Friday, March 07, 2003

Christopher Allbritton, in his general survey of the prewar scene, notes some remarks from the Turkish military chief of staff, Gen. Himli Ozkok:

"If we had expressed our views, it would have amounted to pressuring the parliament for the approval of the resolution. It wouldn’t have been democratic," Ozkok said. (Cue rueful laughter.)

In other words, Ozkok told parliament that the Turkish military believes in Turkish democracy -- until it gets a vote it doesn't like. Has he been taking lessons from Don Rumsfeld?

There is no doubt the civilian government got the message, as Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said Ozkok's comments were "reasonable." Parliament speaker Bulent Arinc, who is pursuing some agenda of his own, gave a more measured response, saying he appreciated the general’s remarks and thought the timing of the statement was "quite telling."

Parliament is surely as aware as Gen. Ozkok of the Turkish army's history of military coups -- it seems to have viewed itself in the past as a check on the civilian government, rather than the reverse.

Thus do we light a beacon of democracy in the Muslim world...


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