March 11th, 2010

Turkey

What with Greece and Germany acting like spoiled siblings fighting with each other (seriously, Berlin is plastered with images of Venus di Milo giving Europe the middle finger, while Athens is covered with posters of people wearing Swastikas while walking down the streets of Berlin) what's been going on in Turkey hasn't gotten that much attention.

But, it's fascinating.

The basic deal is that Turkey is a mixture of very secular people and very observant Muslims. Over the years the military, which is extremely secular, has always been terrified that the Muslim population will elect Sharia type governments.

So, whenever a given elected government has started to move too far away from secularism, the military has moved in and forced new elections. This is different from military coups in other countries, because the generals really do have open elections afterward and don't seem to have any desire to run the country. They just want to act as a stopgap against religious extremism in the government.

A short time ago a bunch of generals and colonels were caught planning on doing this against the current government. They have been caught and have - as they would in any country - been charged with treason.

Now, because, for once, they were caught there is a general feeling that the military's influence on domestic affairs will become much less.

This is interesting, because in some ways you could argue that it's a good thing. After all, it's generally not a great idea for the military to start pushing out democratically elected governments. It goes against the very idea of democracy.

On the other hand, you could also argue it's a bad thing. Muslim governments around the world don't have a great recent track record when it comes to tolerating secularism and promoting freedom. (This is not a dis on Islam, the Christian Right in America would certainly restrict a shitload of our freedoms if given the chance.) And, if the elected Muslim rulers of Turkey no longer have the military to keep them in line, might they impose laws that would greatly restrict the freedom and rights of the large secular community?

This would make an argument that the military needs to stay strong and capable of overthrowing the government should things take too strong a turn towards Allah.

In other words, you may end up with a situation where you have to pick either democracy or freedom.

How the fuck do you choose?

Ready For Madrid!

I just have to hope that I don't sleep through my alarm.

Because, honestly waking up at 5:30 ain't normal for my ass.

But I think I'll do it, because The Garden of Earthly Delights is the most beautiful thing in the world and I want to see it again so much that I think my mind will make me wake up on time.