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Brad Pearce

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A Real Challenge to Erdogan's Rule


Introduction: Two Paths for a Nation on Two Continents

The first round of the Turkish Presidential elections are on Sunday, May 14th, Erdogan having chosen to call early elections instead of holding them during the general election in June. The main candidates are Turkiye’s long-time leader President Recep Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party [AKP] and Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the of the Republican People’s Party [CHP] who is representing a coalition of six opposition groups known as the “Nation Alliance” or “Table of Six.” Neither candidate is expected to win over 50% in the first round, and the May 28th runoff is in a dead heat. In 2017 there was a referendum on constitutional reform within Turkiye which greatly expanded the power of the Presidency, and this is Erdogan’s first re-election campaign after serving in the newly empowered position. The opposition wants to give power back to the parliament and return to more pluralistic government and society in ways such as increasing media freedom and judicial independence. Further, Erdogan is proudly Islamist and Eastern, while Kilicdaroglu is a secularist who wants to Westernize the country and restart the process of trying to join the EU.

However, what has become most important to the Turks is the economy, where runaway inflation is causing daily price increases in staple goods such as onions, which are a major part of Turkish cuisine. Erdogan has pursued a policy of low interest rates [though on paper they remain much higher than the US or Europe, but they are lower than inflation, so in practice there are below zero interest rates.] His economic policies are widely described as “unorthodox,” whereas Kilicdaroglu, an accountant by trade would return the country to more “conventional” economic policies. Further, Erdogan’s response to a severe earthquake in early February has been widely criticized, both for the slow response speed and for the Erdogan administration having been lax on building code compliance to stimulate economic growth. Perhaps most important for the world at large, Kilicdaroglu intends to pursue a less aggressive foreign policy and improve relations with Turkiye’s NATO allies, which have severely deteriorated over the last few years. At the same time, Turkiye’s economic reliance on Russia and China and key foreign policy interests guarantee that either candidate will pursue some policies out of line with the West.
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Georgia: The Color of Foreign Influence


There is a distressing and familiar sight in the nation-state of Georgia. Young protestors have take over a central area and are chanting anti-Russia slogans, often obscene and in English, as they wave Ukraine and EU flags and clash with the police.

At issue, a now-withdrawn draft law on foreign influence which would require that entities receiving more than 20 percent of funding from abroad register and explain their funding source. This received overwhelming support in the legislature, though the largely symbolic pro-Western President said she would veto the legislation, however the legislature had a veto-proof majority. The legislature of Georgia, which has a large border with Russia and has so far remained relatively neutral, is under attack from angry anti-Russia mobs. While we are supposed to believe nefarious Russian influence reaches into everything, the sheer fact that this legislation which would treat all foreign interference equally is seen as being a Russian influence ploy shows that there is massively more US and EU influence in Georgia. As ever, “democracy” simply means doing whatever the Western oligarchs want.

It seems we are looking at what is known as a “Color Revolution,” where US soft-power funds pro-Western protestors to overthrow the government of a former Soviet state. The legislature was wise to withdraw the legislation in an attempt to calm the situation, though it did not cause the protestors to leave the streets. This is a rare time my piece will be about how a government’s decision is correct. Escalating is the worst decision the Georgian legislature could make now that this conflict has arisen, and they will find that if they can simply deal with the internal pressure and let time pass, they should be able to wait out the Russia-Ukraine War and then carefully look at their options for reducing outside influence on the country.
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Just Like Herding Leopards


In a great moment of historic irony, Germany has given into criticisms that it is not sufficiently militaristic. After a large amount of hemming and hawing around the world, where the US refused to send tanks to Ukraine unless Germany would at least allow its Leopard tanks from other countries to be sent to Ukraine, both Germany and the United States have agreed to send modern tanks to Ukraine.

This tank situation is ridiculous for several reasons, most of all that we’ve seen this movie before, where all the pro-Ukraine gear autists on the internet are sure sending Ukraine a charity collection of some equipment will change the course of the war. In my opinion this represents a continuation of what I previously described as a sort of “demented arms control program” whereby NATO sends its equipment to Ukraine to be destroyed, though perhaps it really makes the difference this time.

However, between delivery and training it will be months before this equipment can be deployed, if it ever is.

With these weapons transfers NATO continues to sacrifice its military readiness on Ukraine. Though the ghouls in the scribbling and “national security” classes tell us this is a “cheap” way to counter Russia this could potentially harm NATO’s combat readiness for several years without doing anything meaningful to help Ukraine. [That we must counter Russia is an unquestionable assumption in all these arguments.] The efficacy such tanks will have against the world’s largest tank force and Russia’s massive artillery advantage is questionable at best. Perhaps efficacy is not the point; for dubious advantage to Ukraine, the United States has pressured Germany to escalate and allow Leopard tanks it manufactures to be used against Russia. It is unlikely these tanks will be replaced with other Leopards: they seem more likely to be permanently replaced with American manufactured tanks.
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