Erdogan Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Long Reads

Whither Turkey?

The accession narrative no longer frames Turkey’s relationship with the European Union, and the government’s far-reaching crackdown on opponents since July’s coup attempt has probably buried that diplomatic framework for good. What will take its place?

ISTANBUL – Two months after the failed coup in Turkey, the country continues to suffer from its consequences. Government authorities have already raised the prospect of extending the state of emergency, initially imposed for three months. Of equal concern has the been the scale of the effort to purge the followers of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whose followers in state institutions are accused of organizing the coup.

Former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister Carl Bildt believes that “no one should be surprised that Turkey is now trying to purge Gülenists from positions of power.” As he puts it, “[a]ny state faced with insurrection from within would do the same.” Yet the numbers seem wildly incommensurate with an effort to bring the mutineers and their backers to justice. “In addition to the discharge of nearly 4,000 officers, 85,000 public officials have been dismissed from their jobs since July 15 and 17,000 have been jailed,” points out Harvard’s Dani Rodrik, while “scores of journalists have been detained, including many with no links to the Gülen movement.” Even President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has had to signal his displeasure that the net has been cast so frighteningly wide. An initiative to target the Gülen network is in danger of morphing into a plan to stifle dissent, with overzealous public prosecutors acting arbitrarily.

For many Project Syndicate contributors, including me, the post-coup environment portends a turning point for Turkey’s domestic order and its relations with the West. When Erdoğan first came to power as Prime Minister in 2003 at the head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which he had helped establish just two years earlier, many observers believed that his government could be a model for reconciling modernity and democracy with Islam. Now they, and much of the world, are asking whether Erdoğan’s vision remains compatible with these aspirations.

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.


Log in;

    The AI Debate We Need

    • Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and related technologies have contributed to fears of widespread job losses and social disruptions in the coming years, giving a sense of urgency to debates about the future of work. 

    • But such discussions, though surely worth having, only scratch the surface of what an AI society might look like.
  2. SOPA Images/Getty Images

    Criminalizing the Truth

    • Why is Poland legislating what can and cannot be said about its Holocaust history? 

    • While one reason is that its leaders don't know enough about the subject, the most important factor is the ruling Law and Justice party's increasingly naked appeal to anti-Semitism.
  3. Chinese Yuan Renminbi and Dollar banknotes Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images

    Could the Renminbi Challenge the Dollar?

    • China’s rapid economic growth, coupled with savvy monetary management by its leaders, has internationalized the renminbi to a degree that scarcely could have been imagined just a few decades ago. 

    • But if China’s leaders ever want to challenge the US for global currency dominance, they will need to think and act more radically.
  4. US President Donald Trump speaks about the passage of tax reform legislation SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

    Economic Policymaking in the Age of Trump

    • For decades, America has suffered from a long-run productivity slowdown that has sapped the economy of its former dynamism, and left median wages stagnant.

    • Will the tax legislation recently enacted by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration finally reverse this trend, or will it make a bad situation worse?