Atatürk's Republic

Following Turkish News, Politics, Arts and Culture

Clueless in Turkiye

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As I sat and watched a stream of the violent raid on Taksim square Tuesday night, I like many others wondered what the Turkish government could possibly be thinking.  What did they have to gain by repeatedly gassing demonstrators on the eve of promised talks with protest representatives?  Why would the governor lie to the people he governs?  Why would the Prime Minster set the stage for a showdown between two groups of his own citizens?  It was irrational.  It was insanity.

To an outside observer the Turkish government’s and PM Erdogan’s don’t appear to be acting upon any rational strategy aimed at resolving these protests.  What is their end game?  Perhaps the essential problem is that there is none.  According to an intriguing new approach to game theory, some actors are simply “clueless.”  Michael Chwe, who introduced this theory, was inspired by the interaction between two characters of unequal social status in the novel Pride and Prejudice.  The higher ranking character believes that she can control the actions of a lower ranking character simply by throwing around the weight of her social standing.  However, the lower ranking character refuses to be controlled and is actually able to manipulate the situation to her advantage because of the anger she elicits from her superior.  Despite her social advantage, the higher ranking character looses in the end.  She is “clueless” about other factors impacting the situation because her anger precludes her from approaching the situation in a rational manner.  In other words “calling your enemy an animal might improve your bargaining position or deaden your moral qualms, but at the expense of not being able to think about your enemy strategically.”  PM Erdogan is currently “clueless” and is allowing his anger to cloud his judgement, raising the tension in Turkey to a dangerous level.  Both Erdogan and his government stand to loose big if they continue to allow their real but tenuous popularity to convince themselves they have the upper hand.

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  1. […] Sadar of the Atatürk’s Republic blog had an interesting post on this last Tuesday, “Clueless in Türkiye,” in which she speculated that he may have none. In her analysis, she refers to a new […]


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