01 August 2011

Turkey's Invisible Democratic Revolution

Since Attaturk, the Turkish military has served a the defender of a secular constitution in a country that was dominantly Muslim at the expense of majoritarian democracy. But, it appears that this role has now ended for good as the senior military leadership has been purged by the combination of dozens of arrests of senior military officials by civilian law enforcement authorities and the mass resignation of the remaining top military officers. It isn't entirely clear from half the world away to what extent the charges that have led to the arrests of military officers are valid and to what extent they are cover for a political purge.

It also isn't clear what made it possible for the arrests to be successfully carried out this time when in the past civilian authorities have seemed unable to carry out these kinds of arrests, although the generalized influences of the Arab Spring in the region could be a factor.

Turkey's days of military supremacy over civilian rule has ended, bringing it out of the classic newly emerging democracy phase of development. But, it isn't yet clear if the civilians who now have unquestioned supremacy will be able to avoid the temptations to engage in unconstitutional conduct or establish a religion in governmental affairs, which could be worse.

The example is a worthwhile one for American political scientists to examine because a similar strategy of civilian arrests of military leaders is essentially the only recourse in the U.S. Constitution should there ever be a threat of a coup in the United States and a coup is by far the most plausible end of regime scenario for the American system of government.

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