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Hungry for Power

by Aydogan Vatandas

A summary of current Turkish politics, revealing how Erdogan administration’s authoritarianism and witch-hunts put journalists, judges, and police in prison

Paperback
: Jun 15, 2015 • 188 Pages • 6 x 9 inches • ISBN 9781935295778
Categories
: Current Affairs, New Releases,
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DESCRIPTION

For much of the last thirteen years, Turkey rode a wave of political, social, and economic success. When the AK Party came to power in 2002, it pursued a progressive and democratic agenda which resulted in the advancement of democratic and human rights and widespread economic growth. Two landslide election victories reaffirmed the AK Party’s successes, and Turkey was held up to the world as an example of the peaceful co-existence between Islam and democracy.

So now we ask: what went wrong?

After the AK Party secured its third sweeping victory in the 2011 Parliamentary elections, Recep Tayyip Erdogan suddenly veered off “the train to democracy” and began pursuing his personal agenda. The result has been four years of brutal crackdowns on public demonstrations, the criminalization of the free press and internet, and the deliberate polarization of society through hate speech and fear mongering. What was once a growing democracy has become a burgeoning police state. All sections of society have suffered, but few have suffered more than Hizmet, a peaceful civic movement that has been the victim of a massive witch-hunt as the government has sought scapegoats for its increasingly corrupt behavior. Such a witch-hunt should serve as a warning to the whole of Turkish society: even the peaceful are not safe.

This series of articles shed light on Erdogan’s transition from Muslim democrat to authoritarian leader, analyzing events as they happened. They present a variety of perspectives on Turkey’s unique position in the Middle East, its relationship with the USA, Erdogan’s extreme reactions to any form of opposition, and his escalating authoritarianism and witch hunt.

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REVIEWS AND AWARDS

The book “Hungry for Power; Erdogan's Witch Hunt and Abuse of State Power” serves as a collection of significant articles that shed light on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's transition from Muslim democrat to authoritarian leader while also delving into complex issues like violence in the Middle East.



It was written by Aydogan Vatandas, who has been an investigative journalist since 1995. Vatandas has written a large number of articles on foreign relations, world politics and the military. Vatandas left the Turkish Naval War College just a year prior to his graduation for the sake of his love of journalism. Before becoming a reporter for the Turkish news magazine Aksiyon, he obtained a degree in journalism from Fatih University in Istanbul. In the following years, Vatandas received his master's degree in media studies from The New School in New York City. He is the author of 11 books, some of which became bestsellers in Turkey, and this book is his second in English. Currently he is reporting for the Cihan news agency from New York, and his articles and stories can also be read in Sunday's Zaman.

“Hungry for Power” comprises a series of texts that analyze President Erdogan's leadership style and demonstrate the drastic change in Erdogan's leadership with particular focus on the years between 2002 and 2014. The book includes a mixture of selected interviews, editorials and news articles that provide a large panoramic frame of politics in Turkey during the aforementioned period. More specifically, the book argues that there is a type of “authoritarian leadership” in Turkish leadership under Erdogan. In fact, Vatandas writes, “The cult of personality Erdogan has built around himself makes many believe that he can even try to change the regime of the country.” (p. 19) Vatandas attempts to summarize Erdogan's leadership style and uses the analogy of “destructive narcissism” (p. 95) after looking at Erdogan's own words and political decisions. He is not alone in this diagnosis; the book presents several expert opinions and official reports that have examined the psychology and character of past political leaders from different countries.

The author introduces the reader to many original concepts and provocative ideas from various intellects: university professors like Richard Bulliet, David L. Philips and Steven A. Cook, experts like Philip Giraldi and numerous journalists. Interestingly, many of the interviews in the book postulate original, unique and contentious claims about Turkish and Middle Eastern politics that some readers might find hard to believe. For example, a former CIA case officer and military intelligence officer, Philip Giraldi, states, “The US government continues to support Erdogan because it is important that Turkey remain stable and responsive to US interests.” (p. 24) Despite several speeches by President Erdogan regarding the existence of the Greater Middle East Initiative, Giraldi says it is “fiction.” However, what struck me the most were the arguments made by Bulliet, a history professor at Columbia University whose work focuses on the history of Islamic civilization, particularly in Iran and the Muslim world. Professor Bulliet has offered the most honest and profound answers to the most heavily debated and controversial questions in regards to issues relating to Islam, democracy and violence. Most notably, he says: “People who kill in the name of Islam are not participating in jihad. Rather, they are participating in ‘fasad fi al-ard' -- that is ‘corruption in the earth.' … I think jihadist is too kind a word. I think these are “Mufasidun” [corrupted people].” (p.13) Personally, I believe this is one of the best answers to depict members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaeda.

In conclusion, the book does a very good job of illustrating the portrait of President Erdogan's leadership style. With this book Vatandas has gathered opinions on the most discussed issues in regards to Islam, democracy, Turkey and President Erdogan from a variety of domestic and international experts. The book is very successful in supporting its theory that Erdogan is hungry for more power. It is also well articulated and easy to read for any audience. I am very confident that “Hungry for Power” will soon become the ideal handbook for any student of political science, public administration and international relations in their study to comprehend one of the most controversial political figures in the Middle Eastern region: Erdogan.



*Hasan T. Arslan is an assistant professor in the criminal justice and security department at Pace University.

Arslan, Hasan T., (2015, July 6) Today's Zaman, Retrieved from http://www.todayszaman.com/sundays-zaman_hungry-for-power-by-aydogan-vatandas_392650.html

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Aydogan Vatandas
Aydogan Vatandas

Aydogan Vatandas is a journalist based in New York, specializing in media, international politics and political psychology. He has published books about a range of topics, many of which have become bestsellers in Turkey. Since 2006, he has been working in New York as the representative for Cihan News Agency and correspondent for Todays Zaman Daily where he wrote his dozens of articles on Turkish and Middle East politics. He holds an M.A in Media Studies from The New School in NY.

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