Monday’s Links→

Over the weekend I spent some time thinking and talking over the schedule for posting and think I have it worked out. Rather than spell it out here, I’ll put it into practice and let you figure it out!

To start of the week here are some links to interesting or otherwise notable articles. (In time maybe I’ll come up with a catchy or corny title for it like “Monday Mentions” or “Lead-off Links” or something like that)

So here you go…

A Brother’s Reflection on His Brother’s death – This is now a few weeks old but I read it this morning and found it quite gripping. It is the response of Peter Hitchens on the death of his brother Christopher Hitchens. The way he describes his brother is: Courageous.

“Courage is deliberately taking a known risk, sometimes physical, sometimes to your livelihood, because you think it is too important not to. […] I’ve mentioned here before C.S.Lewis’s statement that courage is the supreme virtue, making all the others possible. It should be praised and celebrated, and is the thing I‘d most wish to remember.”

A Top Military Man Arrested – For those who have followed Turkish politics at all this is a fairly significant development. There is a positive development of more transparency and civilian oversight of the military but also a negative trend of arbitrary arrests and an abuse of the judicial system. It’s a story to watch.

Goodbye Google, Facebook, and Twitter – Can you imagine if all three of those services shut down? Just gone? What would it do to you? I know much of my communication with friends and family around the world is run through those services. It could happen. Why? It is being discussed as a protest to SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that will fundamentally change the way the internet works. It is an interesting – and perhaps sobering idea.

Iran Sentences an American to Death – American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati has been sentenced to death for allegedly spying on Iran for the CIA. Iran again seems to be occupying a lot of headline space in American media. It is definitely a country to keep your eye on. Although Fareed Zakaria offers his opinion that Iran is in fact growing weaker.

BRONCOS WIN – It just seems appropriate! Last night was a GREAT football game. The Broncos won an overtime. There are a lot of story lines from this season (most involve Tim Tebow in one way or another). Now on to face the New England Patriots (again).

Broncos Legend and Current VP John Elway and QB Tim Tebow

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What I’ve read recently↑

I’m not going to post a full review but have not written recently and wanted to at least share a few links.

If you are looking for an in-depth scholarly treatment of Turkish history (and let’s face it, who isn’t these days?) check out Turkey: A Modern History by Erik Zurcher.

I’ve also just finished God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics by Monica Duffy Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Shah. I will definitely be writing a full review of that book in the coming days. I really enjoyed it. It is a book written by political scientists dealing with the question of “does religion matter in Global Politics?” and if so why and what the implications of that are. If it sounds interesting to you I would encourage you to check it out.

Also of note, Time magazine ran a cover story on Turkish PM Recep Erdogan. If you haven’t – or even if you have – been following the events of the Middle East over the past few months this will help give some perspective for what is going on when people talk about “The Turkish Model” or why people are looking to Turkey. Also as the USA and other western countries seem hesitant to support Syria like they did in Libya many are looking to Turkey and specifically Erdogan to take the lead. He is certainly a polarizing figure but one that is worth learning more about.

Secure but not genuine…

Egyptian soldiers stand in front of a 3rd Armo...
Egyptian Soldiers

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

What do you watch↑

U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime ...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently have been thinking through the issue of how and where you absorb information and how this influences your perception of events. What options are even out there: Al Jazeera? BBC? CNN? Fox News? Why does it even matter?

Today I had an interesting experience. I was sitting in an undergrad classroom waiting for our professor to arrive and the students began talking about Barack Obama and Recep Erdogan and the results of their talk yesterday at the meeting of the United Nations in NYC. Most of the discussion was going on in Turkish and so I was only picking up bits and pieces. Then someone decided to translate it into English for the various international students. The common view of these students was:

“The new leaders of the Middle East, Barack Obama and Recep Erdogan.”

Where do ideas like this come from? Why did these students frame it in this way? I think that the perspective of the media whereby we receive information shapes our feelings towards particular events.

I’ve noticed this particularly as an American currently living abroad and watching and reading material from a different perspective than I am accustomed to. Recently, I’ve been watching much more Al Jazeera because it is about the only reliable English news channel available to me. I’ve noticed subtle differences in perspective for myself as I watch media from a different stance.

One of the benefits of new media is that it gives almost universal access to media coverage and, if the consumer so chooses, to read from a wide variety of sources. How active are you in reading from different perspectives?

Reading Today’s Stories…9/20

Interior view of the Turkish Parliament (TBMM)...
Turkish Parliament

Parliament to launch website for public contribution to new constitution http://bit.ly/pDCa8B

One of the promises made leading up to the elections this past summer was that the AK party would lead an effort to re-write the Turkish constitution. This will be a significant issue in the upcoming months. The current constitution has been in place since 1982 and was written largely by the military though with a consensus. This offers an opportunity to formalize some of the policy changes of the past few years with regards to religious expression, minority rights, freedom of the press, etc. This is a crucial moment that gives Turkey the chance to allow minority groups to retain their identity while adding to the cultural make-up of the Turkish state. The Parliament is using digital media to allow the people to directly contribute to the conversation. Read the whole story here.

Osama Bin Laden Video: No Terror Threats, But Warns Against Capitalization – ABC News http://abcn.ws/qhm5CE

Osama Bin Laden's Final MessageAbout a week ago Al Qaeda released what is believed to be the final video message from Osama Bin Laden. It is rather interesting to hear the topics he speaks about. In fact he is offering some sound advice to American political leaders. Strange that ten years on Osama Bin Laden has words to say that American’s can agree with. Namely, he warns about the dangers of prolonged wars that strain the economy while making some rich. Read the whole story here.

AppleInsider | University study finds students with Apple’s iPad perform better than peers http://bit.ly/mWZg0o

Interesting article on some of the most recent applications of technology – specifically the iPad – in the classroom and to further education. This idea has been gaining significant traction globally the past few years as both the technology and the practitioners continue to develop. Read the whole story here.