Dani Rodrik: Did Microsoft steal its fonts from the Turkish army? The Turkish court that sentenced more than 300 officers on coup plotting charges in September apparently thinks so: The Turkish military has long set the ground rules for Turkish politics, and this was hailed as a landmark trial. Many saw it as the centerpiece of a democratic, mildly Islamist government’s long overdue reckoning with the army’s misdeeds. If the charges in the case are to be believed, misdeeds there were aplenty. Prosecutors had in hand CDs, apparently from 2003 that contained detailed military plans to destabilize the country and dislodge the newly-elected AKP government from power. According to the documents in the CDs, General Cetin Dogan, then commander of the Istanbul-based 1st Army commander, and his collaborators had prepared horrific operations, including the downing of a Turkish military, the bombing of two mosques, and the targeting of Armenian intellectuals, in order to lay the groundwork for the coup. They had drawn up lists of journalists and politicians to be arrested, selected a new cabinet, and even prepared an economic program for the new government. The trial was marred by irregularities from the very beginning. The CDs were never properly authenticated beyond the date and author information in the metadata. A report that found the documents could not be traced to military computers vanished. Exonerating evidence uncovered by the prosecutors was placed under seal and hid from the defense. The presiding judge, who had ruled previously in favor of some of the defendants’ requests, was replaced two days before the trial opened. The pleas of defendants who proved they were out of the country on the dates they supposedly authored the documents met no response. A growing list of anachronisms and other inconsistencies in the documents was passed over. Meanwhile pro-government and Gulenist media had a field day, spreading rampant disinformation about the case and the defendants. But the real shocker came when the court finally provided digital copies of the incriminating CDs to the defense, nearly two years after they had been delivered to the prosecutors. American, German, and Turkish forensic experts hired by the defense were able to establish conclusively that the CDs had been forged. And here is where Microsoft enters the picture. The centerpiece of the prosecution’s case is a MS Word document, titled “Operation Sledgehammer.” This document, which gives the case its name, describes the rationale for the military takeover and the broad contours of the plan. It carries the date December 2002 and is has General Dogan’s name underneath. On the face of it, there is nothing in the digital file that would contradict this information. The metadata shows a last-saved date of December 2002 and the putative author to be General Dogan’s chief of staff. (Dogan retired from the army in late 2003.) The CD on which it is found was apparently burned in a single session on March 2003. The document is written using the Arial font and was saved in MS Word 1997, both of which were widely in use in 2003. Yet when forensic experts looked more closely at the document with a Hex editor, which shows all the binary information on the file, they made a discovery that revealed that the metadata had been tampered with. In plain sight on the raw file was a reference to “Calibri,” a font that Microsoft introduced with Office 2007 as the new default font for Word, and was first released to the public in mid-2006. The only explanation for this anachronistic reference was that the file had been worked on with Office 2007 before it was ultimately saved in an earlier version of Word. It was clear that “Operation Sledgehammer” could not have been produced and burned onto a CD in 2003.
IMF: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 100 Years of Dealing with Public Debt Overhangs: Throughout the past century, numerous advanced economies have faced public debt burdens as high, or higher, than those prevailing today. They responded with a wide variety of policy approaches. We analyze these experiences to draw lessons for today and reach three main conclusions. First, successful debt reduc- tion requires fiscal consolidation and a policy mix
that supports growth. Key elements of this policy mix are measures that address structural weaknesses in the economy and supportive monetary policy. Second, fiscal consolidation must emphasize persistent, structural reforms to public finances over temporary or short-lived fiscal measures. In this respect, fiscal institutions can help lock in any gains. Third, reducing public debt takes time, especially in the context of a weak external environment.
Nob Akimoto: This isn’t to say that liberal imperialism is dead. The movement has suffered losses but there remain prominent voices in the wind. The most persistent and infuriating examples are Paul Berman and Walter Russell Mead. Ordinarily I try to avoid their writing, but Elias had goaded me into reading some of Mead’s recent blog posts. Like a moth to the flame, I’m attracted to critiquing professors with terrible arguments. And thus dear reader you’re stuck with another take-down of a faculty person. The end of the Cold War should have been the end of history. Western liberalism had prevailed over Soviet Communism. Many in liberal circles had hoped there would be a new liberal world order, stronger than the Post-WWII consensus. Representative democracy and welfare capitalism would spread to the rest of the world and create a grand new era of peace and prosperity. Reality soon intervened.