, over the years, as Turkey has struggled to find her feet and make her choices. She remains a vulnerable country because of her location at the gateway between Europe and the Middle East, a very tricky spot to be in.

Having been overrun and utterly controlled by Europeans during the 1800s and the first part of the 1900s, Turkey has been very touchy about foreign influence and intervention, proudly insisting upon a Turkey for the Turks approach to just about everything. That understandable defensiveness has colored Turkey's membership in NATO, her relationship with the U.S., and her interest in the European Union.

We have cause to be gravely concerned, especially since Gulen is here in the U.S. (but as an "official" guest, or merely as a private citizen?), but apparently both the U.S. and Turkey are dealing carefully and delicately with one another.

Keep your fingers crossed, and your prayers for peace steady.
+29 # REDPILLED 2016-07-22 06:00
More than 70% of NATO's budget is funded by the U.S. In effect, NATO is an extension of U.S. foreign policy funded mostly by U.S. taxpayers.
+15 # guomashi 2016-07-22 06:19
Quoting Patriot:
Not sure this has anything to do with U.S. over extension.

Empire is based on genocide and an iron fist.
US has the stomach for neither, thankfully, because in the end it doesn't work anyway.

US's method of trying to do things on the cheap - installing dictators, feigning democracy, manipulating currency, etc. - cannot sustain stability.

US over extension is in believing Turkey is under control, we don't have to worry about it so we can use it as a jumping off place to do our little war games in the middle east which have no real supply lines other than places like Turkey which are not actually stable and on our side.

Now what? We have to support democracy? Nukes are vulnerable? It all depends on the vagaries of one popular elected man? etc.

Overextended and unsustainable. Do we play the "Shah of Iran" card again, overthrow the government while saying we want democracy? Do we just wait and hope?

The problem is not that the situation can't or won't work out, the problem is that we have no control over it, and nukes are involved.

Furthermore, those nukes there are a lynch pin of our (ridiculously bad) foreign policy based on deterrence.

etc., too many variables, too much at risk, and too much heavy machinery held together with rubber bands.

The policy problem is structural. If it weren't, none of its weaknesses could exist.
+11 # economagic 2016-07-22 07:19
Well said. It is such structural (systemic) problems, and the ilusion that we can control the resulting volatility, that I was attempting to address in my reply to lorenbliss below.

Pretty much everything humankind is doing on a large scale today is unsustainable, and partly because of the scale itself. In the geopolitical sphere, as you seem to be saying, we are playing power games (or "poker games," as lorenbliss says) from antiquity, 1,000-5,000 years ago, but with destructive powers many orders of magnitude greater.

Add to that the stresses on all global systems from modern technology and its byproducts and a very large population (larger system, more variables, hence more complexity and likely more volatility), along with the increasing pace of change in general (due in part to rapid communication and transportation over the past 150 years): Your metaphor of "heavy machinery held together with rubber bands" is entirely apt.
+19 # wrknight 2016-07-22 07:49
Unfortunately, it is too easy for the rest of the world to believe the accusations as U.S. credibility is in the tank. Combined with the U.S. obsession with "regime change" (meaning "we want to replace this guy who doesn't kiss our ass with someone more cooperative"), our stupid war on terrorism (not to mention the even more stupid war on drugs), and now the nomination of the two worst possible candidates for president, who can believe anything our government says or have any respect for the U.S.
-12 # HowardMH 2016-07-22 10:41
Obama is such a Wimp, he will kiss Turkeys ass and give them just about what they want.
+11 # Dred Pierce 2016-07-21 19:41
I can only wish that we as a nation could detain every ZIONIST NEOCON for deportation to Israel, every CORRUPT Police officer and politician and the 'think tanks' that brought us Iraq, and now Syria. Turkey is showing us how it is done. Declare state of emergency for three months, suspend 'rights' of enemies of state and put them where they belong. I can dream can't I?
+14 # guomashi 2016-07-21 19:59
Quoting Dred Pierce:
I can only wish that we as a nation could detain every ZIONIST NEOCON for deportation to Israel, every CORRUPT Police officer and politician and the 'think tanks' that brought us Iraq, and now Syria. Turkey is showing us how it is done. Declare state of emergency for three months, suspend 'rights' of enemies of state and put them where they belong. I can dream can't I?

They can still cause havoc in Israel.
What I can't understand is why haven't they been laughed off the face of the planet?
# Guest 2016-07-21 19:59
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
+15 # Patriot 2016-07-21 23:37
Dred, who, exactly, do you think would be on that list of enemies of the state? Zionists? Neocons and neoliberals? Clinton, Trump, Cruze?

Most likely all non-heterosexua ls; persons who are, or who are descended from, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians; political dissidents, which many who speak up here on RSN and on similar sites probably are labeled in some file, somewhere.

Who is an enemy of the state would depend entirely upon who is "the state".

Be careful what you wish for; in my experience, wishes tend to come true, but not always exactly as one hoped....
+14 # RLF 2016-07-22 05:23
So, Dred, you want a totalitarian government? A benevolent one of course! Turkey's creeping conservative Islam has been coming for years and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Erdogan himself engineered this coup. He seems to be the principal benefactor.
+18 # Blackjack 2016-07-21 21:50
And the Clintons are in the middle of another mess. Is there no end to the meddling (for money, of course) that these two cause? And this is the best candidate the Dems can come up with? How much more damage can this brain dead party do to itself?
+31 # lorenbliss 2016-07-21 22:33
The wild cards in this international game of suicide poker are the Incirlik nukes.

It is not analogous to chess, because in chess everyone can see the board; it is closer to poker because the cards are concealed.

And Mr. Boardman is right: the situation is properly terrifying.

If the Turks take the base, radical Islam gets modern USian hydrogen bombs. This is the same brand of Islam that beheads sickly 10-year-old boys with a knife, chosen because it is torture, the most long-lasting and excruciatingly painful death by beheading.

Moreover an "aircraft carrier" is no deterrent at all.

Undoubtedly because the first objective of the imperial military machine is the generation of the highest possible profits for the defense industry (and therefore for Wall Street), USian strategic and tactical capability is still hamstrung by the self-defeating (but infinitely profitable) Curtis LeMay doctrine of fighting a ground war mostly with aircraft: note Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

What will be required to defend Incirlik and keep its nukes out of ISL's already blood-drenched hands is a full scale invasion by ground troops. But thanks to the imperial follies in Iraq and Afghanistan, such forces -- like the old cold-war STRAC (Strategic Army Command) units -- no longer exist.

If this were chess, it could be said the empire has checkmated itself. But it is suicide poker -- and with every passing minute it seems more obvious the empire is betting on a losing hand.
+10 # Patriot 2016-07-21 23:27
Lorenbliss, the Turks are not likely to hand over Incirlik to anyone, let alone ISIS. Turkish Islam is not, and has not been for a long time, the same force that Islam is in other countries--and that is part of what creates and maintains tension in Turkey between religious and secular components of government and society.

The presence of one of our aircraft carriers is a definite deterrent. The distance from Incirlik AFB (Adana) to the coast is very short; the distance from the coast to Ankara is very short. Also, if our people at Incirlik are told to leave Turkey, they may depart by carrier, and their safety certainly will be much more assured with an American carrier sitting offshore. I can tell you from personal experience, just knowing there's a carrier in the area will be of enormous comfort to the personnel at Incirlik, who are, after all, just following orders and doing their jobs.

Blackjack: How on earth do you consider the Clintons to be involved in what's happening in Turkey?
+14 # lorenbliss 2016-07-22 04:09
@Patriot: Mr. Boardman's point is the combination of the nukes and the worsening unpredictabilit y and therefore unreliability of Erdogan makes for a deadly dangerous situation in which literally anything could happen.

Then there is the fact, long reported by the Western European press and now finally also acknowledged by its far more censored USian counterpart, that Erdogan is demonstrably one of ISL's best allies.

Moreover, the instability of the anything-could- happen scenario is gravely intensified by the possibility, suggested by the less-censored Western European press, Erdogen is mentally ill.

Meanwhile the doctrinal differences between what you describe as "Turkish Islam" and the ISL brand of Islam have obviously not stopped Erdogan from doing everything he possibly can to aid ISL.

As to the deterrence value of air attacks, look at the military history of the past 80 years. Apart from the saturation bombing of cities and air-to-air combat, the ONLY truly effective use of aircraft is for close support of infantry -- a tactical truth USian military doctrine steadfastly denies because of the reasons I stated above.

Obviously the presence of a carrier does nothing whatsoever to deter jihadists.

With respect -- because more often than not I agree with your posts -- had you been a soldier, you would know of what I speak, including why the Army and the Marines derisively refer to the USAF as "the Air Farce."
+11 # economagic 2016-07-22 06:59
Quoting lorenbliss:
@Patriot: Mr. Boardman's point is the combination of the nukes and the worsening unpredictability and therefore unreliability of Erdogan makes for a deadly dangerous situation in which literally anything could happen. . . .

Moreover, the instability of the anything-could-happen scenario is gravely intensified by the possibility, suggested by the less-censored Western European press, Erdogen is mentally ill.

I wouldn't presume to comment on the mental state of Mr. Ergodan, although there does seem to be a growing correlation between being a "national leader" or contending for such a position and mental instability.

But instability and volatility are increasingly characteristics of global systems as a whole, often engineered for a purpose (as in finance), but just as often resulting from the interaction of volatile subsystems. Ordinary wave trains on the high seas may create a "hole in the ocean" where the troughs of two crossing wave trains coincide, a physical example of this phenomenon.

The "takeaway": With climate in particular and with the system of systems that is Planet Earth (including nuclear weaponry but also nuclear power plants, geopolitics, industrial agriculture, the physical infrastructure of modern civilization as a whole, etc.), instability and volatility in any one subsystem interacts with the same in other subsystems, creating even greater instability.
+7 # Patriot 2016-07-23 20:26
economagic, that's a brilliant thumbnail characterizatio n of the world today.

I almost choked on "...there does seem to be a growing correlation between being a "national leader" or contending for such a position and mental instability." WHAT an understatement!

I would pay to read RSN just to read your comments, which I always treasure.
+8 # wrknight 2016-07-22 08:38
Lauren, you are absolutely right about the exaggerated effectiveness of U.S. air power. We achieved the saturation bombing in WWII by producing over 300,000 aircraft, about 100,000 of which were B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-29 bombers. The cost of the B-17 then was about $200,000 which adjusted for inflation amounts to roughly $3 million. Today, we will pay about $150 million for a single F-35 fighter (the effectiveness of which is dubious). How many of those things will we be able to afford, and what will we be able to do with just a handful of them distributed world wide?

I don't wish to offend those who serve in the Air Force, but I still believe that one of the biggest military mistakes ever made in the U.S. was the National Security Act of 1947 in which the Air Force was made a separate department and, together with the Army and Navy, was put under the newly formed Department of Defense (itself an oxymoron). We would be much better off with the Air Force being a branch of the Army where it would be dedicated to supporting the ground war. Nobody holds the air for long, but whoever holds the ground wins the war.
+8 # wrknight 2016-07-22 08:56
Related to that, many years ago there was a political cartoon depicting two Soviet generals standing by the shore at Dunkirk in France. Both were looking skyward and one said to the other "I wonder who won the air war"?
+4 # Patriot 2016-07-23 20:29
Could it have been the 101st Airborne, which loaded glider-dropped paratroopers down with 150 pounds or more of gear, then spread them all over hell-and-gone, in the process killing their general, who rode over (in a chair?) in one of their gliders and was killed when it crashed--a fittingly ignomous end)?

Note: That's my tongue you see poking out of my cheek....)
+7 # economagic 2016-07-22 12:01
John Kenneth Galbraith, the late, great heterodox economist from Canada and the dean of American institutional economics for the entire second half of the 20th century, served as a director of the Strategic Bombing Survey ordered by the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) toward the end of WW II and after. The Survey concluded that all of those B-17 and B-24 bombing runs over Germany and the B-29 runs over Japan did little if anything even to slow down war production in those countries (their purpose, aside from creating terror among the populace), much to the dismay and denial of the War Department.
+10 # wrknight 2016-07-22 12:13
I hadn't heard that, but it comes as no surprise. I was involved in an analysis of bombing effectiveness in Vietnam and found it to be a joke.
+4 # Patriot 2016-07-23 20:22
Lorenbliss: I have my own reasons for occasional denigration of the USAF; while not a soldier, I was up to my neck in the military--Army, Air Force, Navy--from 1950 to 1986.

Apparently you never lived in a foreign country which had a U.S. aircraft carrier parked off shore. I did, and it had a definite impact on the locals--and policy.

However, I'm not at all sure what might/might not register to ISIS' personnel, and I'm not very confident that anyone else is, either, including the usual "intelligence" types, so I'm unprepared to debate on that topic.

If Erdogan is acting as he thinks best for Turkey (see my previous remarks), the U.S. probably is not paying attention; if he is mentally unstable, then the whole situation is utterly unpredictable.

The U.S. huffs and puffs a lot about Turkey--but mostly the noise doesn't come for the circles that can DO anything about a situation. We do NOT want to lose our bases in the area; they really are critical to U.S. security (if that seems unlikely to you, I can't think how to make it clear), so I do not see our doing anything our masterminds THINK might make a very volatile situation worsen, or explode.

Nor do I think Erdogan likely to push things far enough to put us in the position of being virtually unable to avoid acting against the long-range interests (sovereignty) of Turkey. No matter what, we are pledged to come to Turkey's defense if she is attacked; in her location, that pledge is priceless to Turkey.
+9 # f f skitty1947 2016-07-22 00:15
there is a chess exercise known as 'self mate', in which the player is asked to find the quickest, most efficient way to lose.

regarding the game itself, there is a quote attributed to the great player savielly tartakower:

'the mistakes are all there, waiting to be made.'
+9 # wrknight 2016-07-22 08:57
It sounds like we have mastered the exercise.
+12 # lorenbliss 2016-07-21 23:05
Apropos the empire's plight at Incirlik, the late Medieval expression, "he is hoist by his own petard," comes vividly to mind.

A petard was a large vase of gunpowder used to blast through a castle gate during a siege. The petardeer, most often a volunteer, dashed forward, typically under cover of archery volleys; he carried the bomb and a devise for attaching it to the gate.

If successful, he attached the petard, lit its fuse and escaped back to his own lines before the bomb went off.

If not -- and remember in those days gunpowder was a new weapon and fuses were often fatally imprecise -- the petardeer was blown up by his own bomb, i.e., "hoist by his own petard."

The subsequent literary meaning of the phrase is that one has been undone by one's own deeds.
+19 # Activista 2016-07-21 23:09
William Boardman analysis (especially nuclear bombs in Turkey) brings out information that US mass media is ignoring/censoring.
What is a NATO (in my opinion obsolete cold war relic) role? Instrument to start new suicide wars?
+16 # guomashi 2016-07-22 06:08
Quoting Activista:

What is a NATO (in my opinion obsolete cold war relic) role? Instrument to start new suicide wars?

Curiously, I was asked this same question the last time in was in Russia: "Why does NATO even exist?". I couldn't answer them except to mutual defense pacts aren't a bad thing, but that Russia should be part of it, not cast a priori as an enemy.

As of now, NATO is a graft machine for the military and nothing else. In order to function, NATO has to make up imaginary enemies. Otherwise, there is no reason to suck the treasury dry, and no reason to pay generals to propagandize and plan wars.
+13 # janie1893 2016-07-22 02:03
The USA needs NATO for its potential military strength and as a scapegoat when
an invasion goes badly (our NATO allies were there with us!) Indeed, NATO is actually irrelevant in the 21st century but the Pentagon likes to use NATO bots in its war games.
+14 # wrknight 2016-07-22 07:59
There is no longer a need for NATO and it should be disbanded. We should pull out of Turkey and sure as hell get our nukes out of there tout suite.
0 # Patriot 2016-08-11 13:36
Guomashi, Janie--I think that the military is considerably less the force behind U.S. policies and actions relevant to NATO than most people believe. While military people--who have, among themelves, a really great private intelligence base, having been (collectively) everywhere--mil itary brass is, as all military people are pleased to know, constrained by CIVILIAN control, just as it should be. If you wonder why "the military" does certain things, ask the President, the Secretary of Defense, or the Congress--or the 1% that controls all of them. In my experience, the majority of military personnel are considerably less intereted in having a war than in preventing one--and why not? It is their hides that will be on the line! The American people have supported dozens of idiotic policies--and the combat actions that resulted--while steadfastly screaming bloody murder at the mere mention of a draft to supply the necessary forces. Yet those fores do exist; they're active duty, reserve, and Guard people, and they eye many of the plicy discussions and resultant orders with MUCH more dismay than civilians do. It is their lives that are on the line.
+10 # Helga Fellay 2016-07-22 10:12
The crisis in Turkey is a result of a coup which has not been conclusively analyzed. The article below also deals with Erdogan's demand that the US turn over Gulen, the Islamic cleric accused of being behind the coup and threatens unspecified consequences should the US refuse.
He seems like a wolf-in-sheeps- clothing. His anti-woman stance is in direct conflict with the label of "moderniser." This article does not mention his ties with the CIA. Gulen's world-wide empire and network of schools made me wonder how a ME Muslim refugee would be able to build such a powerful financial empire within a few short years when most ME Muslim refugees are lucky to get jobs as dishwashers the first few years they arrive here. His aim from the start was to take over Turkey and I suspect the CIA used him trying to get his "modernised" Islam to replace a more radical Islam in strategically important Turkey, while he, sly fox, used the CIA backing in building his huge empire by pretending to be a "moderniser" when in reality he is anything but. I think that the coup was Gulen/CIA sponsored (immediately following Erdogan's newly formed ties with Russia/Israel/A ssad). We know that Russia warned Erdogan about it pre-coup, and Erdogan allowed it to proceed because he knew it would make it possible for him to seize total dictatorial power which it did. He gambled and he won.
+8 # lorenbliss 2016-07-22 11:14
@Helga Fellay: Thank you for mentioning the Russian factor.

Going back at least to 1858 and the Sepoy Mutiny, which was agitated by Imperial Russian intelligence in response to Imperial British warmongering, there has been no nation on this planet more skilled at intelligence operations.

The Tsar's agents spread rumors amongst the East India Company's Hindu troops the paper cartridges for the new Enfield rifles were greased with beef fat; they spread rumors amongst the EIC's Moslem troops the cartridges were greased with pig fat. (To load, you bit the end off the cartridge, poured the powder down the barrel, then rammed the bullet in with the ramrod.) The mutiny was the deadliest and most costly in British Empire history.

In 1863, the same skill at intelligence enabled the Russians to abort the British and French scheme to recognize the Confederacy and -- in return for its cotton -- provide enough troops and other military aid to ensure its victory. Thus Tsar Alexander II was literally the savior of the Union -- no doubt one of the unacknowledged reasons for the USian Right's hostility toward Russia even today.

Now in Turkey the Russians -- obviously in revenge for the (Southron dominated) USian Empire's imposition of a Nazi regime in Ukraine -- may have won yet another pivotal victory.

The USian national sports are baseball and professional wrestling; the Russians' is chess. The Turkish crisis may be one more illustration of the intellectual difference.
0 # Patriot 2016-08-11 13:39
Loren, do you think you could manage to stop writing 'USian"? There are words to describe "the United States'..." anything.
+13 # WBoardman 2016-07-22 11:28
Gulen built his network over decades,
during which he and Erdogan were allies.

Gulen came to the US in 1999, but remained
an Erdogan ally till a few years ago.

Gulen's CIA ties are murky (like much of the rest
of his life). A "former" CIA officer helped Gulen get
his green card, but says he did it as an individual,
not at the CIA's behest.

While little is certain, there is certainly no reason
not to be thoroughly skeptical of everyone involved. ;-)))
+5 # guomashi 2016-07-22 23:30
Quoting WBoardman:

While little is certain, the is certainly no reason
not to be thoroughly skeptical of everyone involved. ;-)))

Thank you for following up in the discussion.
+6 # Patriot 2016-07-23 20:46
Bravo, Mr. Boardman. You wrote a fine analysis, backed by a solid follow-up.

Please write for RSN more often: Your articles, even when they contain much analysis, still are closer to news a-la-Cronkite (who, what, when, where, how) than any others I've read in many years.

Many thanks!
+4 # Patriot 2016-07-23 20:42
Helga, very nice! While I have no way to know whether or not it is factually accurate, I certainly also have no reason to question your analysis--and it "smells" too much like the sort of sticky stuff we so often get ourselves into for me to very seriously doubt it. And, the gamble you describe appears again and again throughout history.

(Why are the Russians often quite brilliant strategists, while we seem to be, often, merely blundering, in way over the ability of our heads?)

The speculation about Erdogan's sanity just became a bit less credible to me.
Thank you.

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