How “The White Man’s Burden” Endures in Trump
24 November 2019
This week, President Trump pardoned three US officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. It made me think of Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” that ode to western imperialism.
Turkey ranked 33rd among 190 countries
10 November 2019
In the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Survey, Turkey was among the top 10 reformers. It has not been able to hold on to this position in the 2020 report that was just released. Yet the country’s ranking regarding ease of doing business has improved, moving from 33rd to 43rd. In the metrics of doing business, Turkey looks better than before.
A passage to Europe
05 November 2019
Let me start with a bit of wonderful news: Next Tuesday, November 5, the Chang’an Cargo Train (a.k.a. China Railway Express) is to make a short stop in Ankara. It is then going to pass under the Bosphorous, using the Marmaray tunnel. This is going to be the first direct cargo train traveling from Xian, China, to Europe. At long last, the Turkish corridor to Europe is becoming operational.
It’s all about the refugees
27 October 2019
It was Tip O’Neill, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives, who said that “all politics is local.” Joe Biden, then Vice President of US, clarified the phrase for me in Istanbul, when he said “all politics is personal”. That is a solid reference point to understand the dynamics behind the limited Turkish counter terrorism operation into North Eastern Syria. It’s all about the refugees, if you ask me.
Turkey is waiting for the other shoe to drop
22 October 2019
I like how Urban Dictionary explained this idiom: “A guest who checked into an inn one night was warned to be quiet because the guest in the room next to his was a light sleeper. As he undressed for bed, he drop one shoe which, sure enough, awakened the other guest. He managed to get the other shoe off in silence, and got into bed. An hour later, he heard a pounding on the wall and a shout: ‘When are you going to drop the other shoe?’”
Brexit is a bigger problem for the Turkish economy than Syria
13 October 2019
I was recently asked how badly Turkey’s military operation in Syria could affect the already troubled economy. Could this move, my inquisitor wanted to know, be the last nail in the economy’s coffin? My answer was no. I think that the highly probable no-deal Brexit at the end of October could have a more negative impact than the limited operation in northern Syria. Why? Let me explain.
An Orwellian new Commission for Europe?
17 September 2019
Ursula von der Leyen, the President-elect of the European Commission, announced the names of her commissioners this week. I was first struck by the name of the new job dealing with migration. It’s actually called the “Vice-Presidency for Protecting our European Way of Life.” I like how it specifies with “our European Way of Life,” rather than say, “the European Way of Life.” The Orwellian theme continues with the new commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement: Lazslo Tocsanyi, a dutiful follower of Hungary’s Victor Orban. I hope I’m wrong, but from the looks of it, it appears that the new Commission will be accepting identity politics as its core.
From Emrullah Efendi to Boris Johnson
01 September 2019
The Brexit process started like a tragedy and with Boris Johnson as the British Prime Minister, it has turned into a comedy. I have to confess that it is getting funnier everday to watch the things happening in Great Britain. At the same time, the job of explaining to my foreign friends what is happening in Turkey is getting easier and easier.
Watching “New India” from Turkey
25 August 2019
On August 5, India revoked Article 370 of its constitution, effectively ending the special status of Kashmir, a territory that borders on Pakistan and China. To guard against an insurgency backlash, the government flooded Kashmir – already one of the most militarized places in the world - with even more military forces, put a curfew in place, and cut off its communication with the outside world. By lining up the Hindu domination of India’s sole Muslim-majority region, it has also put in danger India’s secular character, which has been the keystone of maintaining harmony among the country’s diverse people.
An FTA would be a good idea, Mr. Graham
04 August 2019
It was in the papers this week: for the first time in history, the number of $100 bills have exceeded the number of $1 bills, and apparently, 70 percent of those $100 bills are outside the US. Why? Because people want to safeguard their hard-earned savings in climates of extreme macro policy uncertainty. Turkey is one such example, where after a brief hiatus of stability, Mr. Benjamin Franklin’s likeness is back in fashion. Why?