Turkey: Last week's mass military resignations signal the end of Ataturk's secular vision.

A wartime lexicon.
Aug. 1 2011 11:32 AM

The End of the Kemalist Affair

When was the last time a conservative NATO army pushed out its highest-ranking officers?

(Continued from Page 1)

But the sordid fact is that the "secular" military elite in Turkey had already sold out a number of the values that were real to Ataturk and necessary for Turkey's integration into the Eurosphere. The Turkish army not only allowed itself to become a participant in the dirty and illegal land grab that continues to offend all international laws and U.N. resolutions affecting the self-proclaimed colonial statelet in the north of the island of Cyprus, but in the early years of the occupation, the leader of Ataturk's party—Bulent Ecevit—was rounded up as a political detainee. This negation of free movement within EU borders has poisoned relations with Greece, driven tens of thousands of Cypriots into economic exile, and delayed the integration of two advanced economies—Turkey and Cyprus—at just the point when the Athenian economy cannot go it alone.

Having for years provided a rearguard at Incirlik Air Base for the humanitarian relief of the Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite populations, the Turks were offered the opportunity to lend a "northern front" and to finish the job of Operation Provide Comfort in 2003. The strong impression received by some of us who sat in the waiting rooms outside the discussions of this policy was that the Turkish army was declining the honor mainly because the bribe or inducement wasn't large enough. It also seemed that the same army was hoping for a chance to project its own power in the Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq. To be waging another dirty war on the soil of a foreign state, and to be paying for it by using money supplied by the foreign aid budget of the U.S. Congress, looked like bad faith of a very special kind.

Advertisement

In 1960, the Turkish army held the ring by intervening to execute two powerful political bosses—Adnan Menderes and Fatin Zorlu—who according to my best information had instigated vicious pogroms in Istanbul and Nicosia and even tried the provocation of bombing Kemal Ataturk's birthplace in Salonika. (See, if interested, my little book Hostage to History: Cyprus From the Ottomans to Kissinger.) But this long, uneven symbiosis between state and nation and army and modernity has now run its course. In its time, it flung a challenge to the injustice of the Treaty of Versailles, revived regional combat on a scale to evoke the Crusades, and saw the American and Turkish flags raised together over blood-soaked hills in Korea in the first bellicose engagements of the Cold War. That epoch is now over. One wonders only whether to be surprised at how long it lasted or how swiftly it drew to a close and takes comfort from the number of different ways in which it is possible to be a Turk or a Muslim.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
History
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Education
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?