Chirol at ComingAnarchy has a brief but good primer on the role of the Turkish military in protecting the state & Kamalism. Turkey is certainly a fascinating country to study and pay attention to. As Chirol says, the Turkish military views itself as a mother would its son, intervening to correct its walk then stepping back. Turkey’s recent coups are more than “a bit unlike others” to the extent of being appropriately named “coup by memorandum” (or “communiqué”). Yes, a bit unlike others.
Studying Turkish civil-military relations can lead to a fascinating discussion beyond the context of potential Turkish ascension to the EU (which is partially blocked by their unique c-m) and into the relationship between Islam, government, and the military. I agree with those who equate Turkish civil-military relations with civil-military relations in Germany between the two World Wars and in France of the early 1960s even though most liken them to South America, particularly Brazil, or Eastern European relations after the Cold War. Why? Mostly because of the civil-side of the equation but also because of the professionalism of the military side, notably the officers. When you’re a Turk, you’re neither Kurdish or Turkmen, this is especially true in the military.
The positive role of the military in Turkish life cannot be underestimated. From the one-day conscriptions for invalids — so they too can serve their country with honor — to the ritual of the first letter home from a new conscript and despite corruption, especially on the eastern front, the Turkish military is held in high regard. The Turkish military is synonymous with Turkish national identity.
I look forward to Chirol’s future posts on Turkey and the threats she faces.