The White House announced this week that President Trump called Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on winning a sinister referendum that will lock-in his autocratic rule over the country and further erode Turkey’s democratic institutions, which are already on life-support, or maybe not even that. It is reported that 140,000 Turkish citizens have had their passports canceled. More than 100,000 people are at risk of imprisonment or worse for being suspected of complicity in the recent the attempted coup: so far 71,000 of these have been detained, and 41,000 have been arrested. Six thousand academics have lost their jobs, 4,000 judges and prosecutors, 24,000 policemen and security personnel, and 200 governors and their staff members. Seven thousand military personnel have been relieved of their posts. Fifteen universities, 1,000 schools, 28 TV channels, 66 newspapers, 19 magazines, 36 radio stations, 26 publishing houses and five news agencies have been shut down.
Erdogen has also imprisoned moderate Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas on the charge of inciting violence with his criticisms of the regime, and thousands of members of Demirtas’s political party, H.D.P., have been detained or arrested.
Our President’s irresponsible official response, if indeed he is aware of these developments (it is all a mouse click or briefing paper away) was, in essence, “Hell of a job, Ergie!”
It is not ethical, responsible leadership or competent representation of the values of the United States of America to the world for the President to applaud anti-democratic measures, emerging dictatorships, and human rights violations, or appear to be doings so, whatever the intent. Why should it even be necessary to write this?
One reason is that, as we know and have known for years, this President frequently does stuff and says things without thinking them through, or thinking at all. Another is that there is not a single reliable, trustworthy, forceful and respectable advisor among the barrel of monkeys that includes Trump’s assertive but experience-free son in law, the Fortress America-minded Steve Bannon, the wet noodle-spined Reince Priebus (or is it Rience Preibus?) and the in-so-far-over-her-head-that-she-is-under-the-shark Kellyanne Conway.
Let me renew Ethics Alarms’ earlier call for the President to capitulate to the obvious and recruit a forceful, experienced, accomplished figure to whip his chaotic administration into shape. The need for this measure was screamingly obvious two months ago; it is more obvious and urgent now. It will grow more so by the day until either the White House is in metaphorical flames or the President realizes that his “best people” pledge requires something more than relatives, yes-men and fanatics. Right now, the Trump administration is so far out of shape that it has none: this is like a re-make of “The Blob,” scarier than the original.
Pointer: Ethics Bob Stone.