I kind of went on a hiatus from the blog there, didn’t I? That was unplanned; when I said I wasn’t going to be blogging as much I didn’t mean “not at all.” I think I just needed a break.
Anyway, while I was away I wrote a couple of things that might be of interest. The one that piqued the most interest was this look at Ted Cruz’s foreign policy team, which is stacked with Islamophobes, fringe dead-enders, and neocons:
Gaffney is not the lone Islamophobic voice in support of Cruz. Frederick Fleitz and Clare Lopez, both high-ranking employees of Gaffney’s CSP, are also on Cruz’s team, and both have similarly venomous views on Islam. Fleitz, a close associate of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, once alleged that a “left-wing conspiracy” within the U.S. intelligence community was covering up proof of Iran’s active nuclear weapons program. Lopez has echoed Gaffney’s belief that Muslim Brotherhood operatives have infiltrated the U.S. government. Through the Iran Policy Committee, where she formerly served as executive director, Lopez has close ties to the Iranian exile (and formerly designated terrorist) group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). On the subject of Islam, Lopez actually wrote this in 2013:
Deeply rooted in pre-Islamic tribal social structures, some of the most primitive of all human drives—to conquer and dominate by force—were brilliantly sacralized in Islamic doctrine. With assassination, banditry, genocide, hatred-of-other, polygamy, rape, pillage, and slavery all divinely sanctioned in scriptures believed to be revealed by Allah himself, the world is not likely to see an end to Islam’s “bloody borders” or “bloody innards” any time soon. In the traditional Arab and Muslim system, there is just too much at stake for those who win, as well as those who lose. There is no such thing as a “win-win” concept in Islam.
This person could be advising President Ted Cruz on national security.
Cruz’s team also includes former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, who along with Gaffney has flirted with “birtherism” (the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not eligible to serve as president due to questions about his citizenship). McCarthy has also suggested that former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, and not Obama, wrote Obama’s autobiographical Dreams from My Father, and has repeatedly alleged that Obama’s administration represents some sort of “leftist-Islamist” union to take America down from the inside. Apparently, per McCarthy, health care reform is Islamist. Who knew?
I also wrote a couple of pieces on Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, both of which (and you’ll need to sit down because I know this will be shocking) took a pretty dim view of Turkey’s hybrid president-dictator. I wrote the first one in the aftermath of his judiciary’s decision to shut down the newspaper Zaman, effectively on the grounds of insufficient fealty to the government:
Erdogan’s increasingly dictatorial style of governance claimed another victim. On March 4, supported by a ruling from Erdogan’s courts, Turkish authorities forcibly seized the offices of Zaman, Turkey’s largest daily newspaper, and then attacked those protesting the seizure with tear gas. Zaman had ties with Gulen’s Hizmet movement and was often critical of Erdogan and the AKP—it has now been reopened as a thoroughly pro-government outlet. It is hard to see the Zaman seizure as anything other than the final end of any semblance of press freedom in Turkey, the act of a government that will no longer tolerate dissent.
Erdogan’s bodyguards reportedly kicked one journalist, threw another to the ground, and then attempted to forcibly remove a third, Turkish reporter Adem Yavuz Arslan, from the venue prior to Erdogan’s arrival. Arslan was subsequently escorted back into the building by Brookings officials, including its president, Strobe Talbott, and its communications director, Gail Chalef. The National Press Club later issued a statement in which it “expressed alarm” over the incident:
“Turkey’s leader and his security team are guests in the United States,” said Thomas Burr, the National Press Club president. “They have no right to lay their hands on reporters or protesters or anyone else for that matter, when the people they were apparently roughing up seemed to be merely doing their jobs or exercising the rights they have in this country.
“We have increasingly seen disrespect for basic human rights and press freedom in Turkey,” Burr added. “Erdogan doesn’t get to export such abuse.”
Erdoğan, or at least his muscle guys, apparently tried to bring his utter disdain for freedom of the press on the road, and it didn’t play as well as it does back home. After settling for a meeting with Barack Obama on the sidelines of last week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington (Erdoğan wanted a formal meeting at the White House but was turned down), Erdoğan had to respond to reports that Obama expressed concerns over Turkey’s continued suppression of the press. Erdoğan denied that Obama had raised those concerns to his face, insinuating that Obama was both a liar and a coward in the process, and then explained that his government is only stifling “insults and threats,” not legitimate criticism. Of course, Erdoğan is apparently the one who gets to decide what counts as legitimate criticism and what is instead an “insult” or a “threat,” so you’d be forgiven for not taking his word for it.