Erdogan’s glory and hubris
mains in power. He is trampling institutions, swinging from one major policy change to the next and risking his country’s involvement in two wars inside its borders and beyond. Compared to the risks Turkey faces, Greece’s economic crisis and its weakened diplomatic standing look like a simple matter. In the most general terms, Greece’s decline can be attributed to a political class that saw the art of government as buying as many votes as possible and providing every interest group with what it demanded. When the easy credit ended, the Greek economy and society were taken by surprise. The lack of mechanisms for dealing with difficulties, a mentality which made politi- cal compromise all but impossible, and a deep sense of injustice on the part of citizens made it very difficult for any government to handle the decline in living standards and expectations. Yet, even as the political center collapsed, Greece remains the same country. Our institutions function, albeit with weaknesses, and we are all anxious to see a recovery. Greece does not face the threat of violence and division. In Turkey, the AKP’s loss of its parliamentary majority in June elections threatens to block Erdogan’s dream to turn the presidency into a powerful executive position. By stoking tension with Turkey’s Kurdish minority, he seems to want to frighten citizens into seeking a strong government in early elections, thus favoring the biggest party, the AKP. Fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish militants is tearing away at a ceasefire that Erdogan helped engineer in 2013. This, combined with an end to Turkey’s tolerance of Islamic State extremists and the recent deal allowing the United States to attack IS from Turkey, has opened two battlefronts. It is an incredibly great risk for uncertain political gain. Risk-taking is in Erdogan’s blood, and it has served Turkey well. But the same self-confidence, the lack of a strong opponent and his undermining of institutions have now empowered him to set loose forces that could tear his country apart.