Members of the Turkish Heritage Organization’s Advisory Board have provided their insight and reactions to the attempted coup in Turkey
Frederick Starr: Democracy is everywhere a work in progress. It is a process, not an end. If those Turks who recently came out on the streets in the name of democracy now continue to protect it against all those who would undermine it, and if they protect the institutions which are its embodiment, then Turkey's political system will emerge from this crisis in better health than it began it. A living democracy protects both insiders and outsiders, the powerful and the powerless. All voices must be heard.
(S. Frederick Starr is the founding Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program, a joint transatlantic research center affiliated with the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University in Washington and the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm.)
Michael Gunter: The great British leader Winston Churchill once famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Military coups do not make for good or legitimate governments. The failed coup in Turkey reminds us once again of the wisdom of Churchill’s observation. As the great Ataturk envisioned, Turkey has become a successful functioning democracy. This means that governments are changed by the ballot box, not bullets. Even President Erdogan’s parliamentary opponents stood by the side of Turkey’s legitimate AKP government as last Friday night’s failed coup unfolded.
That Turkey even suffered this failed coup was most disappointing and even shameful, but fortunately the coup failed and democracy prevailed. Now President Erdogan should work to solve the problems that encouraged elements of the Turkish body politic to commit this terrible mistake.
(Michael M. Gunter is a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University where he teaches courses on international relations, international organizations, international law, and American foreign policy. He is the author of 11 critically praised scholarly books on the Kurdish question and co-editor (with Mohammed M. A. Ahmed) of three more books on the Kurds, among others.)
Prof. David Romano: Whatever divides the people of Turkey today, a fairly historic consensus seems to have emerged in favor of electoral politics rather than the military’s involvement in politics.
One might say that whatever other problems beset Turkey, its democracy has matured since the myriad coups of decades past.
(David Romano is a professor of Political Science specializing in Politics and Government of the Middle East, and the Thomas G. Strong Chair in Middle East Politics at Missouri State University.)
Stephen Larrabee: Like many of my colleagues, I am concerned about Turkey’s political evolutions and especially respect for rule of law and democracy. Its vitality important for Turkey continued to be governed by respect of law and democracy.
(F. Stephen Larrabee is the RAND Corporation's distinguished chair emeritus in European Security. Before joining RAND, Larrabee served as vice president and director of studies of the Institute of East–West Security Studies in New York from 1983 to 1989.)
Andrew Bacevich: The attempted coup in Turkey was a disaster; if the government uses the coup as a pretext for suppressing legitimate political dissent and for violating democratic practice, the result will be to multiply that disaster many times over.
(Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations emeritus at Boston University and a distinguished author.)
Prof. Matthew Kroenig: I am one of many American scholars who strongly support the democratically-elected government of Turkey and the observance of the rule of law and human rights in this difficult period in Turkey’s history.
(Prof. Kroenig is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and an Associate Professor in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University)
Scholars who contribute to Turkish Heritage Organization’s programs and events, have also provided their insight and reactions to the attempted coup in Turkey
Prof. Gulnur Aybet talks about the impact of the coup on the academic exchange between Turkey and the U.S.:
"Academics can travel abroad. In Turkish universities you always needed a permit or appointment letter from Rector or Dean to attend Conferences or go on sabbaticals.”
Prof. Gulnur Aybet discusses the impact of the coup on education:
"De facto resignation of deans means they continue with their duties until reinstated or new appointment is made. Most will be reinstated. This is an ongoing investigation that has been speeded up following coup attempt.”
Prof. Gulnur Aybet explains the Turkish education system because of how it’s being misunderstood:
"All university regulations are under jurisdiction of higher education council regulations. So the higher education council can take these decisions and was always able to - even before the coup attempt. It’s a much more rigid bureaucracy so people don’t understand and think this is all down to the state of emergency. It is not."
Prof. Gulnur Aybet
Head of Department of Political Science and International Relations
Director of BAUCESS
Dr. Joshua Walker discusses the allegations of a U.S. involvement in the coup attempt:
“Most people don’t think the U.S. was planning this coup, but the average Turk feels that the U.S. housing Gulen shows the U.S. is not helping, and it leads to anti-Americanism.”
Dr. Joshua Walker talks about why Americans are criticizing Turkey so harshly after the coup:
"It is difficult for Americans to understand the intricate Gulenist network which has infiltrated sectors as diverse as the Ministry of Education, the military, and the judiciary. As a result, the main focus has become the wide ranging purges."
Dr. Joshua Walker looks into the future of the Turkish-U.S. relations:
"As the disconnect between Turks and Americans grows, a new phase of bilateral relations that are based less on rights and shared values, and much more on mutually beneficial transactions, are going to develop.”
Dr. Joshua Walker comments on the importance of the Incirlik air base for the Turkey-U.S. relations:
“It would be a disaster for U.S. to leave Incirlik, it is a strategic glue that keeps Turkey and U.S. together.”
Dr. Joshua Walker talks about the negative perception of the Turkish- U.S. relations in the peoples eyes:
“I think there has been a disconnect between the strength of the Turkish-U.S. governments and citizens’ perceptions. We need to correct that narrative.”
Dr. Joshua Walker
Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Prof. Michael Reynolds talks about how the decisions made in the early days after the coup are crucial:
"It is really in the hands of the government. How the government handles the investigation will determine if this coup is another milestone for the burial of democracy or it may mark a movement towards the consolidation of democracy in Turkey."
Prof. Michael Reynolds shares his opinion on the state of the Turkish democracy:
"I believe that democracy in Turkey has been under attack for a while. In western media, they ignore other actors, such as the PKK and Fetullah Gulen.”
Prof. Michael Reynolds explains the complex relationship between Turkey and the U.S.:
"There is this belief that Turkey is an unreliable ally, but we need to put ourselves in Turkey’s shoes. The U.S. is currently openly working (arming and training) with PYD and YPG, an organization that is essentially the same as PKK."
Prof. Michael Reynolds talks about what needs to be done for better Turkish-American relations:
"As a former Fulbright fellow, I would say this is the best investment we can make for foreign policy. And we need a lot more people going to Turkey to learn the language and understand the country."
Prof. Michael Reynolds
Near Eastern Studies
“The meeting between the President & Prime Minister with the leaders of the CHP & MHP was a hopeful sign. The fact that the three parties agreed on the need to restructure the judiciary is an important development. It is also reported that they have agreed to re-start the work of the commission to re-write the constitution, and that the HDP may be invited to join this. If this can be achieved, it should be an important step forward, although it will not be easy, given the differences of views of the AKP and the other parties over the Presidency and other issues.”
Prof. William Hale,
Professor of Politics with reference to Turkey at the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London
“I oppose any government of Turkey, one established by military coup, that plots against Turkish democracy. Period. I am for Turkish democracy.”
Professor James Gelvin
Professor of the University of California Los Angeles