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February 19, 2013, Tuesday

Victory and defeat

There is an amazing paradox pertaining to power or powerful people. In order to climb the ladder of power, people need to possess so many features of maturity: leadership, patience, resilience, wisdom and others. However, at the peak of their power, when there is no democratic control, leaders may tend to regress to their early childhood by being grabbed by a state of narcissistic omnipotence. They may start to think and feel as if they can do anything they wish, like a 3-4-year-old thinks he can fly or can turn a bird into a frog by his magical touch.

Without understanding this narcissistic omnipotence mood, we would remain clueless about how and why history is full of examples of people who made deadly mistakes when at the height of their power; how and why they made mistakes when they were in power that they would never have made before in their life. A genius like Napoleon would never have tried to invade Russia if he had not been drunk with the illusion of power. Hitler would not have circled Stalingrad if he had taken the slightest lessons from Napoleon, who realized the price of his illusions later on.

Power is so addictive and intoxicating that it is inevitable for a leader to develop a narcissistic feeling of omnipotence if there are not strong democratic traditions in that country, if he/she is not criticized freely by his close circles and if he/she does not welcome criticism. Not only is there this danger of a leader being contaminated by narcissistic omnipotence, but also for his circles to be intoxicated by all kinds of illusions. We have all these symptoms of deterioration in Turkey.

Recently, a politician known for defending democratic values then joined the governing party and called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the eternal leader of Turkey. Likewise, some politicians in the ruling party who are known as quite reasonable people started to introduce to the public, bit by bit, a presidential system in which almost all power is in the hands of a single man. They may not be aware that what they are discussing is not a presidential system, but a full-scale dictatorship.

Likewise, we can see that Erdoğan also takes every step keeping in mind that he will be president of Turkey. In this sense, he is seeking a wide coalition to get support for his presidency. His last remarks in favor of Ergenekon suspects cannot be understood if we do not take this goal into account. One of the main characteristic of narcissistic omnipotence is this: You tend to forget that other people have their own agendas. You start to see them as passive actors who will perfectly perform the roles you assign to them. Erdoğan and his friends now think that Ergenekon people will only play the roles they assign to them. What they do not understand is this: Instead of criticizing human rights violations in these cases, trying to show Ergenekon trials just as fake cases is part of an overall strategy to stage a new coup in Turkey. While Erdoğan thinks that he may have peace with Ergenekon people by discrediting the trials in which generals are being tried, he is merely serving the purposes of the Ergenekon circles whose final goal is to delegitimize his government by showing the whole world that in Turkey people are put on trials with fabricated evidence. As Napoleon said, "The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory." And it seems to me that this government is doomed to make so many vital mistakes at the height of its power.

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