Same discussions, allegations precede military meeting by MAZHAR BAĞLI*

Same discussions, allegations 
   precede military meeting by MAZHAR BAĞLI*

June 20, 2008, Friday/ 18:44:00
In the last few years discussions have been held and allegations have been brought up on the private lives of some military bureaucrats at the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the months of June and July.Every single detail of these bureaucrats, including their DNA and family history, is discussed; however, nothing changes in connection with these discussions. Some even assert that the discussions seek to manipulate some facts. In other words, these reports and rumors are part of a campaign to create public opinion supportive of predetermined results and outcomes. I have no information as to why this is the case or who is staging these allegations. It is also impossible to believe that such a strong institution, known for its ability to collect intelligence, is actually weak on this matter.

More importantly, why are there frequent and heated discussions on changes in the command posts of the military bureaucracy whose rules and standards have been well grounded and identified beforehand? On what criteria is a plan or decision made to specify who will assume military office? What separates arbitration from the rule of law? Do the said discussions make any contribution to these appointments? If the rules and laws are all set and if all are doing their jobs, why are some other factors involved in the process? It is possible to offer many other questions; what is apparent is that the military bureaucracy does not consider itself equal to other types of bureaucracy. I should also note that the military bureaucracy should come to the awareness that nowhere in the world do the self-considerations of the military suffice to determine its place on the political stage. Civilian legislation and a set of regulations are strongly needed to govern the military bureaucracy simply because the rationality that the military bureaucracy relies on and the rationale of the civilian sphere and social structure are distinct.

Military bureaucracy, society and history

It is not possible to design the civilian sphere using military rationality; however, it is possible to design the military bureaucracy with civilian rationality. It should also be noted that the military sphere should be designed by civilian rationality because the overall experience so far requires this. But why has this not been the case in Turkey? Why does the General Staff assume the responsibility and duty in every political case to respond and take action in an attempt to deal with the incident? Why does it issue statements against administrations in power and even against opposition parties? Turkey is a country that experiences the same problems encountered all over the world. However, the way these problems are brought to the political agenda restricts their discussion to a metaphoric sphere and rhetoric, blocking the domination of civilian rationality.

In order to emphasize a certain ideology, clichés are used, clichés such as: the society actually has no problems, the problems are created by external actors; we have enemies that seek to curb our economic growth; the entire world envies us; we are surrounded by enemies; the public suffers from unawareness so much so that it votes for those who scratch their bellies; Turks have no friends other than Turks; and the EU seeks to partition our country. However, this refers to a sociologically unethical situation. The only way to reinforce or strengthen societies, states and even individuals is to make sure that they are open to criticism. The logic of this is pretty simple. Institutions that can be criticized are able to become aware of their shortcomings more easily and take more effective actions to correct them. Those who cannot stand criticism do not want to strengthen criticized institutions.

If even families' sacrificing their sons for the sake of this country's survival cannot prove their loyalty, what is there that will? If there is a crisis of confidence, citizens should not be the ones to blame. What created this crisis are a series of shady, non-transparent incidents wherein justice has yet to be applied such as the Şemdinli case, a November 2005 bombing in Şemdinli in which two noncommissioned officers were caught red-handed bombing a bookstore owned by a former member of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); developments behind the Hrant Dink incident in which a prominent journalist of Armenian origin was murdered; operations by the military to create special files or a black list on individuals' patriotism; friendship and close relations with supreme judiciary actors; and the Ergenekon case, a shady gang whose members allegedly perpetrated a number of attacks and bombings to create chaos that would eventually lead to the overthrowing of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. It is only natural that there are individuals with bad faith in every institution. What is not normal or ethical is any allegation that a society or institution is bad in its entirety. In short, making generalizations on history and society is appealing to people. However, it is ontologically contradictory to reality and ethics because attempting to read history and society based on prejudices and judgments is an ideological stance. Even though it is impossible to discuss or inquire free of judgments and values, deliberately acting judgmentally includes unethical references.

Currently, the impact of the said prejudices and stereotypes on the assessment and evaluation of social events is a heated matter of discussion. In other words, social scientists are focusing on research methods to get rid of judgments and values inclusive of cliché statements and accusations. The success of this inquiry is debatable, but it is obvious that in the present world, thinking in reference to a narrow set of prescriptions, seeking to understand the values of other groups through our values and failing to evaluate social events as multi-factorial facts is not sociologically adequate. In the final analysis, what we call a society is a text that can be reconstructed in every separate reading and everyone has a different method of reading. However, Turkey has a structure that remains highly principled on this matter.


*Professor Mazhar Bağlı is an instructor at Dicle University.