There has been much rejoicing in the West that the attempted military coup in Turkey has been defeated by “people power.” People of all political persuasions, it has been said, including many strongly opposed to the governing AK Party, came onto the streets to defend democracy against a military putsch. They did so in answer to a call from President Erdogan in his now famous Facetime broadcast which was then repeated from minarets all over Istanbul and Ankara. There were acts of great bravery as unarmed civilians stood in the way of tanks, as well as scenes of horror, not least when bewildered conscripts appear to have been lynched.
Meanwhile, pictures have been posted of the alleged coup leaders, now being held in custody. They look haggard and worried, as well they might. Continue reading “This is no time for rejoicing: Erdogan is pulling Turkey towards despotism”
I can’t bring myself to blog about the law today. The situation in Syria is so dire that it seems almost frivolous to write about anything else.
Tens of thousands civilians face imminent massacre. In fact, imminent is probably not the right word: they are being massacred as you read this.
Meanwhile the stand-off between Presidents Erdogan and Putin has led us into perhaps the most dangerous international crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The West has made a series of disastrous decisions and it will require inspirational leadership or good luck to avoid a regional disaster turning into a global catastrophe.
Unfortunately, in recent years Western leadership has been dismal and most of the luck has been bad.
President Obama – to whom, as American President, much of the rest of the world looks for leadership, has been a terrible disappointment. How excited we were to see such a civilised man in the White House; he promised so much. It seemed a little premature when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a few months after assuming office, but one understood that the Nobel Committee was reflecting the excitement of the time.
Yet decent men can sometimes make bad decisions and with hindsight Obama’s 2013 decision not to punish President Assad for using nerve gas to kill at least 500 people, many of them children, has had terrible consequences. Not only did it allow Assad to survive in power, it also signalled to the world that you could not rely upon America’s promises, and indicated to Russia that it would henceforth have a free hand in Syria.
Of British politicians, strangely enough it is not so much Mr Cameron as Ed Miliband who must shoulder much of the responsibility for getting our response to Syrian events so badly wrong. In 2013 Mr Cameron proposed military action against Assad. Mr Miliband opposed his plans, and his arguments carried the day. Continue reading “A massacre is imminent in Syria. What are we going to do about it?”