The Chicago Way: My Brother Nick and Lessons from a Turkish Coup

By John Kass

July 7, 2022

My brother Nicholas is a man of action and ideas.

Sometimes I wondered if he was born in the wrong century.  He spent 31 years in the United States Foreign Service, in the State Department, the National Security Council and CIA.

And if there is anyone who knows about the “Deep State” and how to respond to those Deep State Kemalists who try to brush it off with “conspiracy theory,” it is my brother Nick. He’s our guest on The Chicago Way podcast. To listen, just click on the links provided here.

Nick is retired now, working in the private sector, living outside Bucharest. And he’s a writer.

His latest is a brilliant piece in The American Conservative magazine, with this title, “Lessons from a Turkish Coup: The country that invented the ‘deep state’ teaches us how it can be dealt with.” And I’m providing a link here so you may read it yourself.

The parallels between Turkey and the United States are striking, amazing, frightening and dangerous. The  Deep State tried to crush populism and failed in Turkey, and in the U.S., with our American Kemalists in the military, journalism, academia, and the corporate world.

“People will talk conspiracies,” said co-host Jeff Carlin. “But you draw a lot of interesting parallels through history. Everyone should read this to understand what we’re going through right now.”

I agree. Nick didn’t want to serve up a bag of red meat to activists across the partisan American divide. He’s not interested in that. He wanted people to take this issue seriously, so partisanship wouldn’t get in the way of understanding.

“I really think people should start paying attention to this issue in a big way,” he says on this edition of The Chicago Way. “Some want to promote the idea of a deep state, and others want to dismiss it all as a conspiracy theory. “It reminds me of that line in ‘The Godfather,’ where Michael says, “Who’s being naïve, Kay?”

When we were young men working in the butcher shop of our family store, Nick was working toward his black belt in Kyokushinkai Karate. He’d disappear into the meat cooler and throw left hooks at the hanging cattle like Rocky Balboa. Our dad hated that.

Years later, he’d disappear into books and papers at Georgetown University. And later he’d disappear into Turkey. The U.S. government knew where he was, but we didn’t. He never talked about his work. Our mom didn’t like that. Moms want to know everything.

He’s now retired, after having served 31 years, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Director of Intelligence at the White House/National Security Council, as Deputy National Intelligence officer (Europe) at the National Intelligence Council.

And CIA.

 I’ve been to some of those secret award ceremonies where he received the highest awards, but government officials didn’t talk about them. And he didn’t either. He can talk now, he’s in the private sector now, in international corporate affairs at the Alexandrion Group, headquartered near Bucharest Romania. He’s briefed presidents, House Speakers, generals, U.S. Senators And now he briefs you, as our guest on The Chicago Way podcast.

Hope you listen, share, and tell your friends.

Here’s an excerpt of his piece in The American Conservative that we talk about on this edition of The Chicago Way:

“Prominent members of the elite managerial and professorial class, ensconced in their stylish metropolitan bubbles and generally clueless about the wider society, called on the military to save the establishment, which they equated with democracy itself. They feared what they saw as the rising power of the political reactionaries in their cheap suits, their religious obscurantism, and their unwashed supporters from the hinterlands. 

Mass demonstrations were organized, castigating the traditional religious values important to the challenger’s voters as inherently theocratic and unacceptable. They underscored the message that when it came to political thought, no diversity was to be permitted. Conformity to elite delineation of what constituted acceptable discourse was rigidly enforced. Media organs that on rare occasions permitted deviation from the establishment view were silenced—sometimes their stay in the penalty box was short-lived, on other occasions it was permanent. 

The political leader was subjected to investigation and prosecution, hounded from office, and banned from the public square. Anti-establishment activists and critics, political moderates who simply questioned the wisdom of the established order, pious citizens, and others were threatened with exposure as closet reactionaries, shunned, and purged from public life. They were condemned by judges and bureaucrats relying on establishment media “reporting” as evidence of criminality. 

Education bureaucrats stepped up their efforts to indoctrinate school children in the dominant ideology and undercut religious instruction and values. Many students, particularly women, who did not affirmatively support the ideological line were denied access to universities. 

The enforcement of the dominant ideology and the establishment regime, one top general proclaimed, would continue for 1,000 years under the watchful eye of the security apparatus.”

My brother Nick.

Hope you listen, share, subscribe free to The Chicago Way wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to while you’re at it and get the podcast delivered to your email inbox.

And tell your friends. You don’t want them to be naive Kay, do you?


(Copyright 2022 John Kass)

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