Just days after a series of Turkish police raids targeting unpublished books and criticism of political Islam, Francis “Frank” J. Ricciardone, Obama’s un-confirmable ambassadorial recess appointment to Turkey, is at it again. Having made his career in the 1980s shilling for Saddam Hussein, in the 1990s trying to undermine Iraqi opposition unity, and this past decade arguing that Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was so popular in Egypt that he could even win election in the United States, Ricciardone is now interjecting himself in the midst of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opposition crackdown to praise the strength of Turkey’s democracy.
According to Zaman, a newspaper affiliated with Islamist cult leader Fethullah Gulen, Ricciardone said, “There has been a great development in democratic structure in Turkey,” and praised Turkey’s “open democracy.”
On the same day Ricciardone made his comments, Turkey’s most prominent bank chairman resigned after criticizing the ruling party for threatening police measures against bankers who did not follow the ruling party’s political dictates.
Ricciardone and, by extension, President Obama just don’t get it: American interests do not lay in ingratiation to dictators. Ricciardone should not put lipstick on a pig. Saying nice things about dictators does not make abuse-of-power go away; it encourages it. When an ambitious, corrupt Islamist like Erdogan tries to monopolize power, it is essential to encourage Turkey’s system to develop checks-and-balances that protect civil society.