It’s almost August, and thats always the month of the military council in which, among other things, is decided about military promotions. That was always sort of a formality: the military decided who would be in charge where, and the President approved. But things have changed. The military somehow has to come to terms with the fact that Turkey is becoming country in which the military doesn’t control politics, but politics controle the army. And because that’s a too hard nut to crack for some high militaries, four of them left office yesterday. Also the chief of general staff, Isik Kosaner.
In Turkey, you don’t have to go too far back for the last military coup. Thirty one years only, or only fourteen if you also count the ‘postmodern coup’ of 1997, when Prime Minister Erbakan was forced out of office by a ‘military memorandum’. There was a coup in 1971 too, and in 1960. This era of coups is coming to an end. Complication: part of the military is in jail for supposed involvement in alleged coup plans. Isik Kosaner had the wish to promote colleagues who are supposedly not ‘clean’, and clashed about that with the political leaders, who want the military suspects to quit their jobs. They couldn’t agree, and then Kosaner, and also the leaders of the land forces, of the navy and the air force, ‘retired’.
Hard to find
Now what’s next? If the government wants democracy minded military leaders, basically you have to conclude that they will be very hard to find, if at all. Look at the history of coups. All military personnel who are in positions now that make them ready for the highest posts, had their military upbringing in the era in which the will of the people was repeatedly overruled by men in uniforms. That mentality is deep in the veins of every military in Turkey, especially in the higher regiments.
For now, the government can only choose officers for promotion who have not been in any way suspect of any concrete coup plan. But finding really democracy minded military personnel, who are deeply aware of the place the army has in a real democracy, they just don’t exist in Turkey. For now, Turkey will have to make do with it. And during the process of democratization, the younger soldiers need to be taught who is supposed to be in charge. They are the hope of the military future.