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Post Turkey's Elections of June 24th: A New Era
Created by John Eipper on 06/26/18 8:42 AM

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Turkey's Elections of June 24th: A New Era (Yusuf Kanli, Turkey, 06/26/18 8:42 am)

A New Era in Turkey

With the Sunday, June 24th presidential and parliamentary elections, a new era has begun in Turkey. The parliamentary democratic governance has now been replaced officially with an autocratic presidential governance system. Worse, in the new system there are no checks and balances, and the country might soon find itself heading fast to a full-fledged autocracy.

Contrary to expectations, the incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made it in the first round and with over 52 percent of the votes cast. He was elected as president to a second term in office. Was it indeed a second term, or was this his first under the new system? This will be a discussion of the years to come, for if it is his second, he cannot compete for a third term unless he calls for elections at least one year before his term expires.

Was there fraud? Were the results rigged? Most probably. But as the CHP presidential candidate conceded in a press conference called to declare his acceptance of defeat, the level of rigging was not anywhere near enough to change the overall result. Thus, perhaps it is wiser to stop wasting time with such discussions and instead concentrate on how future contests will be waged. Municipal elections are around the corner and the CHP risks losing all its major seats, including the seat of mayor in Eskişehir, to the AKP.

It was a long and traumatic night for all polling companies in Turkey as well as those international ones hired to estimate the outcome of the June 24 twin vote. In brief, and without exception, they all failed.  Though some were relatively close in predicting the outcome, some were as distant as a star in outer space.

A polling company executive that I happened to spend time with on election night kept repeating that the results reported on all TV channels were manipulated or at least cherrypicked from a pool. As it was only the semi-official Anatolia News Agency (AA) reporting the results from the Supreme Electoral Board, and since the AA has long been a mouthpiece of the government, the pollster was confident that as the night progressed the results would prove his company's estimates to be correct. Alas, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce conceded defeat shortly after midnight, dashing all my friend's hopes.

He was not alone, of course. Many people shared his hope that by the end of the night figures would change, if not in the presidential vote at least in the parliamentary one, and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would lose. That hope became partially true. For the second time in its history the AKP lost its parliamentary majority. The first one was in June 2015 when Erdoğan did not like the outcome, did not allow creation of a coalition government and forced the country to a repeat election in November. In the meantime, hundreds of Turks lost their lives to political chaos-fed terrorist actions. Now, the president cannot do this, as calling a new election would mean calling for a presidential vote repeat, as well. On the other hand there is a remedy at hand. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which was in an election alliance with the AKP, has scored a major electoral victory and maintained its 2015 vote share, though it just gave birth to the Good Party (IYI). Indeed, it could be said that besides Erdoğan the MHP was the only other winner of Sunday's twin vote.

Yet, Sunday's parliamentary vote showed that an era of cohabitation--if not a formal coalition--has started and in this new period the minority partner MHP will most likely be at the steering wheel.

On the left, on the other hand, İnce managed to receive over 30 percent of the vote. That was a first for a social democrat leader since late Bülent Ecevit's great electoral successes of the 1970s. Will he sit back and enjoy the moment or will he use the power the electorate gave to him to claim leadership of the CHP or perhaps a mayoral seat of a major city, Ankara, İzmir or perhaps even İstanbul? It is still early to discuss this, but perhaps the topic will become relevant soon.

JE comments:  A most informative report.  Yusuf, do you see Ince as uniting Turkey's entire anti-Erdogan opposition?  Or given the Leader's further consolidation of power on June 24th, is any talk of "opposition" futile?

Tell us about Ince.  Is he a secularist in the Atatürk spirit?

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  • What's Next in Turkish Politics? (Yusuf Kanli, Turkey 06/28/18 9:28 AM)
    Turkey's elections are over. Many here are celebrating the results as "victory," while in some segments of society the mood is depressive. In a polarized country this could be considered normal, as for some peculiar reasons the "victory" of one is considered the "defeat" of the other.

    Obviously, the victors of Turkey's June 24th elections were incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan--who managed to make a comeback with enhanced powers with 52.5 percent of the vote--and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). It also gave birth to a new party, which was attacked throughout the campaign, with political analysts and pollsters claiming it was a fringe party. Yet it came back not only with a vote share almost at the same level as in 2015. but also as the party that elected Erdoğan with its support and captured the role of kingmaker in the new parliament. It was an outstanding success story.

    Perhaps rather than discussing what happened on election night, it is now time to think of what might be in store for the "new" Turkey. The question of "What's next?" must be asked in all spheres.

    Ever since he was elected president, particularly after the April 16 referendum of last year, Erdoğan has been exercising most of the powers he now officially possesses as the "first elected president" of Turkey under a chief executive system. Now, he has acquired vast powers to rule the country single-handedly.

    A president who has the power to appoint 12 of the 15 members of the Constitutional Court, for example, cannot be considered as only the chief executive, but probably the country's chief judge as well.

    With the introduction of a freak "party-member president" status, the above-party status of the presidency has been terminated. Even though Erdogan's AKP is few seats short of a majority in parliament, the president in cooperation with his partner MHP can shape the performance of the legislature as he sees fit. Thus, while the president will need MHP's support, the MHP will continue to influence foreign policy and security as well as the domestic policies of Turkey. Though many of its leaders and deputies, including presidential candidate Demirtaş, were in prison, with borrowed votes from the social democrats, the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) managed to make a strong comeback in the new parliament.

    In view of the increased role of the MHP, acquired with its contribution to the election of Erdoğan despite a decline in AKP vote, the new Erdoğan government is compelled to be more nationalistic than ever in both domestic and foreign policy. More so, probably the security-centered approach in dealing the Kurdish issue might be consolidated in this new era, though repeatedly it has been proven that in the absence of political reforms, policies focused on using force have all failed to tackle this most important problem of the post-republic Turkey.

    This interdependence of the AKP and the MHP will shape Turkey's foreign and allied relations as well. The S-400 controversy with the United States and other NATO allies, as well as rights, liberties, democratic norms and the problems with the Kurds, in Cyprus and elsewhere, most likely will continue poisoning relations with the EU. What Austria's foreign minister or some other professed anti-Turkish politicians say might not be that important, but it is a fact that the European "street" is not happy at all with Turkey swinging to that far away regarding Western values.

    How will the new Turkey manage to establish new bridges with the US--challenging the imposition of sweeping sanctions if Erdoğan continues with his Russia love--or with the EU antagonized so much with the persistent and premeditated rights violations?

    In this new era, of course, the ability of Turkey to sail to normalcy one day will largely depend on the ability of the anti-Erdoğan opposition to form a united front. The main opposşition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has flatly refused pressures to go to a special convention and leave his seat to Muharrem İnce, who lost the election despite getting 30 percent of the vote. İnce, a secularist and political pragmatist, might revive the opposition ahead of the crucial local elections later this year. Without forming some sort of an alliance, the opposition might suffer a very serious and humiliating defeat and might indeed lose the few mayoral seats that presently have. However, to instill hope in the masses, as well as to send a strong message to Erdoğan, they need to win at least two of the three major cities, Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. İzmir is now lead by a mayor from the CHP. İnce might run for Ankara or İstanbul. Already there is talk that some political kingmakers have been trying to convince Kılıçdaroğlu to name him candidate for İstanbul and save his own seat as party leader. Perhaps it is still to early to estimate what the product might be of the election shockwave.

    JE comments: Muharrem Ince is the leader of the Atatürkist Thought Association, the present-day movement that espouses the secularist ideas of Kemal Atatürk. He is also reportedly a fiery orator, and the best hope of Turks looking towards the time when (or if) Erdogan finally goes.

    Have you met Ince, Yusuf?

    The next nation to go to the polls: Mexico on July 1st. The leftist front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is in a position to win by a landslide. US-Mexican relations will no doubt turn even more interesting.

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    • Autocracy in Turkey, Russia, and Beyond (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 06/30/18 3:37 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Thanks to Yusuf Kanli (June 28 and earlier) for these timely insights into
      the latest elections in Turkey, as it endorses strongman Erdogan.

      to Russia's return to enthusiasm for autocracy, this completes a swath
      southward into Syria (they're saying strongman Assad has now won his
      six-year civil war, with disastrous smolderings to come), and bridging
      over to theocratic Iran, through Iran's increasingly dependent question-mark neighbor, Iraq.

      Then looking far south, Africa seems mostly to
      face choices between strongman and worse strongman. The 1990s
      boast that the world is quickly headed toward global democratization
      seems in retrospect a euphoric interlude--luring some of the worst
      idiocies in both right-wing and left-wing American politics (though
      arguably, Benghazi etc. was far milder than the fake WMDs and
      regional destabilization of 2003).

      JE comments:  Back in 2011-'12, was there anyone who thought Assad could win his civil war?  Probably not even Assad himself believed it.

      Gary, do you think the 2010s will go down in history as the Age of Neo-Autocracy?

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      • Are We in the Age of Neo-Autocracy? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 07/01/18 4:37 PM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        JE asked me, in view of Turkey's recent cementing of autocracy, in a field
        of neighboring autocracies, whether I thought the 2010s might be called
        the Age of Neo-Autocracy. Very interesting phrase, but I don't think so.
        It might instead be called the time of disillusionment on easy predictions of
        democratization trends. Insurrection always says it's for the people, in order
        to get the backing of the people, but statistically it almost always elevates
        the default: another strongman. There are notable and inspiring exceptions,
        and the insurrectionists always say they've got that lottery ticket.

        But the more I think about John's phrase, the more I see its point.
        What might be called the Chechenization of Syria (bulldoze it all and
        repopulate the ruins) has become a talking point for autocracy's biggest
        talkers, in Russia. A much larger philosophical battle is apparently being
        won in Syria, perhaps inevitably because the insurrection was so starry-eyed
        (were they going to build a free Syria on the handful of genuinely democratic
        revolutionaries?). Still, this is only one round in an endless philosophical fight.
        A difficulty with strongman governments is that often they enforce only the
        illusion of stability. If Somalia, say, had been closer to the Russian orbit,
        would we now have a Potemkin Somalia, rather than an outright Failed State?

        JE comments:  Stability, or illusion of stability?  Great question, Gary.  The only way to tell the difference is when the strongman goes, and chaos results.  Then the people inevitably yearn for another, ouch, strongman.

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        • The "Greek Cycle": Ochlocracy, Oligarchy, Tyranny (John Heelan, UK 07/02/18 4:48 AM)
          JE commented on July 1st, "The only way to tell the difference [between stability and the illusion of stability] is when the strongman goes, and chaos results. Then the people inevitably yearn for another, ouch, strongman."

          Is this not the Greek Cycle--Kyklos? It always puzzled me when many elderly Spanish citizens told me they looked back to the certainties of the Franco days with some nostalgia.

          Back to Greece: "According to Polybius, who has the most fully developed version of the cycle, it rotates through the three basic forms of government, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy and the three degenerate forms of each of these governments--ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny.

          Originally society is in ochlocracy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a monarchy. The monarch's descendants, who because of their family's power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny.

          Because of the excesses of the ruler, the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy.

          These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into ochlocracy, beginning the cycle anew.

          JE comments:  Ochlocracy is mob rule--oligarchy is pretty much the same thing, although the mob dresses better and belongs to the country club.

          At what point on the Greek kyklos is the US at present--ochlocracy, oligarchy, or tyranny?  Arguments could be made for all three.

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          • Poland's PiS and Pulaski, Tennessee; From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 07/03/18 4:15 AM)

            Gary Moore writes:

            Even amid the latest shake-up in the Hispanic world, the watershed
            presidential landslide in Mexico July 1--that test of "Venezuelización,"
            populism and anti-gabachismo--two other tracer bullets are arcing up
            from afar, in our Moderator's other heartland: Poland.

            1) Pundit Daniel Pipes is saying that Poland's ascendant nationalist party,
            PiS, should not be called "far right," but "civilizationist"--for its stand against
            Muslim immigration. Pipes's ordering of priorities is so sharp that he bluntly
            says the anti-Semitist thread in PiS should be cut a little slack because of its
            stand on the more urgent immigration issue. "Civilizationist." Word for the day?

            2) But fainter echoes lead also to Pulaski, Tennessee (named for the great Polish
            helper in history's exceptional revolution). But how, you say, could Pulaski possibly
            relate to today's great WAIS discussion by John Heelan, exploring the ancient
            Greek idea of "Kyklos" in politics? Well, John's explanation of the "Kyklos," with
            citation to Polybius, has society cycling through democracy, aristocracy and monarchy,
            as each form loses its virtue and has to be overthrown. And Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866,
            was where a band of recently mustered-out Confederate vets and country lawyers
            founded the Ku Klux Klan. The oft-quoted explanation for the name "Ku Klux," that
            it came from Greek "Kyklos," says the founders were just viewing themselves as a
            cozy circle of brothers. This has always sounded a little thin. So alternatively, could it
            be that John has led us to a major undiscovered insight into American history--that the
            very name of the Ku Klux Klan showed its grandiose self-image, tacitly saying that the
            nightriders were rebellious defenders of trounced virtue, out to overthrow the decadent,
            slave-loving federal government that had won the Civil War?

            Et tu, Civilizationist? Zatłoczony namiot.

            JE comments:  You have to give credit to Pipes for his certitude.  Some decades ago we learned to place quotation marks around "civilization" when used in the moral, rather than purely descriptive, sense.  Contrast "Mexica/Aztec civilization was polytheistic" (it's OK to say this) with "Columbus brought civilization to the benighted tribes of the New World" (it's not OK to say that).

            Gary, can you send the link to Pipes's essay?  Perhaps I'm misreading his PiS-praise.

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            • Daniel Pipes's "Rise of Western Civilizationalism" (John Eipper, USA 07/05/18 6:40 AM)

              Ed Jajko and Gary Moore both forwarded the link to the Daniel Pipes essay (April 14th) referenced in Gary's post of July 3rd.  Click below:


              Pipes struggles to find a new term for the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim movements taking hold in Central Europe.  For various reasons he rejects "far-right," "nativist" and "populist."  "Civilizationalist" doesn't cut it in my sensitive view, as it sets up the false dichotomy of civilization/barbarism.

              When talking about Orbán in Hungary or PiS in Poland, "far-right" and "nativist" work for me.  Does Pipes resent the appropriation of his neoconservative "right" mantle by a new political reality--call it what you will?

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              • Civilization, Barbarism, and Radical Cultural Relativism (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 07/06/18 3:24 AM)

                I don't think that "civilization vs barbarism" is actually a "false dichotomy," as John E described it on July 5th. 

                To assert that there is no such thing as civilization is to assert radical cultural relativism--no culture is more advanced than another, or better than another--just different. I don't believe that is true, and I do believe that you can speak of some cultures being relatively more civilized than others, or at least, that some customs or cultural features are better or worse. I do not think that it is true that burning widows, for example, is just a quaint local custom, no better or worse than our own local customs.*

                We just have to keep in mind that to say so is a nuanced judgement which is fraught with different hazards and pitfalls of chauvinism and so forth.

                I do not think that it is necessary to go over to complete cultural relativism, in order to have a decent, chauvinism-free understanding of the achievements of other cultures, or to see the drawbacks of one's own.

                *I am referring of course to the famous case of the English governor in colonial India, who stopped a widow from being burned after the death of her husband. The villagers protested, declaring that "but it is our custom to burn widows!" To which the governor replied "Yes, but it is our custom to hang those who burn widows."

                JE comments:  To counter the example of burning widows, one could cite King Leopold's barbarity in the Congo, or those crowning achievements of Western civilization:  the mechanized carnage of WWI and the incineration of whole cities in its sequel.

                We all have cultures we like better--I prefer a compassionate secular democracy with deep respect for human rights.  The trick, as Cameron Sawyer notes above, is to find a nuanced judgment of other cultures.  I would add that it's better to overcompensate on the side of relativism, as we will always be inclined to see ourselves as the civilized ideal and the Other as inferior.  This mindset is what leads to colonialism, military adventurism, and "nation-building."

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                • Cultural Relativism Again (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 07/08/18 4:10 AM)
                  JE wrote on July 6th: "To counter the example of burning widows, one could cite King Leopold's barbarity in the Congo, or those crowning achievements of Western civilization: the mechanized carnage of WWI and the incineration of whole cities in its sequel."

                  Yes, absolutely. The nuclear bombing of Japanese cities and the indiscriminate slaughter of the mostly non-combatant inhabitants, the Gulag, the Holocaust, the Tuskegee Experiment--you can go on and on about the glories of Western civilization.

                  But even these things do not mean that our civilization is no better or worse than any other, or that there is no such thing as progress. Or barbarism.

                  JE comments:  Interesting topic.  WAIS is about many things, but we're almost always engaged in the comparison of cultures.

                  Now we'll have to define progress.  More stuff?  Hygiene and cures for disease?  Laws
                  to protect private property?  Air conditioning?  

                  Tim Ashby (next) has sent a comment on Viscount Hardinge, Governor-General of India in the 1840s.  He may have been the first cultural relativist:  "It is your custom to burn widows; it is our custom to hang those who burn widows."

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                • Field Marshal Henry Hardinge in India (Timothy Ashby, Spain 07/08/18 4:32 AM)

                  Cameron Sawyer (July 6th) referred to the famous case of the English governor in colonial India, who stopped a widow from being burned after the death of her husband. The villagers protested, declaring that "but it is our custom to burn widows!" To which the governor replied, "Yes, but it is our custom to hang those who burn widows."

                  I believe that the British colonial official mentioned was Field Marshal Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge (1785-1856) who was Governor-General of India from 1844-48.

                  Hardinge epitomized the positive benefits of British imperialism during the Victorian era. He was an enlightened and energetic reformer during his tenure in India, yet with an appreciation for the benign elements of Indian civilization (he ordered the preservation of ancient monuments and art at a time when "muscular" Christian missionaries were destroying such things). He suppressed the traditional practices of slave-dealing, suttee, female infanticide, burning or drowning of lepers, and child mutilation by exerting influence on native rulers, using a carrot-and-stick approach (e.g. you'll be Britain's ally with all the benefits thereof if you do what we tell you, and if you don't we'll send the Sepoys in to install British administrators).

                  He also encouraged education by offering government employment to college-educated Indians and established the first school for training civil engineers (both native and European). Hardinge also introduced the cultivation of tea, began construction of the Ganges canal and developed plans for an Indian railway system. He built hospitals and orphanages using a combination of taxes raised from local rajas and charitable contributions from the upper and middle classes in Britain.

                  During his tenure as Governor-General, Hardinge was criticized by many British colonials for being too soft on the Indians, especially Indian soldiers (soldiers) in the Honourable East India Company's army who considered him a "good friend" because he abolished corporal punishment, increased the scale of pensions for wounds received in action, and imposed strict sanitary conditions for their barracks to reduce disease.

                  As a young officer, Hardinge served under Wellington during the Peninsular War and was cited for bravery under fire. When I was a teenager living in Spain during the early 1970s, I rode my old Bultaco Saturno 200cc motorbike throughout the Peninsula, using an original early 19th-century map titled "The Route of the British Columns Through Spain" to visit all the famous battlefields. I camped for the night on the Albuera battlefield where Hardinge had a key role in the victory of the British/Spanish forces over the French. In those days the battlefield was a lonely, eerie place, and I picked up regimental buttons, grapeshot and bits of human bones (I reburied the later).

                  JE comments:  Cultural relativists see the "enlightened" colonizer as an oxymoron, but what about those authorities who use their power to defend the rights of the powerless among the colonized peoples--widows, the enslaved, or (today) women subjected to genital mutilation?  The central dilemma:  how can you eliminate intolerance, without being intolerant?

                  Tim, you must tell us more about your "Motorcycle Diaries" trek around Spain.  Any surviving photos?  I'd love to post them on WAIS.

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                  • A Motorcycle Trek around Spain, 1973 (Timothy Ashby, Spain 07/10/18 6:34 AM)
                    John E asked me on July 8th:

                    "Tim, you must tell us more about your 'Motorcycle Diaries' trek around Spain. Any surviving photos? I'd love to post them on WAIS."

                    Alas, no. I was 19 at the time, did not have a camera, and doubt if I even considered making a photographic diary.

                    Spain was very different in those days (1973). This was still the Franco era and everyone was wary of the Guardia Civil. They seemed to be everywhere, even in remote villages, and would often accost me on dusty back roads and battlefields, suspicious of what I was doing there (they were utterly baffled by my interest in Peninsular War history). The country generally was very undeveloped. I can't recall any of the impressive autopistas that connect the municipal dots today, much less the amazing high-speed trains.

                    Rosemary and I bought a house in Mallorca in February and have spent the past few months renovating and furnishing it (photos below). We alternate two weeks on the island and two weeks in London. We're an hour from Palma Airport to the ENE, at a place called Cala Provensals near Font de sa Cala. We have the kind of businesses that are largely virtual, and with high speed internet (actually a superior fibre connection to our London WiFi) one can work anywhere these days. We're just a two hour flight from London, so can easily fly up and back for meetings in one day.

                    I love Mallorca. It is safe, secure, friendly and the cost of living is much lower than in the UK. We've given up on South Africa and hope that our house there sells before the market implodes. The political and security situation has deteriorated since my last posting about the country.

                    I'll do an update in a few months, but for now you can identify me as "Timothy Ashby, Mallorca"!

                    JE comments:  I'll make the update, but for some reason the WAIS website isn't allowing me to extract you from South Africa, Tim.  WAISdom's IT czar Roman Zhovtulya will have to investigate.

                    What a gorgeous house.  In the second photo you can catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean.  Expect me to drop by very soon...do you need a gardener or pool boy?

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                  • Does the "Enlightened Colonizer" Exist? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 07/11/18 3:17 AM)
                    As one who enjoys the wonderful delights of different cultures and abhors the trampling of cultural rights, I also agree with John Eipper's comment that foreign authorities must use their power to defend the rights of the powerless. (See Timothy Ashby, July 8th.)

                    This apparent contradiction can be easily explained by my belief in God the Universe, and that scientific knowledge must override mythology and religious superstition from all religious zealots hurting people. After reading Timothy Ashby's post, I am quite impressed by the great administrative performance by Field Marshal Henry Hardinge. While some of the native population may chose to see the glass half empty because of the other many negative side effects from colonialism, it would take an idiot cultural relativist not to see the great benefits from much of Hardinge's cultural intervention.

                    JE comments:  I didn't say that colonial authorities must use their power to defend the powerless.  Rather, I asked whether a colonizer who improves human rights can be considered "enlightened."  The examples are numerous, from prohibiting human sacrifice in the Americas to Mussolini outlawing Ethiopian slavery in 1935.  But let us consider just this last case--does freeing the enslaved justify a war of conquest?

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                    • Does Emancipation Justify War? (Timothy Ashby, Spain 07/11/18 5:32 AM)
                      When talking about Italy's conquest and colonization of Ethiopia, John E asked:

                      "Does freeing the enslaved justify a war of conquest?"

                      In the latter stages of the US Civil War, freeing the enslaved became the paramount justification for the North's war of conquest against the South (and it was truly a war of conquest and occupation).

                      By the way, following the Norman Conquest, the Domesday Book of 1086 records that around 10 percent of the English population were slaves.

                      JE comments: Ah, slavery and the US Civil War. Did the Peculiar Institution cause the war? Depends on who you ask. Did Lincoln fight against the Confederacy in order to free the slaves? No, at least not until 1863. Even the hallowed Emancipation Proclamation started out as a tactic to undermine the Confederate economy. Finally, did the North fight a war of conquest? This depends on whether you take the Confederacy as a legitimate nation or a separatist rebellion. How about a war of reconquest?

                      Does emancipation justify war?  Gosh, this depends on who you ask.

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              • Daniel Pipes's "Rise of Western Civilizationalism" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/06/18 6:47 AM)

                From my point of view as an Italian European, I find Daniel Pipes's essay "Rise of Western Civilizationalism" to be very good.

                Pipes could, however, have avoided his final paragraph or at least some sentences. For instance, he apparently holds the historical revisionists in contempt, but history is an art/science only if it is revisionist. Otherwise it becomes an oppressive and obtuse lay religion.

                Furthermore it is not correct to classify Vladimir Putin as a dictator. On the contrary, Putin's cooperation will be necessary to save the European peoples. Of course there are anti-EU feelings, because such a badly conceived and poorly realized institution is a failure. At the same time, the anti-American outlooks are due to the self-defeating wars started by the Empire creating no victories but only chaos which is extremely appreciated by its extremist allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. And why not Turkey? See the troubles in the Balkans (part of the new desired future Ottoman Empire).

                The situations of the undocumented immigrants is terrible.  On top of millions of local unemployed you cannot pour additional millions of mostly unskilled new arrivals.

                But the worst is that too many Islamists want to impose their rules on the locals, starting from the savage killing of goats, sheep, etc. to recognizing only the Sharia Courts.  See the frightening situation in England and other European nations or creating free Islamic states as in the suburbs of the main towns of France, Belgium, etc. Also there are attempts to create such unlawful areas in Italy.

                Remember what Oriana Fallaci in 2005 said about "Eurabia" when received the Annie Taylor Award and the prophetic words of Gaddafi: "There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe--without guns, without swords. It will turn into a Muslim continent within a few decades thanks to the Muslim immigrants and the wombs of their women."

                JE comments:  How is Putin not a dictator?  Because he--like Erdogan--submits to the formalities of regular elections?  Returning to Pipes, in his "happier" days he was a leading voice of what Eugenio Battaglia calls the "Empire," and a major proponent of interventionism.  I wouldn't think Eugenio Battaglia would be very sympathetic.

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                • Is Putin a Dictator? (Istvan Simon, USA 07/09/18 9:29 AM)
                  Eugenio Battaglia often says truly amazing, and in my view, false statements.

                  In Eugenio's post of July 6th he praises Daniel Pipes and affirms that Putin is not a dictator. I will not comment much on Pipes, who seems to me a bit obsessed in "saving" Europe from Muslim immigration. Though this is a popular point of view in some quarters, it reminds me of Germany in the 1970s which at the time had a major wave of Muslim immigration from Turkey as guest workers. That generation has been completely absorbed in German society. and I do not think that it caused any major problems for Germany. I think that it seems likely that similarly the current wave will not cause major problems either, though of course German authorities need to be alert about the ultra-religious right-wing terrorism that some Muslim immigrants espouse. They seem to be a small minority of the immigrants, and if their radical preachers are stopped, the minority will cease to be a problem in the long run.

                  As for Putin, of course he is a dictator. It is truly amazing that Eugenio does not think so. To begin with elections in Russia are a ridiculous mockery, because opposition is suppressed, and TV is completely dominated by Putin. By denying the opposition a voice, Putin keeps being re-elected. Opposition candidates are exiled or murdered outright in plain sight. Thus there is no viable opposition to Putin, and his crimes are not even discussed on TV. I have met many Russians that frankly say that they all hate Putin, but the domination of the press makes their voices unheard.

                  He is completely corrupt, a multi-billionaire, which he did not become from his government salary. He is also ruthless. Just today it was in the news that his nerve agent caused a completely innocent woman to lose her life in the UK. In my opinion Great Britain and all other European countries and the United States and Canada should break diplomatic relations with Russia in protest.

                  JE comments:  I see dictatorship along a spectrum, from the Stalin or Saddam Hussein word-is-law absolute to the "democratic" dictatorships of a Maduro or (yes) Putin.  The latter group maintains the window dressing of parliaments and regular elections--but how significant is the difference in reality?  "Democratic" dictatorships might even be more nefarious, precisely because they can wrap themselves in the mantle of democracy.

                  Returning to the Turkish Gastarbeiters of the 1960s and '70s:  weren't they largely secular, and therefore more likely to assimilate?  I hope Yusuf Kanli will comment.

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                • Daniel Pipes's "Rise of Western Civilizationalism" (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA 07/10/18 2:15 PM)
                  This is a response to Eugenio Battaglia 's post titled "Daniel Pipes's 'Rise of Western Civilizationalism'" (July 6th).

                  I had long stayed away from WAIS for a variety of reasons. A couple of days ago, the current chaos everywhere prompted me to go the WAIS website in the hopes of finding some WAISdom. In so doing, I came across Eugenio's post, a post that both surprised and shocked me.

                  I had seen some of Eugenio's posts a while back and found what I read to be valuable and interesting. But what of his latest?

                  It does not concern me that he praised Daniel Pipes, but it bothers me that someone I thought to be insightful and informed should praise a neoconservative whose sole purpose seems to be to incite hatred towards Muslims.

                  Eugenio wrote: "Too many Islamists want to impose their rules on the locals, starting from the savage killing of goats, sheep, etc. to recognizing only the Sharia Courts. See the frightening situation in England and other European nations or creating free Islamic states as in the suburbs of the main towns of France, Belgium, etc. Also there are attempts to create such unlawful areas in Italy."

                  Jewish and Muslim methods of animal slaughter are so similar that that they could be identical. Does Eugenio feel the same about the Jewish ritual slaughter of animals--shechita? If so, why did he point out Muslims only?

                  Personally, I avoid meat. This is not for health reasons but because it pains me to eat animals.  Especially living here in the US one sees pictures of so much animal abuse in industrial-scale beef, pig, and chicken farming that it makes me ashamed to be a human. But my compassion for the animals does not make me lash out at a group of people who have been maligned and attacked so that hatred of these people--the Muslim refugees--can be justified.

                  Is hatred ever justified? I don't know, but I don't understand how those who have been victims of bigotry and hatred could hate without going into deep psychoanalysis and I am certainly not qualified to do that. But I can remind us of a a not too distant past--an editorial in The New York Times written in the aftermath of lynchings:

                  "These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cut-throat practices, and the oath-bound societies of their native country, are to us a pest without mitigation. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they... Lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans to stay the issue of a new license to the Mafia to continue its bloody practices." (New York Times Editorial, March 16, 1891 as cited by PRI : "A brief history of America's hostility to a previous generation of Mediterranean migrants - Italians") https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-26/brief-history-america-s-hostility-previous-generation-mediterranean-migrants ).

                  Are we to lynch the refugees we made as the US did with the Italians?

                  I highly recommend reading this sordid history of our past. It should at least make Eugenio's Italian blood boil, for at that time "The immigrants were portrayed in parts of the media as ignorant, insular, superstitious, lazy, prone to crime, ignorant of the law, ignorant of democracy and prone to righting wrongs with personal vendettas and acts of violence. Even their food was seen as alien. One popular book published in 1907 stated baldly that "'immigrants from eastern and southern Europe are storming the Nordic ramparts of the United States and mongrelizing the good old American stock.'"

                  There is one difference between this ugly past and the present state of Europe that was referred to in this post. Americans and Europeans attacked, occupied, plundered the resources and killed the people now in Europe seeking to practice their "barbaric religion."

                  The flow of refugees can certainly be burdensome on states. At the same time, there is no doubt whatsoever that people do not want to be refugees! So why don't we stop bombing them into fleeing? Is there a single country mentioned by Eugenio that is innocent of creating so much human misery? Surely this anger and frustration should be directed at the governments responsible for creating refugees instead of victimizing the victims of foreign interference.

                  I am reminded of a meeting I attended at The Milken Institute Southern California in 2006. The speaker, a notorious neocon, Max Boot, had ideas about the "enemy" and how they should be fought. Referring to the 1859 invasion of Sudan by the British, he spoke of the ease with which the crazy "jihadist Mahdi" and his followers were gunned down without any fear of repercussion that the enemy, the terrorist Sudanese who were defending themselves from occupation, would follow the good guys who had gone to Sudan to invade the country, back to England.

                  We continue to think that we can attack and destroy and maintain our "civilized society" pure.

                  I do want to end with one last thought: Imagine how other nations felt when they were attacked (not refugees) and the Western culture imposed on them? The Western civilization may think itself "civilized," and perhaps it is, but from whose perspective--that of the West?

                  JE comments:  Veteran WAISers certainly remember Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, who has been on an extended WAIS sabbatical.  It's always great to hear from a long-lost colleague!

                  I will let Eugenio Battaglia respond for himself, but I believe Soraya is misreading the general tendencies of Eugenio's thought.  He is anything but an interventionist, "neocon" kind of guy.  Rather, he is against the imposition of outside cultures of any sort, whether it be the Islamization of Western Europe or (especially) the nation-building adventurism of the United States.

                  Moreover, Eugenio loves animals as much as Soraya does.  Indeed, caring for God's furry creatures is one thread that unites WAISers of every political stripe.  (I will add one caveat:  Soraya prefers dogs, while Eugenio and I are cat people--the Italians would call us gattaras/crazy cat ladies.)

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                  • My Views on Immigration, Self-Determination (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/11/18 8:53 AM)
                    I an completely dismayed by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich's post of July 10th, and I humbly ask her for forgiveness if I have unwittingly offended her.

                    Our esteemed moderator JE has already clarified my thoughts.

                    Soraya has probably not read many of my WAIS posts. I have always defended the Palestinians, and have related my wonderful relations with Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, when I lived among them. I am also very sympathetic toward the great Persian culture and an admirer of the efforts of the Iranians in their fight in Syria.

                    In reality in my original post I also condemned the Jewish practice of killing animals according to their shechita, but my wording may have been unclear and it was edited out.

                    I am strongly in favor of the independence of all peoples. But at the same time I want to live in my country, according our traditions, without the imposition of foreign customs.

                    When the first undocumented immigrants arrived to my hometown, everybody tried to help them. A Central African married a cousin of mine. He was a wonderful fellow. When the first Moroccan arrived to our neighborhood selling carpets everybody would offer him a coffee or a drink while sitting in a bar and talking of his country/family.

                    The problem arose when on top of our huge unemployment, hundreds of thousands of new undocumented immigrants arrived suddenly. It was impossible to integrate them. Moreover, many of them want to impose their customs on the locals and that is unacceptable--just as it was unacceptable for them to accept the imposition of European customs.

                    About Daniel Pipes, I praised only his understanding of the European situation and absolutely not his position as an imperialist neocon. Frankly it was the first article by him that I read.

                    A final thought, I also believe that people have the right to fight and defend their country. Therefore I am dismayed to see the many young fellows who say they are escaping from the war. As citizens of a country they have the duty to remain at home and fight. I passed through a war, accepting the fact and doing everything possible even as child for victory, while my friends who were only a few years older, let's say 16 or so, volunteered to fight against the invading enemy even if it was clear that the war was lost.

                    Again sorry for the misunderstanding.

                    JE comments:  Eugenio Battaglia's worldview has always been consistent, although it is difficult for Americans to grasp and even more so, to "pigeonhole."  He and I disagree on many points, but there's one thing I greatly admire:  Eugenio's humility and generosity (OK, that's two things).

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          • More on the "Greek Cycle": How Do You Prevent Tyranny? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 07/05/18 11:06 AM)
            Thanks to John Heelan (July 2nd) for reminding us of the classic Greek Cycle-kyklos concept, somehow forgotten in the mist of my old youthful readings of Plato and other classic authors.

            This vicious cycle of political history in societies must be understood it in its historical context, yet it seems to be in force in many examples today. It raises a crucial question: Is it possible to break the cycle to obtain democratic stability?

            I suppose the question is related to how we define democracy. This is an issue which, even today, WAISers seem to have no consensus, after discussing the question many times.

            Maybe John forgot to mention some of the ancient Greeks' suggestions to break this vicious cycle:

            --To reduce changes or modifications in the basic democratic law, the constitution.

            --To mix the three basic systems into one, obtaining the best of all of them.

            --An uncorrupted judicial system.

            --The middle class must be strong and numerous.

            --A strong educational system.

            Of course I would add some other measures to preserve modern democracies and prevent negative developments of the cycle:

            --A true separation of political powers.

            --Strong democratic institutions.

            --Good social moral and ethical standards.

            --Freedom of speech and expression.

            --Public awareness or strong sense of citizenship responsibility and political participation

            --Healthy and responsible political parties.

            I am pretty sure there would be many other factors which could protect modern democracies from falling into the degenerate forms of ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny. In fact I believe many of current world political systems enjoy the benefits and privileges of democracy because they have wisely applied, partially or completely, "correctives" of the above kinds.

            In conclusion, despite the so-called democratic crisis in Europe or the US, I am optimistic regarding the future of mature democracies and I do not foresee their collapse or degeneration into more perverse forms of government. Consider for example the Representative Monarchy form, as an example of a blending of two of the systems.

            It is more difficult to assert the same in other countries in other parts of the world, such as South America or possibly Asia, where incipient, emerging, and immature democracies are mired in deep crisis or are at the risk of being transformed into ochlocracies or tyrannies.

            JE comments:  Following Jefferson's claim, I would add that a free and vigorous press is also essential.

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