Education should be restructured to eliminate coups totally

Education should be restructured to eliminate coups totally

Now is a new era, we all agree. With the “Balyoz” (sledgehammer), Ergenekon, Sept. 12 and Feb. 28 cases, we are claiming that military tutelage is over. We are talking about a new era in which those who stage coups to topple elected governments – and even those who attempted to plan a coup – will be punished.

We assume that at no military post will there be any conspiracy meetings held.

I wonder if these assumptions are realistic or are we fooling ourselves?

I have my own answer to this question: If the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) does not change its education system and its discourse and does not inject different knowledge and a different approach into minds, then the thought of coups d’état will not disappear completely.

It will now be extremely difficult to stage a coup, but what is more important is erasing the idea of a coup from the minds of the officers; this can only be made possible by changing the education currently applied.

Our officers do not enter military schools in favor of coups. It is us who plant the idea in their minds that they can intervene when necessary.

With the books they are reading… With the lectures the commanders deliver…

They grow up with these things and once they are out on the street, with what their civilian family members and friends tell them.

An officer raised this way does not see himself as a person who is in favor of coups. He does not believe that an intervention is a bad or wrong action. On the contrary, they believe they have acted to save the country.

All through his education, the same information is provided:

* This country’s foundations were laid by Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and he entrusted the country to you.

* The principles of Atatürk (one of them is the fight against bigots or fundamentalists, and another one is preventing separatism) should forever live on, and you should stand up to those who attempt to break these principles.

* All of you are heroes with sprits of a knight who regard the country above everything.

* You should stand against internal and external enemies.

If you summarize it, this message is given to the young brains: A colossal empire disintegrated because of bigots in the Ottoman Empire. Atatürk saved the country and gave it a new direction. Now it is your duty to protect this land that is left over and guard its independence.

All history textbooks in schools and economy lessons are organized around these principles. The conferences of the commanders, the lectures of superiors are all made along the same line.

It is drilled into the young officer’s brain that he has a right to intervene when there is a necessity to “save the country.”

A young officer raised this way may be wary of court verdicts, but he cannot get rid of the “saving the country” instinct totally. It is in his genes that he should resist internal enemies.

If we want the new era to be settled, if we want to have a healthy and coup-free democracy, then we need to change the books of the TSK – its discourse, in other words, its education, from top to bottom.

This stance should not be understood as the elimination of Atatürk and his principles from the barracks. These values should be taught with balance, but we should refrain from conveying exaggerated messages to our officer candidates and more importantly, we should not assign tutelage to our young people.

If we can achieve this, then we can truly believe that we have entered a new era.