Monday, February 11, 2013

AJK in Other Places

I hope nobody has this on RSS or anything, since this post is basically just for my family members (which is, like most blogs, the vast majority of the readership) to keep up.

At the end of August, I posted on Scribd my "Architectural Defense Against Drones" article. It was always supposed to be a "gee isn't this neat" sort of thing.

A few weeks ago I made a joke to Manan Ahmed on Twitter about the article. He was one of the inspirations for it, so it was very neat that he took interest in the project and wanted to publish it on Chapati Mystery. So he did.

I never thought it was going to go farther than Prof. Ahmed's little coterie of people. I thought it would be fun to have something to talk about with all those awesome South Asianists, historians, and other people if I ever met them one day. But it turns out that it got into a lot deeper water than that.

I did interviews for The Atlantic Cities and The Takeaway.

From there, it really kind of got out of hand. So now you can read about my little sandcastle on The Smithsonian Mag, FastCo Design, Popular Science, Vice, Animal New York, Andrew Sullivan's Dish, and BoingBoing.

And incredibly amusing to me, Forbes gave it a writeup and so did Lawfare. In what should be incredibly unsurprising news, I don't think they really got what I was going for.

There's lots of other thoughts out there on the project, but those are at least the ones I'm aware of. There's some weird corners of the internet that are talking about it, but I suppose that's part of the fun of the internet; everything you say on it will be stretched to cover all sorts of new things. I say that in all earnestness, by the way. I understand Gary Larson's fear about this sort of thing, but it's kind of exciting and interesting to see how people take a 10-page doodle and really go to town with it.

So I probably have lots more to say, but nothing that's really relevant to right now. If you have any questions for me about this sort of thing, you should be able to figure out how to contact me. Or just leave a comment or something.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Still writing, but more about sports

I admittedly feel a bit strange about making a big deal of writing about sports. Because on one hand sports are pointless and stupid, and on the other hand points are pointless and stupid. I'm not trying to make salient points, I'm just, y'know, chattin' about the big game and all. But since sports are meaningless, I get to try things out and see how receptive people are to it. Because sports are meaningless, people will respond and tell me if I'm an idiot. So there's a lot of plusses to wasting everyone's goshdang time.

I may be writing about sports more in the future, if things go to plan. There's a lot to be written and I may be the fella to write it. One of my many criticisms of sports coverage is how it is used to delineate white male conformity. That ol' article about Bryce Harper, Conservative Hero is probably the best example of how sportswriting commands a lot of people who don't read much else how to think and feel. It's all pretty gross, and it is kind of fun to be on the other side of it.

So since people like Grantland and ESPN (which: same thing!) are terrified to write about foreigners playing sports in ways that aren't demeaning, childish, and just plain wrong, I've taken it upon myself to do pretty much that. I got to write about Turkey for The Classical. They are real rad folks: led by David Roth the writer and lots of other great folks, they do post-punk sports journalism and seem to be genuinely having fun destroying narratives and writing about how much fun sports are. I particularly enjoyed writing this, because I got to take Rick Reilly, one of the all-time sniveling conniving white pride jackasses at ESPN (which is really saying something) to task. He wrote about how gosh-darn scary Turkey is, so I get to write about how gosh-darn awesome Turkey is.

So if you're interested in basketball or minority life in Turkey or just me, check out the article. Sorry this isn't well-written, for I have lots of other writing to do tonight.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An Architectural Defense Against Drones

This past Spring semester, I took a class in the Sam Fox School over on the other side of Wash U. The class was "Extreme Architecture" and in it, Prof. Fraser pushed us to investigate extreme environments. I could think of no environment more extreme than the one presented to us by drone warfare.

Much has been made about how to correctly use drones. Journalistic hemming coincides with academic hawing as the American people try to understand what they can and should do with the tremendous power of remote-controlled death.

None of these people have considered how to defend themselves from drones, only how to better control them.

I propose that no jurisprudence, no sociology, and no anthropology is currently prepared to understand how to live under the threat of drones. I propose that architecture is the only field that can properly define the outer limits of this fear and how to interact with it while trying to maintain a semblance of normality in the life someone else is trying to end. Fear, normality, defense, and safety are matters for architecture. A solution must be welcoming and cozy, but also bristling in a defensive posture.

The project is linked here. You know where to find me if you're looking for more questions or answers. Welcome to Shura City.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Walter Russell Mead Went to Yale

I sure don't know what else he has done. He has three books listed on his Wikipedia entry:
  1. Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World.
  2. Power, Terror, Peace and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk.
  3. God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World
I know that authors don't choose their titles often, but wow, have you seen a more White Apologist list of titles? Mead's dripping, treacly Yale-ness oozes over everything he writes, up to and including his pseudo-Latin titled blog, Via Meadia. He writes lots of stupid things there, the most fascinating of which is his fascination with Iran and Turkey going to war.

Mead is an example of the epidemic of Yale-ness spread through and through American decision-making. He has, of course, no expertise in Turkey, Iran, Islam, non-Arabs and the Arab World, or literally anything else he is writing about. In any subject; housing, education, employment, South Asia...he has no background whatsoever. He is literally making things up as he goes along. I can not overemphasize this point. Me, a law student in the midwest who has but a brief background in the history of Iran but has never read a book exclusively about modern Iran or Iranian history can tell that he is making things up. But he gets a pedestal because He Went to Yale.

Let us begin:
For 400 of the past 500 years, Turkey has dominated Mesopotamia and struggled for power and riches with Iran, which could never quite push the Ottomans out of the Fertile Crescent.
I guess he's starting from Yavuz I Selim, which is cool. Except that Selim didn't fight the Safavids in  Mesopotamia, he fought the Mamluks and Abbasids. And the Ottoman and Safavid Empires are so structurally, institutionally, linguistically, and any other adverb different from the modern republics of Turkey and Iran so as to be completely alien to them. It would be like comparing the Navajo and Cherokee to Arizona and Oklahoma. And that one hundred years not included would be, I assume the 20th century. Where KIND OF LOTS OF THINGS HAPPENED W/R/T MESOPOTAMIA. So every word is factually and heuristically incorrect and we haven't even left the premise. Great.
Turkish economic power is the most important weapon of the Turkish pushback.
He block-quotes the vast majority of his analysis from a Bill Spindle piece in the Wall Street Journal. It is important to note that Spindle is WSJ's Arab correspondent. Read does not use anything from Joe Parkinson, Ayla Albayrak, or Emre Peker in Turkey, all of whom may know a great deal more about Turkey's business community. Calling Turkish economic power a "weapon" in a "pushback" is a bit strange. Iraq - especially Kurdistan - wanted things built and Turkey had the industrial base to build them. Why is this a weapon? It's not like Iran has sprawling concrete factories and innumerable civil engineers to compete; they've all been sanctioned and bombed out of commission, respectively.
However, the sectarian divide between Iraq’s Shiite government and moderately Sunni Turkey is a big obstacle to the expansion of Turkish influence in Iraq. 
Didn't you just say that Turkish companies were making hee-yuuuge piles of money in Iraq? So no, there is no big obstacle. There may be occasional political quarrels, but that's literally what countries do all the time. Canada wants its citizens taken out of Guantanamo, but they're not exactly about to shut-down the border.
Now facing economic sanctions, Iran is having a hard time keeping up with its historical Turkish rivals. Turkish companies can often offer better products at better prices, and the Iranian banking system is hobbled by international sanctions.
Hooray! Facts. Well, except for that "historic Turkish rival" thing which is the linchpin of this two-sentence paragraph. They're such bitter rivals as to have visa-free travel and deep enough trading ties for Turkey to lobby against said hobbling international sanctions.  Because shared economic interests may, possibly, be more important than a few wars a few centuries ago (SEE: British-French relations historically as compared to currently).

 The Turkish businesses that benefit most from the newly opened Iraqi market are Anatolian businesses, many of which are allied with the ruling moderate Islamists in Ankara. The big businesses based in Istanbul are primarily linked to Western and European markets. They aren’t benefiting as much from Iraqi ties as their Anatolian counterparts — something that only confirms Turkey’s Islamist politicians in their belief that Turkey’s prosperity should be sought in its old Ottoman-era provinces to the south and east.
I'm honestly very curious who told them this, because it's comically misleading. Do me a favor: picture a map of Turkey in your head. If you didn't feel like the Google Image Search (Mead sure didn't), here's the first result. Note where Istanbul is. Note where Iraq is. Note where Anatolia is. Do you see how Anatolia is that huge landmass between Istanbul and Iraq? Do you think that, if I was an Iraqi buying concrete from Turkey, I would buy it from the folks thousands of kilometer closer to me? And if I was German, I would buy concrete from Istanbul? And do you think that, to borrow a phrase from Live Aid, concrete knows it's Ramadan?

As for "Turkey's prosperity", well, I could find 2010 data in a 5-second search. It's on page 6 here. You can see that 42%(!!!) of Turkey's trade is with the EU. From there, it's Russia, China, and the U.S. Fifth place is Iran, that ancient enemy, with 3.6% (or about one-twelfth of the EU). Iraq is next with 2.5% of trade, or two-thirds of trade with Iran. Then there's a bunch of "old Ottoman-era provinces"...but not until 6, 10, 11, 13, 15: UAE, Saudi, Algeria, and Israel all in the 1% area. That's right, Israel, proud Jews and therefore enemies of this "Islamicist" government, still does big business with Turkey. 

Turkey does business with pretty much anyone with cash. They should be heralded as free-market wizards by these wizened Yalie Friedmanites. And more on-point to this column and to bury the lede hopelessly: Turkey does vastly more business with their "ancient enemy" than with their "new prosperity", and both of which are negligible compared to EU-related trade. Literally everything you, Mr. Mead, have written is drastically and horrifically incorrect and could be proven so with a very brief moment of research.
Neo-Ottoman Turks can now foresee a time when Syria and Iraq, once key Ottoman provinces, once again come into a Turkish sphere of influence. For other countries in the region, that isn’t good news. Look for Saudi Arabia to start worrying about Turkey in much the same way it now worries about Iran. Egypt, too, isn’t sure it wants to see Turkey take its place as the dominant player in the Middle East.
These are just words. Why are these countries scared of an "ascendant Turkey" if they are going to be doing business with 'em as suggested in the paragraph right above? Why are they worried? What are they worried about? Can you honestly name two adjectives describing Turkey, Mr. Read? Even if I spot you "Muslim"?
The Mesopotamian Game of Thrones continues — much as it has for the last 6000 years.
Nope nope nope nope nope. I appreciate your attempts to launch into pop-culture buzzwords -- you must have an intern! -- but literally none of this has anything to do with Assyrians, Babylonians, Sumerians, or any of that. Turks came into Mesopotamia for the first time 500 years ago, as you just said. Persians came in well before then; but even if we're polite enough to call Medians both Persian and an empire, we're still only talking 2,600 years ago (or less than half of that stupid number you picked because it fits Christian eschatology). And one of the unique aspects of Turkey's relationship with Iraq (I know less about Iran's, to be blunt) is that Turkey and Iraq negotiate at arm's length; Turkey does not attempt to exert force over Iraq. They're certainly not going to let thousands of their soldiers die for it, like you want them to.

Every fact, premise, assertion, and conclusion in this piece is completely, categorically, inexplicably and indubitably incorrect. If I turned this in for any of my classes in undergraduate, I would fail. I know you didn't take any of these classes, and you probably would turn up your nose if I told you they were at a lowly state school.

Yale and Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge are still seen as the ultimate vetting processes that delineate smart from stupid, worth listening to from ignorable. Hay has been made of the fact that all of the Supreme Court Justices went to either Yale or Harvard, and that they have all been taught by the same teachers, to the exclusion of the vast majority of American jurisprudence theory. The Supreme Court has come to judicially incoherent, if not outright nihilistic, conclusions in some cases simply because they have no idea what they are talking about. I'm sure anyone can thing of their favorite few cases, but in what I'm dealing with now, jurisdiction over Indian Country, the case history is full of capricious rulings because none of the justices had ever encountered Indian Law before they came to the bench. This wouldn't be a big deal, of course, were it not for the fact that American Indians are still here and still citizens of this country.

You don't just get the right to spout your white mouth because Providence has granted you a degree from Harvard. I certainly have to live with the consequences if you do. As do the thousands of people you are openly hoping to kill each other. Please remember that the next time you lick your lips lasciviously at the thought of inter-confessional war to make Northern Ireland (which, you know, involved Christians) look like the Yale-Harvard Boat Race.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Boom City

I wrote this to get published, but nobody's really interested in Fourth of July stories once you get past the Fifth of July. So nothing ever really came of it. Still, it was fun writing it, so maybe you'll find it fun reading it. Who knows?

Boom City is aptly named. There are few open-air markets left in the United States
whose smoke can be seen from the interstate and whose explosions go off with palpituous
irregularity, but a Reservation just north of Seattle holds the biggest one. The pop-up market for
fireworks revolves around Fourth of July celebrations – independence and explosions go hand in
hand – but there is perhaps nothing more American than this parking lot that gets a free-market
makeover in time for summer every year.

Fireworks are one of the more joyous celebrations of state rights. Every part of the
United States gets to choose how and why to regulate what explosives can be sold to the local
pyromaniacs and teenagers (as if those are separate groups). Indian Reservations are the rump
states of empires across the land and, as befitting rump states, are allowed a degree of autonomy.
How large a degree is the source of mountains of litigation and oceans of ink, but in today’s
world Indian Nations have made money on fireworks and gambling. This is largely due to
historical circumstances where prime farmland, harbors, and mineral deposits have been taken
out of Indian hands. Indian Tribes’ greatest competitive advantage, for acknowledged better or
worse, is in the sorts of things state governments don’t like:. fireworks and gambling. The ones
here are a bit livelier than most.

And “lively” or one of its sister words - vivacious, teeming, buzzing - seems apt. The
smell of gunpowder is in the air and even on a rainy day people are hollering. The “city” is a
gravel lot full of plywood shacks containing fearsome amounts of light explosives. The first
impression is that of a Renn Fest, that this is the domain of a small subgroup finally welcome
among their own. But the demographics and fashion really don’t bear that out. One gets the
sense after a few minutes that they’re in a mall, just one temporarily situated on a gravel lot.
Tweens in Beiber haircuts or clip-on earrings chase each other around or watch languorously
from tables. It’s hardly a lawless event, and the orange vested security keeps a lid on any illicit
sales or trades. But there certainly is a mischievous air as kids snap caps at each others’ feet
while their parents try to drive a hard bargain fifty feet away.

The bargaining, of course, is another reminder that this isn’t a megaplex but a real city.
The salesfolk fully embrace their hucksterishness and will latch on to anyone who happens to
make eye contact. Any pun or pop culture reference is fair game; a sign promising The Matrix:
Reloadable Explosives sells well even if the movie it claims a (tenuous) relation to did not.
Superheroes are always a big draw, as are explosives that embrace their militant roots. One
shop, “Captain Kirk’s Enterprise,” is run by a real-live veteran who has successfully placed
himself at the crux of these markets and has the line outside his stand to show for it. Though one
suspects the innumerable hand-painted signs for him - and, to be fair, his competitors - certainly
don’t hurt.

Like any good bazaar, the most interesting action goes on outside. Food stalls are set up
for both festival fare (hot dogs, burgers, lemonade) and Native favorites (fry bread, fish stew, hot
dogs, burgers, lemonade). Past this is the testing range full of showmen with fake grins and
children with real ones. Even further are the train cars full of cardboard boxes from China.
Unlike inside the city, these men are not the loud, puckish, shills but their calm, collected,
counterparts. In between runs of boxes they will make it very clear that they don’t sell out of the
train cars and (but?) are happy to talk if you want to meet elsewhere. These human calculators
are as sinister as the show may get, but even that is in a coldly capitalistic sense. Those who run
the show at Boom City are interested in big enough explosions to rake in the cash, but no further.

A day at Boom City is equal parts carnival and arms bazaar. The older folks complain
about how things were better in the good ol’ days when you could buy tennis balls filled with
gunpowder and when the kids weren’t preoccupied by the First Nations Snowboarding Team
kiosk that came all the way from British Columbia. They’ll also complain that too many Tribal
Members rely on Boom City for their year’s income, and that a cloudy July 4, like the one this
year, means the same thing that a bad salmon run used to. Of course, now the salmon runs are all
bad and the Independence Days are only getting sunnier (and warmer). The Earth may change its
ways and the Nation may change its means, but in the end the men and women of Boom City
will survive and thrive through both the bangs and fizzles.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Indian Reservations (the Weirdness Thereof)

For those that don't know, I am doing land titling/land use/development/one of those oddly titled and proportioned jobs on an American Indian Reservation this summer. It's interesting stuff and I am enjoying most every minute of it. But sometimes, weird things happen.

On this reservation, much of the waterfront property is owned by non-Indians. Most of them are friendly folk, here in their second homes or in a family home while they work in Everett or enjoy the retired life. It's a bit odd (read: very odd) to see proudly flown Union Jacks on an Indian Reservation, but hey, you don't choose your ancestry.

They are, however, the most tenacious defenders of their private property I've ever seen. High walls, prickly bushes, and every other machination to separate their land from the rest of the Reservation and even each other. It's charming to see all of these little compounds-by-the-shore, they are quite beautiful. But I wish that their guard dogs didn't bark and chase me down the street for a quarter mile every time I jog past their house on my lunch-break run.

It's a strange dichotomy. Most of the Tribal property on the Reservation is communal; the admin building, the school, the homeless shelter, the retirement home, and yes, the casino, the gas station, and the smoke shop. Most of the non-Indian property is gated off within an inch of its borders. Even outside of these borders are the guard dogs, patrolling the street for interlopers. The waterwards boundaries of these properties are even more interesting; armored with bulkheads and revetments to prevent the loss of property to the sea. Bulkheads may stop your property from erosion, but they force waves to chew through beaches and destroy habitats, spitting out the sand (and the energy) next door. The neighbor then buys a bulkhead to push the problem on his neighbor.

It's not a Tragedy of the Commons, it's a simple fear of public space. Public space - the road and the beach - are where danger happens. Instead of turning them into communal areas, the houses turn their backs to them. It isn't because of crime, it's because of the specter of crime.

These ownership policies aren't destroying Reservations. A century and a half of misuse, drug abuse, lack of access to education, and a whole laundry list of "what else" have far more to do with that. But dang, it's not really helping, now, is it? If a kid can't jog down a street without the fear of getting bitten, why should we listen when your lawyers tell us you want to work with the Tribe to help "community members"? And why aren't we included in the list of "community members"?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Syria and Turkey: REAL FOCUSED on America Right Now

I should start off by saying: I really like Joshua Foust. I cut my teeth on Registan and would like to go back there semi-eventually, and Mr. Foust was one of the first people to get me to start thinking critically about news and news cycles. He has the memory of an elephant and the analyses of a....well, an animal that can think real well.

All that said, I am not a huge fan of his latest piece for PBS on Turkey and Syria. I was surprised to see the byline because to my knowledge Mr. Foust hasn't written about the Middle East or Turkey before. His game is in Central Asia. And I was immediately skeptical, because I knew when I first stumbled into Central Asia that there was a whole lot to dig through before I could form my own intelligent opinions. It's a minefield few tread tactfully in.

And anyways, Yigal Schleifer already wrote the bullet-point version of the Turkey/Syria weirdness, so what else was there to write?

Long story short; Mr. Foust uses exactly two Turkish sources, both Today's Zaman from a few years ago talking about the bright happy days when Syria and Turkey were working together (it was about the same time, by the way, that the State Department was sending American kids to Syria for Arabic Language courses, so it's not exactly like we're dealing with The Perfidious Turks here). Everything else is CNN, NYT, or some other white boy explaining how things work over there, without letting the workers explain it themselves.

If Mr. Foust was doing one of his traditional "Here's what the American press is saying, and here's why it's stupid" pieces, this would be fantastic. Unfortunately, it isn't, and it isn't.

Saying that Turkey is "claiming the incident is an attack not just on Turkey but also on the whole of NATO" and that this is "a gambit Ankara has been pushing for months" doesn't seem to quite mesh. Turkey's government has been a soul of caution throughout the whole Syrian implosion; it does not want any more refugees than it can currently handle and does not want to be the home to a humanitarian crisis as it was after Gulf War One. At the same time, Erdoğan has taken Assad's perfidy as a personal insult and will harbor no good will for the man like he did when waffling on Ghaddafi. Turkey's government wants an end to the bloodshed, but does not want that end to be tens of thousands of homeless Syrians staying on Turkish soil.

*I wish I could find some citations for all of this but its late and I don't feel like going through terribly-designed Turkish Newspaper Archives at the moment. Please forgive me and call me out on any specifics you don't like.


I haven't heard anybody talk about Article 4 and Article 5 of NATO's Treaty outside of Washington, DC. It seems like the sort of thing poli sci majors take to Twitter about to high-five each other on their knowledge of things, but that's not the sort of thing sweeping the Turkish public. It's arcana, and I'm not sure its relevant to anyone outside of DC (or maybe Brussels).

Also, again, the only people talking about conflict between Turkey and Syria seem to be the Americans who are openly licking their lips at Muslims killing Muslims. Syria and Turkey seem to have acknowledged a cluster-fuck on Syria's part. Likely there is an out of work Air Traffic Controller in Syria this week. But it's not like Erdoğan getting his yell on is a new event, he does this literally every week for something else (abortion, building canals in Istanbul, building ugly space-age mosques in Istanbul, tearing down ugly statues of Armenian-Turkish friendship, and that's all off the top of my head). There is a lot of laviscious lip-licking and hope that Turkey will take down the Assadian menace. I'm not sure what proof there is for this other than the hope that they'll start killing each other. It's like the Underpants Gnomes' sadistic sisters or something.

Finally, comparing Syria to Kurdistan is a bit strange. Talabani and Maliki have both seem to come to some sort of agreement with Turkey that allows the Turkish military to go in and take out presumed PKK members if the intelligence is good enough. There is certainly high-level intelligence sharing between the two countries, not to mention the millions of dollars of construction and infrastructure that Turkey is contributing to the Iraqi economy. There is no Iraq without Turkey, I don't think, and Iraq has comfitted itself with treating some dead Kurds with quietude if the money keeps rolling in. It's a situation very similar to US/Pakistan in that regard, but with much smaller stakes. Unless you happen to be the wrong smuggler on the wrong road at the wrong time, of course.

Turkey, of course, almost invaded Syria in 1998. Papa Assad was forced to kick Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK, out of Syria after working together for a few years (even using the PKK to initiate strikes in Hatay, which is still a part of Syria in most 20th century Syrian maps). The two countries' relationship can be described as uneasy at best; when they can use each other, they do, and when they can't, the teeth get bared. This is not unusual in the long history of international relations, from what I gather.

That is the point-by-point takedown. The conclusion I've come to is pretty much opposite of Mr. Foust's:

In short, Turkey has run out of patience over the Syrian civil war, and has done almost all it can short of military action to bring the fighting to a close. While it remains unwise to involve NATO in a response, Turkey is certainly within its rights to want to prevent fighting next door from adve butrsely affecting the country.
Even intervening directly in Syria is not without precedent, but Turkey should exercise caution. Dragging NATO into a conflict with Syria might not safeguard Turkish interests. And a Turkish-Syrian war could have resounding regional implications far beyond the plight of massacred Syrian civilians
The phrase "short of military action" is one that always bothered me, because it's never true. Really? Turkey's done everything? Of course not. They haven't done a blockade, they haven't even tried rapproachment with Russia and Syria, they haven't trained the insurgency...shoot, they haven't even decided what to do about Syrian Kurds. Turkey still aims to become the peacemakers and to have a large foot in post-Assad Syria. They've noticed that people don't like other people's soldiers and would rather not play that game. This isn't hopelessness and this isn't NATO.

The problem I see in this piece is usually the sorts of problems Mr. Foust counteracts. It comes from a blithely American point of view and elides the point that neither Syria nor Turkey really care what the United States thinks about the downed airplane. I personally couldn't help but guffaw at the SecState "We express condemnation and concern" sorts of things...they don't mean anything. Syria and Turkey are not looking up to NATO like two fighting siblings, they're gonna try to handle this on their own. The Turkish populace will get lathered up, certainly, but nobody is itching for a war with no easy nor obvious exit. Except for Americans hoping to see old-enemy-Syria and new-enemy-for-reasons-we're-still-not-quite-sure-about-Turkey start shooting each other. 

Such "well, what can we do?" sort of statements belong better from Claire Berlinski or whatever journalist-bro is in charge of Pajamas Media these days. It simply doesn't seem like something that Mr. Foust would usually write, because he's usually way more into second-order thinking. What can Turkey get from killing some Syrians in revenge for a downed plane? What can Syria get from intentionally taking down the plane as an act of war to begin with? Trying to forge a pattern from a few years of history while ignoring the facts that don't fit just isn't becoming.

So that's my response to that. Hopefully Mr. Foust won't be too upset with this because as I said, I really admire the guy, and I just don't think this is his best work as he makes a foray away from Central Asia. These things are complicated, and they deserve the grace to be treated as so. And of course, Erdoğan could always change tack entirely and make me look like a fool. This is an eventuality we all must prepare for, even, if reports are accurate, Abdullah Gül.