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With Friends Like These

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In yet another clear signal about the consequences of embracing strongmen: violence erupted at the Turkish embassy in DC yesterday, just after Turkish President Erdogan enjoyed his cozy White House visit.

The clash involved pro- and anti-Erdogan groups. Turkish state media identified members of Erdogan’s own security team in the fighting. The videos and images are chilling.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration seems perfectly happy to ignore this blatant disregard for basic rights of speech and assembly. This comes in the wake of Trump’s congratulations for the April referendum that considerably strengthened Erdogan’s constitutional powers (despite observers’ concerns about the campaign’s fairness).

Canaries, coalmines, 1930s parallels… you know the refrain by now. The regular blows to democracy, civil society, and foundational rights risk numbing us. So keep your eye on this one, as we learn who was actually involved. This may be a case of riled-up opponents crossing lines—but it may also be that the security forces of foreign autocrat just directly attacked US residents and citizens on US soil with impunity.

Trump’s own history suggests he might even applaud such a move.

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