Last week I went to see "Jason Bourne," the fifth installment in a series about the eponymous CIA operative. Bourne, played by Matt Damon, is a grittier, more troubled American James Bond who has "gone off the reservation." AWOL since the debut of "Bourne" over 14 years ago, Damon searches for answers in every successive movie while dodging imminent death. What he lacks in sophistication and panache, he makes up for with good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat. The movies never lack a moment without intense energy, plot twists, gore and non-stop, unadulterated adrenaline. There is just one problem: "Jason Bourne" was boring.
"Is this one really dull or is it just me?" I asked my wife half-way through the movie. By that point there had been countless fatalities, chase scenes, new plot-lines and unforeseen twists. Apparently, it was just me. I soon realized that relative to what I had experienced on the night of July 15, every action flick from now on would be boring. It has been exactly one month since the coup attempt, and life will never be the same for me and those who were in Turkey that night.
That night I heeded the call from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan together with millions of Turks and went to the airport to secure it for his arrival. Seizing tanks with thousands of Turks while F-16s threatened with sonic booms only a few hundred meters above really gets the blood racing. Only a few hundred meters ahead, Erdogan landed and was speaking to the people who had gathered to greet him. The helicopters of those behind the coup, armed with snipers, desperately looked to take a shot.
The people who surrounded the tanks did so intent on disarming them and ending the coup attempt. While the coup attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, there were a few minutes in which those that orchestrated it appeared to have complete control. By now, the stories of untold bravery and courage in the face of certain death have become lore for many Turks. In this age of information, every story is accompanied by videos from every angle. The most recent video I saw features a man on a roof throwing a crowbar at an F-16 as it buzzes over a building. The crowbar appears to make contact. Imagine the state of mind of the person throwing the crowbar, and more importantly the calculation that went into getting it to hit the fighter jet.
As Turkey recovers from the coup, the recovery will be emotional more than anything else. The infrastructure that was damaged is nearly all repaired, the financial markets have returned to pre-coup levels with those investors who invested in Turkish markets immediately following the coup rewarded handsomely for sticking with Turkey. Those who shorted the markets, or those who sold currencies or equities they did not own, are down over 10 percent since July 15. So what does the future hold for Turkey?
Already a nation of entrepreneurs, Turkey's business leaders will add thwarting a coup to their resumes. Succeeding in adversity is perhaps the key ingredient that separates successful entrepreneurs from those who fail. The adversity that the coup challenged the people of Turkey to overcome is unparalleled in modern Turkish history and is one that the younger generations, including myself, have only read about.
In the coming weeks and months, the government will continue to seek out those that covertly aided the coup plotters, including those in the judiciary and tax authority who allowed them to amass illegal fortunes. As commerce returns to free-market conditions, leaving businesses to operate free from the threat of blackmail by the Gulenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which had a stranglehold on many government institutions, allowing investments free of ambiguity. Unlike other Middle Eastern countries in which military factions were able to put down peaceful civilian protests, Turkey saw civilians put down an armed coup by power-hungry military officers.
The coming weeks will see the Turkish government continue to argue its case for the extradition of the leader of the coup from the United States. Ankara will also do whatever it can to cut off the funding of those who backed the coup in an attempt to guarantee that Turkish democracy will not be threatened again.
While Turks have experienced enough excitement this summer to last a lifetime, the difficult task of recovery and rooting out those in the shadows has begun.