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Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and how democracies die

2017-5-17 06:59| 发布者: 岁月如歌| 查看: 103| 评论: 0

摘要: When Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Washington on Tuesday, they might find they have a lot in common.The presidents of the US and Turkey are both nationalists who have promised to make ...
When Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Washington on Tuesday, they might find they have a lot in common.

The presidents of the US and Turkey are both nationalists who have promised to make their countries great again. Both have turned governing into a family business and rely heavily on their respective sons-in-law, Jared Kushner and Berat Albayrak. Both are despised by metropolitan elites but often adored outside big cities. Both have accused their countries’ permanent bureaucracy of plotting against them.

However it is the similarities in the Trump and Erdogan approaches to the media and the courts that should be most chilling for Americans. Mr Trump is famous for calling the mainstream media “the world’s most dishonest people” and for his denunciations of “fake news”. Mr Erdogan is at war with much of the Turkish media. Mr Trump denounced a “so-called judge” who ruled against his travel ban for refugees. Mr Erdogan is contemptuous of the Turkish constitutional court and had two of its members arrested last year.

The critical difference between the Turkish and American presidents, however, is that Mr Erdogan has succeeded in taking his country a long way down the road to autocracy. The Turkish president has repressed the media and the judiciary in ways that should be impossible in the US.

So while Mr Trump has been limited to denunciations of television hosts who displease him, the Erdogan government has imprisoned about 120 journalists. Last week, Oguz Guven, the online editor of Cumhuriyet, a leading opposition paper, was the latest to be taken into custody. Similarly, while President Trump fired James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and before that sacked Sally Yates, the acting attorney-general, and Preet Bharara, a prominent prosecutor in New York, the Erdogan government has dismissed more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors since declaring a state of emergency last summer.

There are two possible conclusions about these differences between Trump’s America and Erdogan’s Turkey. The first and most comforting for Americans is that systems matter more than personalities. Mr Trump might have the instincts of an autocrat. But America’s system of checks-and-balances and its entrenched democratic traditions will prevent him from indulging his worst tendencies. Turkey is a country with a history of military coups and suspensions of democracy that make its institutions far less robust than those of the US.

The second possible conclusion is less comforting for Americans. It is that, given enough time, any democratic system is vulnerable to assaults from a determined, dictatorial leader. Mr Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 and, over time, utterly changed his country. As one Turkish intellectual put it to me in Istanbul last week: “Things that I would once have thought impossible are now happening on a daily basis.”

Some of the ways in which Mr Erdogan has rolled back freedoms should sound alarm bells in Trump’s America. Turkey’s bitterly partisan politics have ensured that Mr Erdogan has always had a firm block of political support for his actions, no matter how outrageous. Much as Senator Mitch McConnell and leading Republicans seem prepared to defend President Trump’s every decision (most recently the sacking of Mr Comey), so loyalists in Mr Erdogan’s AK Party will retrospectively justify their leader’s decisions.

A second warning is the way in which Mr Erdogan has used the threat of terrorism to justify cracking down on his enemies. Turkey has been governed under a state of emergency since a failed coup attempt in July. Mr Erdogan has used the suspension of the rule of law to launch a purge of alleged enemies of the state in the military, the media, universities and the bureaucracy. Nothing comparable would be possible in the US, given the protections of the constitution. But if America were to be hit by a major terrorist attack it is possible to imagine Mr Trump asking for state of emergency powers, and getting them.

Given their temperamental similarities, it is likely that Mr Trump and Mr Erdogan will get on well when they meet in Washington this week. There is, however, a major geopolitical stumbling block in the way of their potential friendship. Last week, the US announced that it intends to arm Kurdish militias in Syria: the Americans hope the Kurds will play a crucial role in the defeat of Isis. The decision outraged the Turkish government, which is at war with Kurdish separatists inside its own country. As Binali Yildirim, the Turkish prime minister, told the Financial Times last week: “We have made it very clear that to eliminate one terrorist network, you cannot use another terrorist network.”

The Pentagon was probably wise to push through the decision to arm the Kurds before the Turkish president’s arrival in the Oval Office. For Mr Trump has shown himself susceptible to briefings from fellow strongman leaders — crediting China’s Xi Jinping with educating him on North Korea and issuing a White House invitation to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. The geopolitical conversation between Mr Erdogan and Mr Trump will certainly be fascinating.

But Americans should hope that the two presidents do not get around to comparing notes on domestic politics.

当唐纳德?特朗普(Donald Trump)与雷杰普?塔伊普?埃尔多安(Recep Tayyip Erdogan)本周二在华盛顿会晤时,他们或许会发现彼此之间有很多共同之处。

美、土两国现任总统都是民族主义者,誓言要让自己的国家再次变得伟大。两人都把国家治理变成了家族生意,并严重依赖各自的女婿——贾里德?库什纳(Jared Kushner)和贝拉特?阿尔巴伊拉克(Berat Albayrak)。两位总统都受到了大都市精英的鄙视,但在大城市以外地区常常受到热捧。两人都指责本国僵化的官僚体制阴谋推翻自己。



因此,当特朗普只能对那些令他不悦的电视节目主持人进行谴责时,埃尔多安政府已将约120名记者投入了监狱。上周,主要反对派报纸Cumhuriyet的网络主编奥乌兹?居文(Oguz Guven)成为最新一位被拘的媒体人士。同样,虽然特朗普炒掉了联邦调查局(FBI)局长詹姆斯?科米(James Comey),此前还解雇了代理司法部长萨丽?耶茨(Sally Yates)以及纽约著名联邦检察官普利特?巴拉拉(Preet Bharara),但埃尔多安政府自去年夏天宣布进入紧急状态以来已经解职了4000多名法官和检察官。



埃尔多安在打击自由方面的一些做法应该为特朗普治下的美国敲响警钟。土耳其激烈的党派政治确保了埃尔多安的行为总会得到稳固数量的政治支持——无论这些行为多么残暴。正如参议员米奇?麦康奈尔(Mitch McConnell)等共和党领袖似乎准备为特朗普总统的每一个决定(最近的一例为炒掉科米)辩护一样,埃尔多安的正义与发展党(AK Party)的忠诚党员将为本党领导人的决定辩护。


鉴于两人相似的性情,特朗普与埃尔多安本周在华盛顿会晤时很有可能会相处得不错。然而,他们之间要建立友谊还面临一项主要的地缘政治障碍。上周,美国宣布计划武装叙利亚的库尔德民兵组织:美国人希望库尔德人能在击败“伊拉克和黎凡特伊斯兰国”(ISIS)的过程中发挥关键作用。这一决定激怒了土耳其政府,后者正在国内与库尔分离主义者交战。土耳其总理比纳利?耶伊尔德勒姆(Binali Yildirim)上周对英国《金融时报》表示:“我们已经说得很清楚,不能利用一个恐怖分子网络去消灭另一个恐怖分子网络。”

五角大楼在土耳其总统抵达椭圆形办公室之前宣布武装库尔德人的决定或许是明智的。因为特朗普容易受到来自其他强人领袖的只言片语的影响——感谢中国国家主席习近平在朝鲜问题上给他上了一课,并帮助促成白宫向菲律宾总统罗德里戈?杜特尔特(Rodrigo Duterte)发出邀请。埃尔多安与特朗普之间的地缘政治对话无疑将很有趣。








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