It has been about a week since I have made time to post on here. The semester is gearing up and so have been spending a lot of my time reading articles for class. The topic for my Turkish Politics class this week has been on the role of the military in Turkish Politics. It has certainly inspired some interesting thoughts in my own mind. Those then coalesced with an op-ed piece I just read about the role of the Egyptian army in the Arab Spring.
Though certainly there are intricacies to every situation the idea of the army as the guardian of democracy has been tried in various forms over the years. This has been the model in the Turkish case. Is that really possible? What develops is not a true democracy. It is a society that is kept secure but the freedoms are not really genuine. The tools and maturity required for a healthy and functioning democratic state are never able to develop because when it gets difficult the army can swoop in and right the ship, and in the ideal case return to the barracks. Yet, in the long run this damages the development of the state. It is similar to the illustration of seeing a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. As you see the struggle and fight, the difficulties it is facing to free itself out of genuine goodwill you reach down and slice open the cocoon, setting it free from its bondage. By doing that, however, you have sealed its fate. The struggle to free itself from the cocoon is how the wings develop the strength required to fly. Without the difficulties the final goal will not be realized.
So what about the case at hand – post revolution Egypt – can democracy emerge there? For too long the strategy in the Middle East has been stability over democracy – the secure path over the genuine – but in the end it is neither. Thus we should be wary of those who offer a quick fix now.
Read More: Taming the Arab Spring by Gokhan Bacik