Writing Armageddon

Writing Armageddon
Furious writing or writing furiously?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A potential unanticipated result of the failed coup

Anyone who has been watching politics in Turkey in the last two years, if not longer, would be stunned by the monumental inefficacy of the opposition parties. Introvert, infighting - it has pretty much let the government make all the changes it seeks. The excuse it presented was the deep ideological divides of Kemalist Turkey. The real excuse was the fact that it could rely on the army to make the crucial political choices. This is why the Kemalist parties never succeeded in winning Anatolia for 50+ years. Because they always expected the army to save them from the majority. Perhaps this is the greatest pernicious effect of politics dominated by extra-institutional actors. The infantilization of politics. Like a spoiled kid whose parents are always there to save it from its mistakes, parties that can rely on the army (or something else) to save them from defeat can never learn or adapt to win democratic politics. By their weakness they aid and abet authoritarianism by not providing credible alternatives to the challengers.

This is what the opposition in Turkey had become. If one watched the antics of the last two years, one would assume that these parties were not faced by an existential threat. And in their eyes they were not because they had the “save button” of the army. Well last weekend that is over. The Turkish military is done for as a political institution in Turkey. The era of infantilization is over. There are no more excuses for amateurism. They must become political adults. They are now central players in the game of thrones. And they will either learn to play or die. A new era for democratic politics in Turkey has arisen. Whether this will lead to a regime closer to illiberalism or closer to liberalism is now a question of politics.  But the politics of the Kemalist Republic, with it Army Daddy, are over.

-Guest author

Monday, July 18, 2016

Some Facts on Coups

Some Facts on Coups
by Konstantinos Travlos

With the failed coup d’etat attempt in Turkey, there is a lot of analysis going on, but little of it is of social scientific value. Already voices talk of an “orchestrated” coup citing both its failure and seemingly amateur character (for an example see here . In general the American neo-conservatives are lamenting the failure of thecoup ). But let us look at some facts.

1) Coups Fail more than they Succeed. Using the Center for Systemic Peace (known for the important Polity Dataset) COUP D’√ČTAT EVENTS, 1946-2014 Dataset we can discern a basic truth. Of 841 coup and potential coup observations in the 1946-2014 period,  549 are certain coup attempts. Of those 549 cases, 40% succeeded (224) and 60% failed (325). That means that on average the likelihood of a coup succeeding is less than 50% of the time. Coups tend to fail, and while we tend to remember the successes, it is good to keep in mind that brutal fact. While we do not have coup data in the 19th century, my anecdotal evidence leads me to hypothesize a similar ratio, if not worse for success.

Greek officers, members of the failed 1935 coup, being publicly stripped of their military ranks.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My failed coup experience (using my facebook logs)

My failed coup experience (using my facebook logs)

I have now lived through a failed coup attempt in Istanbul. In the interest of posterity I am making available the sequence of events as I lived them, based on my Facebook account activity. I live in the Acibadem-Hasanpasha Area on the Asian Side. I am safe.

10:30-11:00 I am watching Borgen S3E1. I get a message from a friend in Greece asking me if I am well. Friend tells me a coup is being attempted

11:00-11:10 I hear the rumbling of what can only be tanks or APCs. I run out. People are congregating. I cannot see the military vehicles, but I can hear them. The people are agitated and when I ask asker? Some of them nob. I go back inside.

11:10-11:30 I call my parents in Greece to make sure to tell them I am safe. I open up the VPN to retain internet access and begin interacting with other friends in turkey to learn news

12:00-12:30 I learn the a curfew has been declared by the coup members. I can still hear cars running. Sporadic honking also, an indicator of support for the government

1:00 Friends report to me that many generals have declared their loyalty to the government (after the fact I learn that it is the most important officer in Istanbul, the commander of the 1st Army). Also that people are congregating at the airport to welcome the President

1:25 I log in to report heavy rifle fire in the area.

1:33 Prayers are called from the Mosques. Political message as well. Mosques are blaring at full volume. I discern the word asker.

1:35 Multiple indicators in the area that the curfew is definitely not obeyed.

1:38 I can faintly hear massive crowds

2:05 I can still hear sporadic gun-fire. But not sure if it is a battle like at 1:25 or celebratory.

2:58 I attempt to go to sleep but I am awakened by a fighter jet either breaking the sound barrier or dropping sonic bombs.

3:20 Lengthy text message received on the phone from the President.

3:38-3:41 Fighters still flying over area.

4:05 Demonstration Continue as I can hear the chants and honking. I can hear helicopters.

4:13-4:23 Last call of prayers from the mosques. Very long announcement follows.