Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Vladimir Putin Donald Trump Kayhan Ozer, Mikhail Svetlov, Jim Watson/Getty Images

Long Reads

Lies, Liars, and Lawlessness

The age of Erdoğan, Trump, and Putin, with its representatives’ contempt for rules and norms, is generating serious challenges to global peace and prosperity with alarming frequency. Is there a way forward that doesn’t lead backward?

When it comes to contempt for democracy, the rule of law, and simple fidelity to truth in public life, examples have crowded in from around the world in recent weeks: a failed coup in Turkey; China’s rejection of an international tribunal’s decision invalidating its expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea; the Chilcot Inquiry’s report on Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War; Donald Trump’s formal nomination as the Republican Party’s US presidential candidate; and the terrorist massacre in Nice.

It is as though a generation’s worth of latent symptoms – the erosion of Turkish democracy under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, China’s flouting of international law, Western leaders’ dishonesty in the run-up to the Iraq War, the US Republican Party’s flirtation with white supremacy; the rise of homegrown terrorists – manifested simultaneously. As a result, what were regarded until relatively recently as discrete events in specific contexts are increasingly viewed in the light of broader regional or global trends. This change in perspective may provide at least a glimmer of hope, for it is only by discerning these trends –and understanding what’s driving them – that we can begin to devise ways to counter them.

The Coup That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Long before the Turkish putschists hatched their plot, Erdoğan’s government had undermined the rule of law – arresting thousands of journalists, staging rigged trials of senior military officers, and even restarting a civil war with minority Kurds for partisan gain. As Erdoğan pursued his ultimate goal of strengthening the presidency, his administration began to interpret the law as merely the expression of the president’s will.

To continue reading, please subscribe to On Point.

To access On Point, log in or register now now and read two On Point articles for free. For unlimited access to the unrivaled analysis of On Point, subscribe now.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/tMdi52G;
  1. Trump visits China Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

    China’s New World Order?

    • Now that Chinese President Xi Jinping has solidified his position as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, he will be able to pursue his vision of a China-led international order.

    • But if China wants to enjoy the benefits of regional or even global hegemony in the twenty-first century, it will have to prove itself ready to accept the responsibilities of leadership.
  2. Paul Manafort Alex Wong/Getty Images

    The Fall of the President’s Men

    • There can no longer be any doubt that Donald Trump is the ultimate target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

    • But even if Mueller doesn’t catch Donald Trump in a crime, the president will leave much human and political wreckage behind.
  3. Painted portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late communist leader Mao Zedong Greg Baker/Getty Images

    When China Leads

    For the last 40 years, China has implemented a national strategy that, despite its many twists and turns, has produced the economic and political juggernaut we see today. It would be reckless to assume, as many still do in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, that China’s transition to global preeminence will somehow simply implode, under the weight of the political and economic contradictions they believe to be inherent to the Chinese model.