By Mohammad Mazhari

Capitol debacle shows U.S. lacks democratic culture: Turkish academic

January 10, 2021 - 21:26

TEHRAN – The Wednesday events clearly displayed that the U.S. has no “democratic culture” or strong institutions to show itself as a model of ideal democracy, says Mustafa Caner, a Turkish academic.

“The U.S. has never been a shining example of a country that internalized democratic or humanitarian values,” Caner, the research assistant in the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University, tells the Tehran Times.

“The U.S. media is controlled by various powerful actors and they use their newspapers, TVs, and journalists to achieve their political goals,” according to Caner. 
“Media freedom and objectivity is a funny joke in the U.S.,” the Turkish scholar notes.

The following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you assess the recent events in Washington in which pro-Trump protesters stormed Capitol Hill?

A: I think this is more than what is seen on the surface. This is not about Trump or Biden holds the White House. This is rather an acute symptom of the world economic order in a deep crisis. The deep wave of this crisis made Trump’s presidency possible 4 years ago. We have been witnessing an economic crisis in America for almost 10 years. International capital easily flows to different places in the world where labor is very cheap and government taxes are no issue.
 In this way, not only many people lost their jobs in the U.S., but also the state apparatus found itself in a very weak position against the international capital. The state has to carry the burden of a bad economic situation. Because political authority is held responsible for the economy.
 Furthermore, the state lost its tax revenues because factories operate outside of the U.S. since it is more profitable. That crucial shift in the state-capital relations generated a significant crisis. Donald. J. Trump, simply read it very well and promoted himself as the solution to this crisis. He was not a lunatic. His presidency was no accident. Although the media prefers to see him as an irrational crazy man, he is a very successful politician. Nobody can be a U.S. president accidentally. He promised to bring factories back to the U.S. soil and tax them so that many people can find jobs and the U.S. state can take its power back. These protestors who stormed the capitol building are the ones who had been badly affected by this economic crisis. Trump was very successful in turning their hatred against the establishment of his own political force.

Q: Is the U.S. entitled to say which country is democratic or not? How do you measure the American administration’s policies in West Asia?

A: In order to judge countries in terms of democracy or human rights, you have to be a good example of it in the first place. However, these events clearly and undisputedly showed that the U.S. has no democratic culture or strong institutions to present itself as an example of a democratic country. This is not breaking news. The U.S. has never been a shining example of a country that internalized democratic or humanitarian values. Once late Marlon Brando said in a TV interview, “We were the most rapacious, aggressive, destructive, torturing, monstrous, people who swept from one coast to the other murdering and causing mayhem among the Indians. That isn’t revealed, because we don’t like that image of ourselves.”
Their presidential elections did not meet democratic standards. One of the first qualifications of a democracy is that power should be transferred peacefully through elections. In the U.S., it did not happen. The U.S. has no word to utter in that sense.

Q: Do you think Biden’s victory may lead to a fundamental change in U.S. foreign policy?

A: I think we will witness an era more or less the same as Obama’s. Because most of Biden’s foreign policy crew worked under Obama and contributed his foreign policy agenda. I don’t expect any radical departure from Obama’s policies. Biden himself is recurrently emphasizing that he is sharing Obama’s perspective on many issues.  

Q: It is notable that the U.S. media and its social media platforms support and greatly cover violent and peaceful protests all around the world. However, when it comes to U.S. security these platforms and American institutes impose restrictions. Isn’t that a kind of double-standard? 

A: It is not surprising at all. There is no media freedom in the U.S. Many Journalists arrested in these last protests. They were arrested and beaten by the police before during George Floyd's protests. And we can count many examples of it. The fact that nobody should count on the U.S. when it speaks about freedom and justice. It has no credibility and authority to speak, assess, and judge for freedom. We have to talk about another aspect of the issue; Censorship.
 Apparently, the media is a strong political force in the U.S. Despite the media presents itself as neutral, independent, and objective, it is simply not true. When Trump says “fake news”, he is displaying his discontent with the media acting as a political actor. Therefore, it is a battle between political forces. Because the U.S. media is controlled by various powerful actors and they use their newspapers, TV’s and journalists to achieve their political goals. They even banned the U.S. president from using his Twitter account. They censored him numerous times. Media freedom and objectivity is a funny joke in the U.S.

Q: How do you see U.S.-Turkey relations under a Biden administration?

A: Well, there has been tension if not a crisis between Turkey and the U.S. for the last 5-6 years. The U.S. is harboring terrorist Fetullah Gulen who was behind the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. The U.S. is also supporting PKK/YPG terrorists in Syria. These problems should be solved. It is up to Biden and his team to alleviate tension between Turkey and the U.S. 
If they continue to support terrorists in the region, there will be no improvement in relations between Ankara and Washington. Turkey showed its strength in fighting terrorists and securing its borders. Turkey cleaned its borders from DAESH and YPG groups. Turkey also showed how it is capable of solving a regional crisis with its neighbors like Iran and Qatar.  Turkey, Iran, and Russia are conducting a very fruitful platform called Astana and it has been very functional in stopping the war in Syria. Now, it is time to run a political solution process in Syria. The U.S. can be part of the solution. Washington can make the right decisions and Turkey is always willing to develop friendly and constructive relations with the U.S.   

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