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The rise and fall of Turkey as a model for the Arab Spring

Guest Column by Kemal Kirişci. Kirişci will give Friday’s Morning Lecture in the Amphitheater at 10:45 a.m.

As the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to the rest of the Middle East early in 2011, the longtime opposition figure Rashid al-Gannouchi, also the co-founder and leader of Tunisia’s an-Nahda party, was among the many leaders who pointed to Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led Turkey as a model for guiding the transformation of the Middle East. Gannouchi maintained close relations with AKP and its leadership, which later became closely involved in Tunisia’s transformation efforts. Yet, after a May 2013 talk on “Tunisia’s Democratic Future” at The Brookings Institution, Gannouchi’s response to a question asking him which countries he thought constituted a model for Tunisia was striking because he did not mention Turkey. It is probably not a coincidence that he responded the way he did because the news about the harsh police response to the initial stages of the anti-government protests in Turkey was just breaking out. Subsequently, in an interview he gave to Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post early in June, he also took a critical view of both Mohammed Morsi and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for their majoritarian understanding of democracy, a view that he said an-Nahda renounces. So what happened to Turkey’s model credentials? What might have led Gannouchi to change his views so dramatically? Are there any prospects for Turkey to reclaim these credentials?

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In Turkey, a transformation to populist autocracy

Guest Column by Michael Rubin

Standing beside Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the White House on May 16, 2013, President Barack Obama hailed Turkey.

“This visit reflects the importance that the United States places on our relationship with our ally, Turkey,” he said.

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Morning Lecture guest column: Mass incarceration, American exceptionalism — and the federal public defender

Today, I will be speaking on “Mass Incarceration and American Exceptionalism.” I will address the enormity of our “imprisonment problem,” our love affair with incarceration, how we got there, and how inadequate our criminal justice system has been in addressing it. Recent developments have made the latter point all the more clear. We have a much-vaunted adversary system — but one of the important adversaries, the federal public defender, is about to enter the ring underfunded, understaffed and demoralized, all because of the “sequester.” Its opponent — the United States Attorneys’ office — has emerged unscathed. Indeed, in Boston, and I suspect other jurisdictions, the United States Attorneys’ office is hiring new assistants.

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Morning Lecture guest column: Systemic defects plague justice system

Guest column by Nina Morrison.

When Innocence Project client Michael Morton was finally released from prison in Georgetown, Texas, on October 4, 2011, he said it felt like coming up from underwater. For so many years, the state had pushed him down, mocking his protestations of innocence and painting him as a monster to be reviled. Michael had spent nearly 25 years behind bars for the murder of his own wife before he was finally exonerated.

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Morning Lecture guest column: Television and the pursuit of happiness

Guest column by Paula Kerger. Kerger will give Friday’s Morning Lecture in the Amphitheater at 10:45 a.m.

The topic of happiness seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. From the recent cover of Time magazine to the highest levels of government, across the country and around the world, this topic has become increasingly important. What does it mean to be happy? How does the happiness of individuals contribute to robust communities? How can we build public policy that supports the attainment of happiness? What may seem like an unusual focus, given these difficult economic times, actually is a very basic human need, and is at the root of the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness outlined by our nation’s founders.

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Morning Lecture guest column: With dopamine, troughs just as important as surges

We all know what happiness is. Even us curmudgeons can think back to a moment of quiet satisfaction when we looked around and thought, “This is good.”

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Morning Lecture guest column — Classical influences on the Founders: Myth or reality?

Guest column by Hunter Rawlings III. Rawlings will give Monday’s Morning Lecture at 10:45 a.m. in the Amphitheater.

Were our Founding Fathers motivated and influenced by the Greek and Roman classics, or is this just a nice myth that makes us feel connected to our European past? This turns out to be a real question, one about which serious scholars have had serious disagreements. Some have argued that our founders’ use of the classics was mere “window dressing,” meant to puff up their Enlightenment ideas with high-sounding rhetoric and impressive paradigms from the past. Others have pointed to our “mixed government” and to the founders’ frequent citations of Greek and Roman authors as clear evidence that our republican institutions were consciously modeled on classical practices and patterns. Which is it, myth or reality?

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Morning Lecture guest column: In most recent Supreme Court term, links to the past

It is an article of faith that knowing the past can help explain aspects of the present. What are the origins of some of the most intractable problems we face as a country? What are the underpinnings of our strengths? The end of this year’s Supreme Court term brought two cases — Shelby County v. Holder and Fisher v. the University of Texas — that vividly illustrate the connections between the past and the present.

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