Some more about Turkey

Previous, related posts:
Turkey and the EU

(This blog is old; even the 2008 post feels like yesteryear!)

Two additions to what I wrote about Turkey so far:

First, I edited this to the oldest of the three blog posts:
edit 2013-05: I should add that the Pan-Turkic ideology (a nationalist party got about 1/8 of the votes in the 2011 elections) could put Turkey into a rival position to Russia in regard to influence in Central Asia (Turkic languages there). The West's encroachment has been stopped in Belarus (as long as the dictatorship doesn't crumble) and Ukraine (where any national election can change the trajectory entirely). Russia would not exactly be happy to face a Turkish challenge on its southern flank.
 The mentioned Turkish nationalist party is this one.

The news people in Germany have decided to largely ignore Belarus, Ukraine, Transnistria or the Pan-Turkic nationalism. The occasional report about the dicatorship in Belarus or the domestic political struggles in Ukraine is always boring and it's much more likely for a German to learn that anything ridiculous happened in the U.S. or Australia than to learn anything about major developments in the Russian periphery. Balloon boy et al. The rare reports from the Ukraine are typically carried by the news people's ability to use a photo of the good looking blonde politician in their article.

As I see it, Russia has lots of long-term challenges and challengers in its periphery, and they will no doubt not give way easily, as they are very much interested in strategic depth.

Second, the Alawites story.

(c) NordNordWest and Supreme Deliciousness
(To mention the author is a copyright requirement,
but some authors of pics at wikipedia have outright ridiculous names.)
The Alawites are about to lose power in Syria, being a small minority and apparently unable to defeat the majority Sunni rebellion. Turkey's turn against the Assad regime - with which it previously had a 'good neighbour' foreign policy strategy - is also a turn against one of the minorities in Turkey. 
A move against a minority is often a turn towards more authoritarian/assertive and less cooperative grand strategy and political culture.
This could become a small piece of a decades-long shift towards a Sunni- and Turkic language-oriented policy and construction of a bloc in the Middle East and Central Asia. The plan to join the EU bloc is on ice, after all - and continued NATO membership doesn't really restrict the political freedom of action since (almost) nobody seems to pay attention to Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty anyway. Basically, they can conduct their foreign policy with whatever ambitions they like and still stay under NATO's protective umbrella.



  1. I wonder if it bothers Turkey that Israel can go into Syrian airspace and hit target as they will. Turkey wants to be the leader of the Arab world, but I think it is finding that is harder said then done. All the money spent on weapons in the Arab world and they can not impose a no fly zone over Syria. I read all the time about how the world doesn't want the US to be the policeman and yet who is to replace us

    1. There is obviously no need for a replacement policeman, for we never had one. We had a couple big school yard bullies for a couple hundred years, but there was never a policeman.
      A policeman enforces the law even if it's not in his interest.

      Interestingly, some school yard bullies were really good at PR, though.

  2. So if the US went home then the world would be a much better place? I never said the US didn't have it's interest I will admit that many times we make mistakes. But wonder had the USSR won teh cold war do you think their interest would have been better.

    1. To resist the Warsaw Pact as part of NATO was not the same as a 'world policeman' role. Many countries resisted the WP, including some third bloc and even some red countries.

      A policeman enforces laws, doesn't make them himself and isn't allowed to violate them himself.

      The U.S. is in the UNSC very much in the judge and state attorney comittee position, it enforced UN resolutions and other rules only if it was in its own interests and it violated the Charter of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty several times. In fact, it's one of the most notorious offenders world-wide.

      The "USA as world policeman" thing is an arrogant delusion.

  3. So had the USSR won the cold war the world would be the same. If the US brought home all our overseas forces the world would be the same. I am in no way saying the US does everything right. Far from it we make many mistakes. But you are right we have interest in the world all nations do. You talk like the USSR wining the cold war would have only meant something bad for Europe. Looking at the two types of government which do you think the world would be better off with?

    1. I don't get why you are so fixated on the SU.
      Waging the Cold War has no similarity with a global policeman role whatsoever.

      The Cold War was about containing Soviet influence, while claims that the U.S. acts as global policeman are about suppressing aggressions, deploying blue helmets and the like.
      The USA does not act as a policeman, but selfish just as most other countries. It happens to intervene one the right side of history at times, but that's coincidental and much more correlated with its perceived interests (= politicians' desire to play games).

    2. I have tried to think of a way to say what I am trying to say. I think maybe the future will say it for me. If China rises like people seem to think and becomes the next super power we will see what it does with it's power.

  4. It very much remains to be seen, what happens post-Erdogan. Too many people these days seem to confuse his ambitions in politics (not just those of his party, but specifically Erdogans ambitions) with a general attitude in Turkey. Yes, there are certain currents there.

    The Syria-issue on the other hand also shows that opinion in Turkey is very much divided on the issue (not picked up too much, though Spiegel - remarkably - recently was an exception). Erdogans populist pan-muslim panderings against Israel also didnt have much of an echo in Turkey, except of course in certain quarters. This very much seems to reflect the cravings of one man at the moment. The general population (again, certain quarters excluded) seems to be more interested in economic development along Western lines, something that Turkey is doing quite well over the past decade or so.

    "The Alawites are about to lose power in Syria, being a small minority and apparently unable to defeat the majority Sunni rebellion"

    Well, I would not want to bet on anything there, but they are "about to lose power" for two years now. The Alawites are a minority, but neither is this a Sunni-majority-uprising as such (in which case this case would have been settled a fair while ago) nor are the Alawites alone. There are other Shia, Christians, and ironically a fair number of Sunni, primarily merchants, who do support the regime, as the alternative means complete chaos (see the coherence of the rebellion, which is of course non-existing).

  5. Cui bono?
    Isn't there a giant geostrategic US plan for regime change going on for over a decade(and this is a minor part)?
    Will we be better off in a multipolar future with more great powers and no overwhelming superpower?

    The German news establishment output is interesting. Why is there more interest in making fun of some crazy Americans than serious thought about bloody issues next door? Lower entertainment value, more fact checking required?