Erdogan’s Game

Billboards the day after the failed Turkish coup– “rule by the people” has been changed to “rule by Allah”.

Its astonishing to me the amount of study lavished on failed western attempts to interpret the Mysterious East (yes, I’m studying Said’s Orientalism).  But a lot of Said’s carefully crafted analysis is wholly applicable to 21st century problems.  For example– the West was gobsmacked to find out the Arab Spring wasn’t really about embracing secular democracy, but more of a muslim revolution embracing representative theocracy.  So I guess I should have been expecting all the Erdogan hatred boiling up across the web– another rejection lol!

Does anyone actually think Erdogan’s plan was to nurture secular democracy in the wake of an assassination attempt and a failed coup?  Secular democracy doesn’t even work well in the richest country in the world.   I am going to offer a simpler and more straight forward explanation of Erdogan’s actions– using game theory and evolutionary theory of culture.  Erdogan’s strategy here is devoted to a single goal– avoiding the Morsi treatment– where a democratically elected president was overthrown by a military dictator who was subsequently unconditionally embraced by all western “pro-democratic” leaders.

In a parliamentary system its quite difficult to degrade the Nash equilibrium into a two-person zerosum game.  But surely Erdogan has been watching the US closely, where the elegant Nash equilibrium the Founders set up has devolved into Sinner v Sinner Tit for Tat, because the republicans began playing 2person-zerosum when Obama was elected.  The advantage to Erdogan of switching to a presidential system is not just consolidating power– a presidential system forces a two party system.  This is what fundamentalists do (Boyer 2001)– burn the middle ground and force moderates to choose a camp.  In Turkey Erdogan’s AKIP will become one of the two–  the secular kemalists will be forced to ally with kurdish separatists and PKK linked “terrorists”.   The turkish military and police have been trained to view the PKK as the major cause of disruption of order– Erdogan is sticking the separatist kurds onto the kemalists.  (Erdogan didnt fight ISIS until he was forced to. ) And Erdogan has been stoking the fires of nationalism and patriotism in a campaign very similiar to Trumps MAGA– using historical references and past glories.

Currently AKIP is larger than the kemalist and kurdish parties combined.  Turkey is 99.3 % muslim– citizens become registered muslims at birth.  The failed coup empowered Erdogan to purge gulenists from executive branch, military, judiciary, and academe.  And then there’s the 2 million syrian (mostly sunni) refugee problem.  Dont look for Erdogan to lose power anytime soon.

I wish Edward Said and Scott Atran could have had long discussions instead of Said and Hitchens.  Surely science is a much better way to get around Orientalism.  And we need to figure it out pretty quickly– muslims are about to be one quarter of the global population.  Its not possible to destroy an idea with bombs, and majority muslim states will inevitably have some form of representative islamic government.  Like Dr. Atran says here:

So which do you prefer?  Erdogan or Baghdadi?

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