Sunday, March 20, 2005
Weird things have been happening of late. A re-issuing of Hitler's Mein Kampf is apparently a best seller here. Leman, an alternative cartoonist rag that doesn't shy away from featuring explicit depictions of horizontal dancing, complains that a major bookstore claiming that the cartoonist publication didn't "fit their line " and wasn't appropriate to sell in their bookstores has no qualms about selling Hitler's doctrine. It notes that when a famous model was asked if she reads any books, she answered, "Yes, I just finished Mein Kampf". Apparently, one publishing house has a campaign that is selling the book at about 3 or 4 euros. Whether this is a cause or consequence of it being a bestseller, I'm not sure. Number one on the bestseller list is a Tom Clancy-like novel called Metallic Storm which features a doomsday war between Turkey and the US. Dogu Ergil claims that its our thirst for conspiracy theories. Unrelated, he also has cogent summaries regarding the education system and nationalism.
Journalists are complaining about the new penal code which is still vague and allows people to be charged with "insulting the government". Erdogan had pressed charges against Cumhuriyet cartoonist Musa Kart for making him look like an idiot. My favorite of his cartoons is one mocking AKP's adultery-as-a-crime attempt. It features AKP MPs throwing copies of the penal code at a lying naked woman (-> stoning etc etc)
The CHP finally did something seemingly useful, perhaps motivated by the resignation of Baykal's rival Livaneli, who had said that it's rather sad when a reformist party at its roots becomes less reformist than conservative Islamists. Baykal announced that they were going to leave no question unanswered with regard to Armenian genocide claims. Of course, the rejection of the claims is seen as a forgone conclusion. The attempt here is a comprehensive rebuttal, which will not likley happen. Milliyet publishes a full page interview with Halil Berktay, who says what happened to the Armenians was clearly ethnic cleansing. A symposium on the subject is conducted, Berktay is not invited.
Paul "I didn't leave, the Democratic party left me" Wolfowitz
aka Paul "if Barham Salih is a Scoop Jackson Kurd, I consider myself a Scoop Jackson Republican" Wolfowitz
Those who don't like this guy claim that, besides Iraq, he supported the dictatorships in the Phillipines and Indonesia, that his policy of engagement with Indonesia encouraged the invasion of East Timor, and that he was too soft on dictator Suharto even after the invasion of East Timor. Those who support him claim he did pretty much the opposite. Wolfowitz is more like Kissinger if the former view is correct. Christopher Hitchens, who hates Kissinger's guts, loves Wolfowitz primarily because he holds the latter view and claims that Wolfowitz, too, doesn't like Kissinger. It was Kissinger, not Wolfowitz, who wanted Marcos to stay as dictator in the Phillipines he says. And he was known to object the US support of Saddam in the war against Iran. What also complicates the idea of Wolfowitz-as-Kissinger, is that Wolfowitz is friends with Abdurrahman Wahid aka Katak Gus Dur aka Uncle Gus, the first populist elected president after the fall Indonesia's 30-year dictator, and who also happens to be a moderate Muslim cleric. Who in turn happens to be friends with Al-Sistanti of Iraqi-Shiite fame. Hmm, looks like Wolfowitz didn't just depend on opportunistic Iraqi exile by the name of Chalabi. Looks like he was more "in touch" than some thought (Ever played that game "2 degrees from the Ayatollah"?). Some pundit on CNN just said that when people are saying that Wolfowitz has no experience with economics they forget the papers he wrote on the equation of "Economy, Growth, and Democracy" back in the day. Don't know much about that. It can go either way. Either he'll enforce American policy in the World Bank, or because of his influence in Washington he can get the US to accept World Bank initiatives ( loans vs. grants?). But maybe the biggest hint in all of this is his special lady (she's not my fucking special lady, she's my lady friend--The Big L)
Apparently, Kemal Dervis was also considered by some to be a candidate.
The Go-To Guy
After all that saber-rattling, Osman Koruturk was sent to Europe for damage control and came away with a statement from the EU along the lines of, "We share Turkey's concerns on Iraq". Surprising if only for its lack of admonition or reference to our macho grand-standing a few weeks prior. Impressed, the government sent Koruturk to head a formal delegation to northern Iraq to hang out with possible future president Talabani. After which it was reported that Talabani was considering the idea of having the deputy governor of Kirkuk be a Turkmen.
When asked why he hadn't announced a head negotiator for the EU membership talks, Erdogan responded, "What's wrong with me?" The problem with the AKP is that if they pick some guy not affiliated with the party, if it goes right the media may place most of the credit on him and if it goes wrong they'll blame it on the government. At least with their man steering the ship, if they get it right they'll at least be credited for it. Whatever they do, it may help to keep Koruturk close by.