Tony Blankley

Plato defined man as "animal bipes implume" (a "two-legged animal without feathers"). While a rather sardonic definition, given our species' performance currently, I think Plato's definition is more fitting than the rather self-admiring title of Homo sapiens ("wise man"). Almost any news story that has appeared in the past few years would support my argument; I think you might agree.

But I have in mind this week two barely reported events that have every potential to induce havoc in the most volatile region of the world. Need I say I am referring to the land of political madness that is encompassed by the geography from Turkey to Pakistan? In fact, I refer precisely to Turkey and Pakistan.

Let's talk Turkey first. The Turkish high court (known as the Constitutional Court) announced Monday that they have decided to take a case on closing Turkey's governing party, the Justice and Development Party, and banning its top political leaders -- its current vastly popular prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his ally, President Abdullah Gul.

If I might add en passant, I had dinner last year at the Willard Hotel in Washington with Abdullah Gul. And a more charming and civilized chap one would be hard-pressed to find. But he, as his prime minister and party, are what one might call soft Islamists: very far from the bomb-throwing, throat-cutting lunatics but supportive of head scarves for Muslim women and dedicated to a gentle rollback of Kemal Atatürk's (Turkey's founder) indomitable secularism. (Praised be he.)

Eight of the 11 members of the Constitutional Court -- along with most of the military, the government bureaucracy and much of the business community -- are staunchly secular. By this decision, the secular establishment has decided to challenge the popular government -- confirmed by the public in a big electoral victory last July -- in what may well be a fateful decision.

If they outlaw Erdogan, Gul and the Justice and Development Party, they will act in defiance of the popular Turkish will about as dramatically as would have been the case if Franklin Roosevelt's government had been outlawed in the fall of 1933 by Herbert Hoover's Supreme Court.

While my sympathies are with the secularists, I dread the consequences of an undemocratic court outlawing a popularly elected government, particularly as the government denies being Islamist and is treading very carefully down the path back to Turkish Islam in government. If the court tries to turn out the government, we are likely to see a more radical reformation of Turkish government and culture. And with that, the last hope will expire of a major Muslim country committed to genuine integration into Western civilization.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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