The use of terrorism to make or to prevent the government’s doing something was essentially the method of the Cold War era. That’s why those who still employ this method against Turkey have the intention of pushing it into a Cold War mentality once again, with all the choices and mistakes that implies. To put it more clearly, they would like to see Turkey pick the side of the US or Russia, to turn its back on the Syrian people, to stay out of the EU, to become good partners with Israel once again, to counterbalance Iran and to keep quarrelling with Greece and Armenia. All this would be possible only if Turkey falls into the “domestic and foreign foes” syndrome once more.
The revival of this syndrome means that the role of military authority will once again grow in our political life. If terrorist attacks continue, it’s only normal that the actor who pursues the struggle against the PKK will carry more weight. Besides, it is hard to criticize the army right now, as many soldiers lost their lives recently. No one would like to be accused of weakening the country’s armed forces at a time when it is protecting the country against terrorist attacks.
Nevertheless, it is also true that the social atmosphere in Turkey is changing. When people hear news from the Southeast about new deaths, their first reaction is sadness, but then they start asking questions. For example, people want to know which specific group within the PKK carried out this attack, or why there are still young people leaving their villages to join the terrorist organization.
People also have questions about the army’s methods, why there are still unsecure border posts, and if it is logical to send young people doing their compulsory military service to the dangerous zones. Also, are there still deficiencies in analyzing intelligence? Or the biggest question: Why are military methods still perceived as the only way to fight terrorism? People ask these questions, but one cannot say that they receive satisfactory answers because the necessary structural reforms that would provide these answers have still not been carried out. It is complicated to talk about reforms while dozens of families are grieving or when every funeral turns into a nationalist demonstration. Yet it is time to understand that delays in democratization are the main cause of this suffering.
It is hard to believe that Turkish democracy is progressing as the only debates we hear nowadays are about abortion, cesareans, the mosque project for Taksim or the idea to have prayer rooms inside opera buildings. There is a growing impression that instead of decentralization, the Office of the Prime Minister is aggregating all powers and encouraging the police to become more violent by providing them with a sense of impunity.
This impression does, of course, not reflect the whole picture, but because of this “misty” atmosphere, important efforts undertaken by the government are often overshadowed. Perhaps the essential mistake is to expect everything from a small number of political leaders. We have to learn to trust in the institutions and the system and not in the goodwill of a few people. A new constitution might be a good start.