Nations do not have the luxury, as people often do, of choosing their neighbors. Turkey, under the 14-year rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist governments, and neighboring both Europe and the Middle East, was once praised as a “bridge” between Western and Islamic civilizations. Its accession into the European Union (EU) was encouraged by most EU and American leaders. Nearly three decades after its official bid to join the European club, Turkey is not yet European but has become one of Europe’s problems.
Europe’s “Turkish problem” is not only about the fact that in a fortnight a bomb attack wrecked a terminal of the country’s biggest airport and a coup attempt killed nearly 250 people; nor is it about who rules the country. It is about the undeniable democratic deficit both in governance and popular culture.
In only the past couple of weeks, Turkey was in the headlines with jaw-dropping news. In Istanbul, a secretary at a daily newspaper was attacked by a group of people who accused her of “wearing revealing clothes and supporting the July 15 failed coup.” She was six months pregnant.
Also in Istanbul, a Syrian gay refugee was murdered: he had been beheaded and mutilated. One social worker helping LGBT groups said: “Police are doing nothing because he is Syrian and because he is gay.”
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Sparks flew at Hofstra University last night as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton clashed on stage, but neither of them ended up so cross that they punched a wall. The same can’t be said for the Labour conference in Liverpool, as Clive Lewis expressed his unhappiness with force after Jeremy Corbyn’s communications chief Seumas Milne edited his speech so he would leave open the possibility that the party would scrap Trident.
The Shadow Defence Secretary later urged colleagues not to “pick at the scab” by trying to change the party’s policy on Trident just yet, and other Corbynites are on manoeuvres of their own. John McDonnell has reportedly convinced Jonathan Reynolds to be his shadow city minister, which is a coup for team Corbyn on the face of it given that he was one of the first moderates to leave the shadow cabinet. But Reynolds only weeks ago was explaining how he wanted Owen Smith to replace Corbyn as leader because he was not a “potential Prime Minister”. He was even blunter last year, saying that Corbyn’s supporters were “deluding themselves” by thinking he could win them a parliamentary majority. In his view, the Labour leader would help the Tories win a majority “of at least a 100”. Corbyn’s team will want some moderates to come back to show they can unify the party, but can they really convince voters the party is one happy family?
Tom Watson and Sadiq Khan will be giving keynote speeches this afternoon, and they will be the ones to look out for today. They are both Corbyn-sceptic, to put it politely, and have something that is very useful in the Labour Party nowadays: their own mandates. This means they won’t have to bend over backwards to get in with Corbyn, as they have already been voted into their jobs. They won’t want to seem too un-comradely, but will want to subtly distinguish themselves in their speeches. Meanwhile, Bryony Gordon has been looking at “brocialists” and whether Labour has a problem with women, and it’s well worth reading.
Many Labour moderates feel chastened after failing to oust Corbyn, but William Hague has a proposal for how they can take back the party in today’s Telegraph. The former Tory leader’s idea is to aim to get rid of him in 2018, “when he will be tired” and “will have made more mistakes and minds will focus on the 2020 election”. “If moderates won’t make this plan, what’s the point of them being in politics?” he concludes.
Monday night’s presidential debate was always going to be a battle of the sexes — the political version of the epic 1973 tennis showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The first female presidential nominee was debating a candidate who has called women “dogs” and “slobs,” who bragged about his testosterone score on Dr. Oz and talked about his private parts at a Republican primary debate.
But the fight between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was not fought on such overt terms at Hofstra University on Monday. On the surface, the two sparred over ISIS and crime and nuclear weapons and trade deals. But between the lines, the debate was fought in glares, eye rolls and interruptions.
From the beginning, the debate conformed to classic gender stereotypes. Clinton has been preparing for days, hunkered down with briefing books and rotating through several different stand-ins for her opponent, while Trump had reportedly barely studied, preferring instead to wing it. That’s consistent with research that shows that women tend to overprepare while men tend to have more confidence, a trend that starts in elementary school, where girls do more homework and get better grades than boys.
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A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two parties — in this case, the governments of Israel and the United States. It is less than a treaty, more than a handshake. The first MOU was signed in 1981, recognizing “the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations.” The current MOU, signed in 2007, represented a 10-year commitment. The Obama Administration and the government of Israel have been negotiating a new 10-year agreement that will come into effect in 2017.
It is hard to get the nuance right in a security arrangement between a superpower and a small country, even if the small country is a first-world democracy in terms of education, income, technology, and political structure. It is harder when large sums of money are involved, and harder still when the small country is, in military terms, a “security producer,” one that provides more security to a region than it requires in assistance, but is still uniquely threatened in the world.