The Turkish Spring?

While the revolt against autocratic Arab regimes has mostly seen the imposition of ever more Islamic governments throughout North Africa the Levant, the unrest in Turkey over the last two days has actually been of a different flavor.

The Erdogan government has pushed back against a 70 year history of secularism in Turkey, leading to what liberal critics of the regime call creeping sharia. And while the Erdogan government was popularly elected, it seems a good portion of that support is more wide than deep.

bridge turkey

[UPDATE- The above pic is bogus- taken from a marathon a while back. The rest of the original post is below]

A small protest against turning a park into a shopping development was harshly suppressed. In response, huge numbers of Turks have taken to the streets to condemn Erdogan and his government.  For many, the conversion of the parkland to a shopping center smacked of the very crony capitalism that lead many people to support electing Erdogan in the first place.

We’ve been concerned for years about the Islamisation of Turkey. And we’re generally in support of any shift back to a more secular, democratic government in Turkey.

But we’re also cognizant that instability breeds instability. Turkey already has a next door neighbor that is in the throes of a bloody civil war. On the other side, they’re dealing with a Eurozone economy that stifles Turkey’s (non-Euro) economy. I’m not sure Erdogan is in a position to weather the current storm.

Will he continue to try to repress the protestors, or will he moderate and play for time to stabilize the situation? Which course would likely work best (from his point of view, anyway)?  Or will events plot a course of their own?

What, if any, response should the US have?

A couple of quick hits

Since tomorrow is a travel day and you likely won’t get a lot of content from me **nudge**Jason/URR/Roamy**nudge**, here’s a couple of bits.

Naval strategy, power projection, hardcore show of force, however you want to describe it. Back in the early 1980s, the Navy, with the newfound guidance of the Maritime Strategy, went out of its way to show the Soviet Union that our Navy could hold them at risk.

USNI blog as a neat little article about that, and then there’s also this.

Do we still have this strategic level thinking and operation capability after 10 years of supporting the War on Terror? I hope so. The strategic pivot to the Pacific will certainly have the brighter minds of the operating forces trying to attain that capability.

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Of course, it’s hard to have a lot of faith in that when the Navy still struggles coming up with a simple uniform for sailors.

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Relative to the first piece up there, Exercise Able Archer scared the crap out of the Soviets. They thought the balloon was going to go up. I think it is fair to say that without that near panic, future efforts between Reagan and Gorbachev to reduce tensions would not have come to pass. And without that, we might not have seen the fall of the Soviet Union. Or at any rate, such a collapse may have had a distinctly different flavor.

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Did I share this picture of Sox before? I dunno. But I like it. So you get it again.

OMG!!! Poor Marines Forced To Eat MRE’s!!!!

Sorry, try as I might, I can’t work up much outrage about this story making the rounds the last couple days.

Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan will lose a key daily meal starting Saturday, causing some to forgo a hot breakfast and others to work six-plus hours without refueling on cooked food, according to Marines at the base and Marine Corps officials.

The midnight ration service — known there as “midrats” — supplies breakfast to Marines on midnight-to-noon shifts and dinner to Marines who are ending noon-to-midnight work periods. It’s described as one of the few times the Marines at Leatherneck can be together in one place.

So, for now, the chow hall is going from four hot meals a day to three. The horror!

Some folks will blame this on an uncaring service, or budget cuts on the back of the troops or the sequestration.

No.

Simply put, the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan also means a drawdown of contractor support, including those that provide food services. And with fewer food service contractors, there has to be fewer hot meals.

So, sure, it’s a burden on those air wingers that work shift work. But Camp Leatherneck has always been somewhat more austere than some of the other major installations in Afghanistan (and it IS a major installation– it’s one 0f the biggest bases in ALL the Marine Corps).  Unlike Bagram Air Base, it has never had fast food and coffee shops.

http://xbradtc.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/9671e-leatherneckfood.jpg

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (Nov. 26, 2009) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus serves turkey to Marines and Sailors Thanksgiving Day at Camp Leatherneck. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O’Brien

You can see above the horrific conditions in which our poor Marines are compelled to starve.

Mind you, I’m a strong believer that you don’t need practice being miserable.  Good commanders take care that hot food is provided whenever practical. But the fact is, Marines at Camp Leatherneck have far more meal options and far better accommodations than those Marines and soldiers deployed to smaller combat outposts, where a hot meal is truly a luxury.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Flickr_-_The_U.S._Army_-_Thanksgiving_on_Combat_Outpost_Cherkatah,_Khowst_province,_Afghanistan.jpg

Both the Marines and the Army have gone to considerable effort to provide (military) cooks to forward outposts. But all too often those troops are either on patrol for days on end (meaning all meals are MREs) or only provided one or two hot meals a day, usually from canned foodstuffs, not fresh, and with a very monotonous menu.

Babette Maxwell, of Military Spouse Magazine, does herself no favors sounding like a whiner.

“MREs are an alternative for when you can’t get to healthy food. They’re supposed to be for desperation,” said Babette Maxwell, founder and executive director of Military Spouse Magazine, the wife of a Navy pilot and an advocate for service members and their families. “These guys have six to nine months left on their deployment. These are highly athletic and highly physical people, toting guns, not working any less now than before — and not working out any less either. Now, they’re short a meal and they don’t have any healthy alternatives.”

MREs are actually rather healthy, if somewhat high in fats. But they are very high in calories. Unless you’re engaged in the most strenuous physical activity (see, patrolling, infantry) you can gain weight quite easily with MREs. 

And Ms. Maxwell, maybe you should ask your husband what kind of midrats are served at sea. Hint- it ain’t usually a hot meal, no matter what shift hours you have.

Then there’s this bit:

“Psychologically, midrats is probably the most important of all the meals because that’s the big social time — where first (shift) crew is coming off and second (shift) crew is coming on,” Maxwell said.”That’s where you get the esprit de corps, the camaraderie. It’s not just the food you’re taking away, it’s their social sustenance.” 

Really? Marines are that fragile?  I’ll have to take a poll of our readers and see how many support that notion. Provided I can get URR off his fainting couch. I’ll give you this much- other bases that have stopped a fourth meal have eliminated either breakfast or lunch based primarily on which is the least attended meal of the day. 

I gotta say, as a grunt who thought a TCT/TCA ration cycle was pure luxury, I’d blow my top at these guys.

I’ll give LTC Gilmore, spokesman, credit for finding a bit of humor:

When serving we are challenged to endure different things — to face different challenges — over time. But we’re an odd bunch, we Marines — probably no surprise that we’ll complain more about losing the sandwich bar on the way out than we did about getting shot at on the way in.”

Why are liberals so rude to the right? | Leften Wright | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Why is it that liberals feel no qualms about being rude? Far too many people who are perfectly polite and courteous, otherwise, think nothing of insulting you for not sharing their political opinions. They look at us with disdain, thinking we’re unenlightened conservatives and never hesitating to say so.

As the lone conservative at the tennis courts, I cringe at the Sarah Palin jokes and the jabs at Mormons. When news came on 9/11 that planes had struck the World Trade Center, my partner commented that Bush would use it as an excuse to increase military spending. Bush, of course, is dumb – as are all Republicans, and we’re epitomized by Dan Quayle, whose spelling of “potatoe” has entered historical canon. (Never mind Obama’s telling us there are 57 states, or having a meltdown without a teleprompter) And now it’s Marco Rubio, caught drinking water. “Next time he’ll forget to zip his fly,” joked one of the guys. Mitt Romney changes his mind more often than he changes his underwear. Reagan had Alzheimer’s when he made B movies, and Bonzo had to feed him his lines. And would you believe, from a guy with a pathetic serve, this comment about the Clarence Thomas, justice of the supreme court: send him back to the plantation.

via Why are liberals so rude to the right? | Leften Wright | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

I will readily grant that rudeness in daily discourse is hardly the sole product of the political left. But the author has  a point that so much of the Left feels not just free to be condescending and rude, but obligated to be so.

The Aviationist Captured a Crash

I’m a big fan of airshows. I don’t think that will surprise anyone.

Having said that, I’m also a bit conflicted about them. Operating aircraft near the edge of their performance envelope, and doing so at low altitude, with the pressure to “put on a good show” tends to raise the accident rate to far higher than normal levels.

Five years ago, at an airshow in Italy, David Cenciotti, The Aviationist, caught an Italian NH90 helicopter in its last moments.

Head on over for the story, and the rest of the pictures.

McClatchy: IRS Targeting of Conservatives Includes Private Citizens?

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An excellent article from McClatchy, regarding the IRS targeting not just conservative organizations applying for exemption as a 501 (c)(6)(4), but individuals, private citizens, whose political views are not in line with the Administration.

WASHINGTON A group of anti-abortion activists in Iowa had to promise the Internal Revenue Service it wouldn’t picket in front of Planned Parenthood.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s family and business in Texas were audited by the government after her voting-rights group sought tax-exempt status from the IRS.

Retired military veteran Mark Drabik of Nebraska became active in and donated to conservative causes, then found the IRS challenging his church donations.

The emerging stories from real people raise questions about whether the IRS scrutiny extended beyond applicants for tax-exempt status and whether individuals who donated to these tax-exempt organizations or to conservative causes also were targeted.

There is little by way of plausible explanation for the IRS asking the conservative organizations for comprehensive lists of donors other than an intention to target private citizens with “unacceptable” political views.   Which is, if you are keeping score, yet another item which the IRS and the Administration were untruthful about.   Thoughtcrime, anyone?
“Sometimes, they threaten you with something – something you can’t stand up to…
Just curious as to where my tax refund might be…..