Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 18th, 2016

And the Purge Begins In Turkey:

Planned before the failed military coup

The coup in Turkey is over, and now the purge begins.

On Saturday, Turkish soldiers and police—those who had remained loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the uncertain hours of the previous day—were rounding up their enemies across the security services, reportedly arresting thousands. There will be thousands more.

In the high-stakes world of Turkish politics—nominally democratic but played with authoritarian ferocity—justice for the losers will be swift and brutal.

The remarkable thing about Friday’s coup attempt is not that it failed but that, after years of Erdoğan’s relentless purging of his opposition, there was a faction inside the Turkish military strong enough to mount one at all.

The confrontation was a long time coming.

When Erdoğan first became Prime Minister, in 2003, he was the Islamic world’s great democratic hope, a leader of enormous vitality who would show the world that an avowedly Islamist politician could lead a stable democracy and carry on as a member of NATO, too.

Those hopes evaporated quickly.

Erdoğan, who was elected Turkey’s president in 2014, has taken a page from Vladimir Putin’s playbook, using democratic institutions to legitimize his rule while crushing his opponents, with an eye to ultimately smothering democracy itself.

Over the past decade, Erdoğan has silenced, marginalized, or crushed nearly anyone in the country who might oppose him, including newspaper editors, university professors, aid workers, and dissident politicians. (What an irony that Erdoğan, who has imprisoned so many journalists, and gone to great lengths to censor Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, may have saved his Presidency by using FaceTime to make an early Saturday appearance on a Turkish television news channel.)

President Obama and other Western leaders, seeing Erdoğan as a bulwark against chaos, largely gave him a pass.

In his most recent grab for authoritarian powers, Erdoğan pushed through a law that stripped members of parliament of immunity from prosecution, a measure that his critics fear, with good reason, that he will use to remove the few remaining lawmakers who still oppose him.

Then there’s the military.

Since the Turkish republic was founded, in 1923, the county’s generals have imagined themselves the ultimate arbiters of its politics, stepping into power—sometimes savagely—whenever they felt the government had become either too leftist or too Islamic.

(After the military overthrew a democratically elected government in 1960, the generals executed the Prime Minister.) The military has had a special contempt for Erdoğan, whom they regarded as a dangerous Islamist—but they have proven no match for him.

In 2007, Erdoğan’s henchmen initiated a series of show trials, known collectively as Sledgehammer, in which fabricated evidence was used to remove the top tier of the Turkish officer corps.

Hundreds were sent to prison, and the military itself seemed banished from politics forever.

Indeed, Erdoğan must have been surprised that there was still a dissident faction of the armed forces large enough to try to bring him down. On Friday, the coup’s organizers didn’t even have the sense to detain the man they were trying to overthrow, and they apparently never seriously contemplated shooting their way into the palace.

(After a coup in 1980, the military killed and imprisoned tens of thousands.) In the wake of their failure, the military will be soon be under Erdoğan’s total control, like virtually every other institution in the country.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

Erdogan called the coup attempt “a gift from god.” He even called the Turkish army The army of Mohammad|By Dexter Filkins. July 16, 2016

In his dramatic appearance at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on Friday night, Erdoğan blamed the insurrection on the exiled cleric Fatullah Gulen, a reclusive figure who lives in the Poconos (Pennsylvania). “I have a message for Pennsylvania,’’ Erdoğan said, a reference that must have baffled many non-Turks. “You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country.”

Gulen, an aging cleric who heads one of the world’s largest Islamic orders, fled Turkey in 1999, when it appeared that the military was going to arrest him.

For years, Gulen was one of Erdoğan’s closest allies, helping him in his rise to power. While Gulen preaches a message of love and tolerance, there has often been something mysterious about him and his followers, who do not readily advertise either their affiliation or their intentions.

Over the years, Gulen’s followers quietly found positions within many Turkish institutions, particularly the courts and police. (It was the Gulenists who led the show trials against the generals and the press.)

In 2008, James Jeffrey, the American ambassador, wrote a memo about the Gulenist infiltration of the Turkish National Police. “The assertion that the T.N.P is controlled by the Gulenists is impossible to confirm, but we have found no one who disputes it,” Jeffrey said.

Then, in 2013, Gulen and Erdoğan split, in what appears to be part of a naked struggle for power.

In the years since, Erdoğan has purged the courts and police of thousands of men and women presumed to be Gulen loyalists. It’s hard to know whether Gulen was behind Friday’s attempted putsch, but at this point it seems unlikely.

While Gulen’s followers predominated in the security services, they were not generally believed to be a large force inside the military. It seems more likely that the officers who led the revolt represented the remnant of the military’s old secular order. Now they’re finished.

During his speech last night at the Istanbul airport, Erdoğan referred to the attempted coup as a “gift from God.” Erdoğan is usually a precise speaker, but in this case, perhaps in his excitement, he showed his cards.

With the coup attempt thwarted, he will no doubt seize the moment. In recent months, Erdogan has made little secret of his desire to rewrite the constitution to give himself near total power. There will be no stopping him now.

Note 1: French foreign minister reminded Erdogan that the military coup cannot extend Erdogan any blank check to do whatever he pleases: No executions or trials without due process. The EU constitution should be respected, otherwise, Turkey should kiss good-bye to adhering to the EU

Note 2: The Turkish police force invaded the US Injerlik air-force base, confirming my conjecture that the US was partially behind this coup.

Note 3: Summer tourism to Turkey is Shot. Greece will take the slack. Instability is there to stay for a long while.

Note 4: The successive news are confirming my story


Calhoun College: Named after a prodigious slave-trader

“It was a picture of slaves that just—you know, as soon as you look at it, it just hurts. You feel it in your heart.”

Steven Salaita posted

Many are sharing the story of Corey Menafee, the Yale University dishwasher who got fired for breaking a stained glass window depicting slavery.

Calhoun College, where the picture hung, is named after a prodigious slave-trader (like much at Yale).

Like many of you, I have at least a distant sense of what Menafee was feeling. He explains, “And I don’t know, something inside me said, you know, that thing has to come down. You know, it’s a picture—it was a picture that just—you know, as soon as you look at it, it just hurts. You feel it in your heart.”

Menafee perfectly describes what so many of us feel when we see yet another person choked or beaten or murdered by policemen who will, we know (because we’ve seen it hundreds of times), walk free and claim their pensions;

When the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) deploys cluster bombs and white phosphorous and incinerates blocks of residential areas, leaving entire families dead in one another’s embrace;

When the machines of technocratic warfare drone aloft and drop bombs on funerals and wedding parties; When Indigenous peoples the world over are forced off their lands by national forces in the employ of multinational corporations.

Sometimes you have to be loud, crude, disorderly.

Sometimes you have to break shit–with words, footsteps, or broomsticks.

Sometimes you have to lose your job.

Sometimes you’re just tired of the totality, the ascendancy, the ubiquity of oppression, and the complicity of its dapper and decorous guardians.

Sometimes you exhaust all means of exercising control.

We’re too conditioned to play by rules designed to restrict the possibilities of freedom. In the end, “dialogue” is just another liberal defense of private property.

The feeling Menafee describes will always have more power than appeals to patience or civilized norms of etiquette.

Menafee needs to be reinstated (with back pay and a raise); and Yale should rename the damn college after Menafee.

I Should Have Told Barbara (Jan. 2003)

Note: I decided to re-edit this story by deleting sections that go on tangent.

The day before my trip to Los Angeles in the summer of 1976

The girl friend, of a dear friend of mine, asked me to get in touch with her sister Barbara.

I were in the USA since June of 1975, my first trip ever outside my country.

The International Office at the University arranged a group trip,

For one week to California, for some of us new international students.

We were to meet families in this exchange program.

I did not care meeting any American families for the time being,

But I needed to get away in my first summer and wanted to see California.


The International student advisor knew about my origin.

The program matched me with an old couple in Pasadena, without warning me,

The family had a fourteen-year old boy, or maybe he was their grand child.

I was Not that curious: They looked pretty old to me.

The husband was very helpful and friendly

But his wife gave me the impression that she agreed reluctantly to join the program.

A student from Nigeria was assigned to the same family.

The house was large with a garden.  The interior looked old, traditional, gloomy,

Dark and smelling like it was never aerated and reeking of old people.


The same evening they asked the Nigerian student a few questions

But I was spared this torture, may be because I didn’t look that forthcoming.

Or that they figured out I’ll be very sensitive to whatever pertinent questions they might ask.

It is a crime to surprise youth among old people.

Youth has to be forewarned, to be prepared on what to expect from elder people.


Youth has to be reminded that elderly can be wonderful and much active,

That elder people are great people, still very much living humans,

Who could be funny, charming and could be very functional…


We had a general gathering the first day with all the host families and various students,

Then we were given the daily program of places to see and I barely paid attention to.

We were to see Disney Land the next day for free.

I declined the invitation: Disney Land is for kids.


I remember that I had another chance to visit Disney for free, two years later.

I again declined. Disney was still just for kids.

Many years later, I discovered that everybody liked to see Disney, including kids.

I never saw Disney in California, but the smaller version in Orlando with my nephews.

My little nephews and nieces, five in total then, loved Disney.

Not as much as I did enjoy the day.


My host drove me for an hour to the meeting place with Barbara.

He drove two hours to pick me up three hours later.

Youth: ruthless, mindless, uncompromising, and unappreciative.


I still can visualize Barbra after thirty years, coming toward me,

In white shirt, long brown skirt reaching below her knees,

Almost touching her long brown cowboy boots.

Her boots must have added several inches to her stature.

She is shorter than me in an after thought.


But the vision is always of a tall and grand lady.

She appeared taller than me but my pride increased correspondingly, by her side.

Her then long blonde-brown hair was raised over her beautiful head.

She was glamour incarnate.

She hugged me and made me feel I was a dear friend, of long time, whom she missed.

She spoke with effusion and earnestness.

She wanted to know all that is to know, instantly,

About how her sister is doing, what about her sister’s boyfriend who was my friend,

About their relationship, about Oklahoma her home State,

About everything, but nothing about me, or how I feel.

I was glad that I was not the object of the conversation then,

But not so glad now.


We walked together so close, and I was walking on air.


I felt that I must look the most envied guy,

A most glamorous guy in the whole wide world.


I asked permission from my host family to move at Barbara’s,

For the duration of the program, and they agreed.

I walked to Beverly Hills the next morning to see her in the fashion store she managed.

She received me like a VIP and was happy at my surprised visit.

I wanted to be with Barbara every second of my trip to California.


I accepted to attend a conference in Los Angeles a couple of years later:

Hoping to see Barbara again.

It was an important political conference but my heart was not in it.

My friends drove me through Beverly Hills

Where the rich and glamorous live but I was not impressed.

Finally, giving up, they gave me a lift from Anaheim to West Hollywood.


I called up Barbara and I invited myself to stay overnight at her apartment.

She had many friends.

She was attached at the moment to a fashionable young man,

Working in fashion and with fashion, but they had problems.

She appeared depressed and disappointed and not in the mood for me.

Her TV was on 24 hours.

I slept and woke up with the TV on.


I visited her six years later during my second extended trip to the USA:

Barbara’s sister had told me that Barbara was married and living in Oklahoma City.

I met Barbara and she did not look the Barbara of my vision.

Her skin looked darker, her face emaciated,

Down to earth, resigned and decked in simple blue jeans and an old black sweater.


She was married to a full-blooded American Indian, herself a half-blooded,

A soft spoken husband, a polite artist who toured the USA exhibiting his paintings.

She stayed at home designing jewellery and managing her man’s business.

I accepted her invitation for a Thanksgiving lunch.


I went down to Oklahoma City for an important and specific purpose of mine:

I was determined to tell Barbara my secret.

I went down with my steady girl friend at the time.

Barbara’s eyes had an ironic shine looking at my oriental short friend.

She asked my friend all kinds of questions about our relationship,

How we met and what are our plans.


Barbara said to me: “You know someone needs news about your friend”.

She meant that her sister needed to know the whereabouts of her ex-husband.

I had lost track of the whereabouts of my friend too and could not be of much help.

Barbara was entitled to know the truth,

That the first time she walked with me,

She made me feel that I was the most glamorous guy in town.

But I did not tell Barbara the truth.


I don’t recall that I talked during my two hours stay at Thanksgiving.

Maybe it did not feel right at that moment

But I should have persevered on my initial decision:

This truth is hers no matter what.

She could be eighty, but age does not erase the feeling,

That to my young eyes,

She was the most glamorous woman I set my eyes on.

She could be a hundred, but age does not change the fact,

That Barbara made me once walk on air.


Maybe if I had told Barbara, I wouldn’t have wrote this story.

You can’t ask customers what they want

… not if your goal is to find a breakthrough.

Because your customers have trouble imagining a breakthrough.

You ought to know what their problems are, what they believe, what stories they tell themselves.

But it rarely pays to ask your customers to do your design work for you.

So, if you can’t ask, you can assert. You can look for clues, you can treat different people differently, and you can make a leap.

You can say, “assuming you’re the kind of person I made this for, here’s what I made.”

The risk here is that many times, you’ll be wrong.

But if you’re not okay with that, you’re never going to create a breakthrough.




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