"Perhaps you read that John Edwards, his family, and staff managed to consume 168 cans of Diet Coke during their just-completed 6-day tour of New Hampshire. That's a big number. But it wasn't the only big number that Team Edwards talked about in the Granite State."
Give me a break. It's painfully clear that every candidate is trying to appear more like the guy next door (beer seems to be the method of choice) and fill us in about all the unimportant details of their campaigns, but this is just stupid. No one cares how much Diet Coke John Edwards consumes, and we certainly don't care how much his staffers drink.
Blogs are for instant campaign news and a place where grassroots organization can happen. They are not places to bore potential supporters with petty facts. So no more of that, k? Thanks.
Things have been somewhat slow here in Istanbul. I've spent a lot of time in class and have learned quite a bit about the Turkish state and its relationships with its neighbors and its perception of itself. August 30 was "Victory Day" here in Turkey. It marks the day the Turkish defeated the Greeks and other imperial powers and claimed Anatolya solely for Turks. Every huge building was adorned with a flag just as large, and Turkish navy destroyers were anchored ominously in the Bosphorus. Pictures of Atatürk were everywhere, but of course that's nothing new.
Unlike much of the rest of the west, Turkey failed to learn the lesson from World War I that Nationalism is a dangerous animal. The earliest history of the Republican era in Turkey shows that, indeed, Nationalism fueled much of the creative motives of the Turkish state. Greeks were kicked out of Anatolya, Armenians were "marched" out for being allying with the Russians (read: for not being Turkish), and immigration standards have been highly slanted to benefit ethnic Turks ever since.
This is a nation of Turks, for Turks, but not by Turks. It is a nation that has no problem including occasional military coups in its definition of democracy. Last time I checked having the military step in to the halls of power and force popularly elected officials out of office is not a defining characteristic of a democratic government. In Latin America this type of thing is seen as a power grab, but not in Turkey. For the most part it isn't - the power already resides with the military.
Ultimately that's the problem though: the military is the true guardian of Turkey. The Turkish government and its relation with the military is somewhat akin to a parent's relationship with his or her child. The parent will allow the child to live in his fantasy land that all children love to play in. The child thinks he is controlling his destiny and is doing what he wants. In reality the parent always has supreme control over the young child's decisions. The parent lets the child play with power, but only the power that is inconsequential. In the end the child submits to the parent and its clear where the buck stops.
This is how the Turkish government operates. The Turkish military has seen its role as the guardian of Kemalism, the very secular philosophies of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and has refused to let them evolve to today's world. It is now stifling democracy in the name of democracy. The military is the true holder of power in Turkey. It is the parent, the Turkish people are the child. Unfortunate as it seems, the Turkish people seem to be entirely O.K. with this arrangement and show little desire to grow beyond their childhood.
The one hope that presents itself though, is the possibility of E.U. membership. As a requirement for membership, Turkey (read: the military) has been forced to reform its democratic principles and actually become democratic.
"Democracy" would is good, but Democracy is great. I hope Turkey learns this and moves beyond its complacent and infantile relationship with its leaders. Atatürk would want it that way.
First there were the 9/11 intelligence reports, then there was the economy, then there were veterans benefits, then there were all the bombs based on false pretenses and exaggerations. Now Bush is even dropping his dog:
For the sake of America, and all Tinkerific creatures out there, vote Democratic.
"I Was Having Lunch With The Prime Minister Of Indonesia The Other Day..."
If you haven't already, go read Thomas Friedman's column today. Friedman must be serious. It is one of the first articles I've seen by him that hasn't been entirely based on a phrase like, "I was having green tea with a senior Azerbajianian military official last week and he told me the secret to achieving world peace. It goes like this...". Friedman, a strong but skeptical supporter of the war in Iraq, is getting nervous.
"If you think we don't have enough troops in Iraq now — which we don't — wait and see if the factions there start going at each other. America would have to bring back the draft to deploy enough troops to separate the parties. In short, we are at a dangerous moment in Iraq. We cannot let sectarian violence explode. We cannot go on trying to do this on the cheap. And we cannot succeed without more Iraqi and allied input.
"But the White House and Pentagon have been proceeding as if it's business as usual. It is no wonder that some of the people closest to what is happening are no longer sitting quiet. The gutsy Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, acting on his own, told reporters last week that the U.S. would consider a new U.N. resolution that would put U.S. forces in Iraq under U.N. authority — which is the precondition for key allies to send troops. And Paul Bremer, who oversees Iraq's reconstruction, told The Washington Post that it was going to cost "several tens of billions" to rebuild Iraq. Both men were telling the American people truths that should have come from the White House."
That, of course, has been the problem all along. The White House has been incredibly silent when it comes to telling America the truth about what it will take to accomplish our goals in Iraq. It is not enough to simply proclaim victory as often as possible. I'm sure Karl Rove has done the opinion polls that tell him that repeating the line that Iraq is a victory will convince the public that it in fact was a victory, but while it may fool a few, the truth of today's Iraq can not be sugar-coated forever.
Just the other day the total of Americans who have died since Bush had his triumphant photo-op landing on the deck of the USS Lincoln surpassed the number of Americans who died during the "war" phase. To me that means we are still at war.
"I don't know what Mr. Bush has been doing on his vacation, but I know what the country has been doing: starting to worry. People are connecting the dots — the exploding deficit, the absence of allies in Iraq, the soaring costs of the war and the mounting casualties. People want to stop hearing about why winning in Iraq is so important and start seeing a strategy for making it happen at a cost the country can sustain."
Telling Americans that we are winning will only work so long. Right now there is no exit strategy. Of course, there never was one in the first place. All planning ceased on April 9. We planned the easy part to the 'T', but we failed to even think about the hard part, the next step: the rebuilding of Iraq. We need a policy, we need a plan. Now.