Dani Rodrik and the Sledgehammer coup plot

There is a lengthy and interesting Chronicle profile by Marc Parry.  It tells the tale of how Rodrik vindicated his father-in-law, a famous general, from false charges of having led a potential coup d’etat against the Turkish government.  Here is one excerpt:

When Rodrik and his wife spoke with Cetin Dogan, though, the general told them he’d never heard of Sledgehammer. They believed him. But that only deepened the mystery. Were the coup plans genuine? Had Dogan’s name somehow been added to them? Rodrik and Pinar Dogan began to investigate the coup documents, which eventually became the centerpiece of a landmark court case that targeted hundreds of military officers. Many called it Turkey’s “trial of the century.” The two economists called it a fraud.

As a social scientist, Rodrik had always believed in the power of evidence to change people’s minds. His Sledgehammer investigation revealed the coup plans to be forgeries. The evidence was clearer than anything he had ever encountered in economics. But it didn’t matter. People clung to the story regardless.

Rodrik has written his own essay on the Sledgehammer episode (pdf). Basically he and his wife ended up playing detective for several years of their lives, and eventually Rodrik’s father-in-law was freed from prison.  Here is a bit toward the end of the piece:

“It’s very easy to read these stories, and they resonate with your own worldview as a liberal,” Rodrik says. “And you’re likely to believe it. I wouldn’t say that it turned me into a conservative. But it made me much more skeptical and much more cautious about what one might say is the standard Northeastern-Ivy League-elite-liberal-establishment narrative about how the world works.”

My recent conversation with Dani Rodrik has both transcript and video.


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