How does the political magnitude of the siege of the Capitol building by the buffalo head and his kin fare compared to, say, the series of assassinations of the incumbent president JFK, his brother presidential candidate RFK, black civil rights movement’s historical leader MLK? Or compared with the threat against democracy that control of the entire pans of industry, public tenders and construction companies, the unions by the Cosa Nostra firmly based in NY over a decade long period? Or with 9/11 terror attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?
If we dare fathom other similar challenges that “western democracies” endured how does it compare with times and events such as: the “troubles” and events like the Brighton hotel bombing by the IRA; series of political and mafia killings in Italy including prosecutor Falcone and P2 lodge related scandal; France’s long Algerian War with two assassination attempts against President De Gaulle and a failed coup d’état; ETA, corruption scandals that engulfed the royal family even reaching out to the king himself in Spain; Stammheim, Red Army, NSU murders in Germany etc.
As we the “pundit-tourists” express shock and awe with the unfolding details of the siege of the Capitol, mostly our disbelief is due to the fact this happened in the USA, the oldest and the strongest democracy in the world, in the capital city of the global superpower. Especially, for us down here in Turkey whose aptitude to get surprised is kind of and rightly so, numbed by the daily attacks that our already relegated travesty of a democracy sustains, it could have as well be business as usual. Yet, “us” is not running our government and we still expect a modicum of decency and common sense even if only based on pragmatism but not moral high ground.
No, the speakers like Mr. Altun and Mr. Kalın adopted on behalf of the presidency a thinly veiled and ill-placed sarcastic tone in their public reactions. Official mouthpiece TRT chose to interview characters like the neo-fascist “Proud Boys” leader Enrique Tarrio. In its press statement the Foreign Ministry “called on ALL PARTIES in the U.S. to maintain restraint and prudence” thus equivocating the mob with the representatives locked inside. These followed the same vein as the GONGO SETA’s director H.B. Yalçın’s denigrating of soon to be NSC MENA Coordinator Brett McGurk as a “PKK sympathizer.”
Hence the meat of the story: President Erdoğan’s and his cabinet’s approach to Biden administration does not augur well. Even though seasoned Obama hands like Blinken, Sullivan, Austin, Nuland, Sherman, Sloat and McGurk who are well known to the rank and file of the Turkish diplomacy will not need any hands on training to get Turkey right they do not appear to be seen as problem solving interlocutors for Ankara. On the contrary, they will be part of the “problem.” The names that are being floated after the disqualification of Morell for the CIA Director post, as far as I looked through them via open sources, do not fare well either in that account, if anyone had the idea to use intelligence services as a back-channel of cooperation that is.
There is and there will be one channel only, back or front and that is the one through number ones in Ankara and in DC respectively. Based on our four-year experience of the way bilateral relations were conducted by Ankara during Trump’s soap opera reign, we have all the reasons to believe that the “creative minds” at the palace would already be at work in trying to chart a similar course. TAIK chairman Yalçındağ would be angling to find a direct phone number to President Biden, while others would be mulling the idea whether his son Hunter can replicate Jared and reached via Ukraine –in short, use your wildest imagination.
Nevertheless, we also have all the reasons to be convinced that the reaction or lack thereof of Ankara towards the siege of the Capitol building is well taken note of by the Biden administration. That, however, can be welcome news from a different perspective. If hypocrisy, wheeled around as realpolitik with a moustache on, does not prevail as usual, the newcomers in the White House, the Pentagon, the Foggy Bottom and Langley can reconsider their agendas and try to make an effort to push promotion of freedom and democracy higher up their priority lists. Not out of a starry eyed romanticism but for their own sake.
If the new administration intends to reclaim the mantle for the US its much tarnished bid to be the “shining city on a hill” it has a tall order to start with. The way the old-timer newcomers will tackle the hard Turkey case will provide us with an early opportunity to have a glimpse of the path they will be taking. Naturally, they will have a clean slate and as argued here-above the despicable invasion of the Capitol may just have provided them with an unexpected head-start. For now, we can only wish them well in their future endeavours.
Are you curious about your humble servant’s sincere take? You are not. But I will dispense with my wisdom abundantly anyway: Nothing will happen after all. The know-all clerks will prevail at the end of the day. It will just take a while as others will go through the motions. As Chris Stapleton sings: “I've looked for love in all the same old places / Found the bottom of a bottle's always dry.” Unfortunately so.