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What We Learned From the Coup Attempt in Turkey

Moreover, the failure to anticipate events goes to our lack of adeptness at handling Erdogan, once President Obama’s favorite world leader. Former ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman tells me, “The reason people didn’t see it coming is that Erdogan has been so successful at turning things to his advantage (like the elections last year) that people had stopped thinking about the potential downside risks. The military had clearly been broken as an institution by the various conspiracy trials and jailings of general/flag officers (over 100 in jail at one point).” The lack of a coherent policy toward Turkey is a bipartisan failure. “In general, in both the Bush and Obama Administrations we have tended to turn a blind eye to the negative trajectory of domestic developments in Turkey because we have seen the country as ‘too important to fail’ for other reasons — Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. I think that has been a mistake.”

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