I have visited Turkey four or five times, and flown through Ataturk airport in Istanbul each time. Everything about the country has fascinated me since I first saw it: the Ottoman history, its unique blend of European and Islamic culture, and powerful position as the bridge between the West and the Middle East. I had always thought of it as a sanctuary of sorts: even if the Eastern parts of the country were challenged by Kurdish separatism or conflict along its borders, Istanbul represented a sacrosanct area where Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions coexisted and its heritage as one of the most important (and historic) cities in the world set it apart from the turmoil of the Middle East.
No more, unfortunately. It’s an unfair bias, but I’m always more affected by acts of terrorism that strike areas that I know intimately. Having never spent meaningful time in Belgium or Paris, the attacks there struck me like those in Southeast Asia or in Iraq: horrific and sad, but not intensely personal. Istanbul felt to me like Boston: I have driven under the trademark Atatürk Havalimanı arch many times, and recall the excitement of each visit.
I will never understand how most of America can ignores a terrible attack like the one in Turkey. Istanbul is every bit as cosmopolitan and European as those other cities, and the attack there represents an even greater violation of a community that is established around the tolerance required as a crossroads of the world.
ISIS is just one problem of many for Turkey
Unfortunately, since my first visit the trends for Turkey have been in the wrong direction. My American Turkish friends expressed a level of alarm when Erdogan first came to power, but in the first part of his rule all seemed well. Since then, his gutting of the military, increased Islamism, and consolidation of power seems to run contrary to the ideals of the Turkish republic. As the region continues to spiral out of control and Turkey is increasingly (and illogically) rejected by the European community, it’s hard to see how the future is bright in the short-term. Between ISIS, PKK, and the strife Erdogan himself is creating, it’s hard to see Turkey returning to the stable, essential partner for the Mulism and Western worlds alike that it aspires to be.
Richard Posner is straight-up wrong.
Posner, a federal appellate judge for the 7th Circuit, contributed a column to Slate last week with the regrettable sentiment: “Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post–Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today.” While it’s fairly obvious that Thomas Jefferson could not have imagined the iPhone and Tesla, the idea that the Constitution is no longer applicable is ridiculous. A world where a judge is allowed to use their own moral lens to pass judgement instead of the agreed-upon laws of the nation is dangerous. You can agree or disagree with those laws, but if you’re a judge, your duty is to apply them to the cases that come before you as they were written. This guy shouldn’t be anywhere near a bench.
The biggest defeat of my political life
I have been consumed by Brexit-related reading since it came to pass last week. This perspective from Timothy Garton Ash is the best of the first-person perspectives I’ve read: it plumbs the inherent conflict in that the British are European by geography, yet now will not be part of the formal European community.
We need more leaders like Hank Paulson
Any article about the Trump candidacy contains opaque references to how mainstream GOP leaders despise him. Yet, when you search for prominent Republicans who are willing to speak clearly and on-record, it’s tough to find more than Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney. Props to Hank Paulson who joined their ranks this week with an op-ed in the Washington Post, noting that the potential election of Trump represents a crucial moment for American democracy and that the commitment to defeating him is not a partisan issue. I could only wish that other Republicans I had long-respected (such as Paul Ryan) would put their country first and recognize this man does not even deserve to lead our party, let alone the nation.