When I am challenged by any kind of developments that I find difficult to understand, unlike some other people, I start to question my own way of approach. “Could it be the case that I am wrong and others whom I think to be wrong are, in fact, right?” is the first question I ask myself in such a situation.
Nowadays, this question above often arises in my mind.
Including some aspects of the re-run of the election in Istanbul arranged for June 23, there are a great deal of matters concerning domestic politics that I find incomprehensible. I notice a series of mistakes that I would never make if I were in the position of the decision makers.
Quite understandably, I cannot help but immediately start to ask the question I mentioned above when I face such confusing events: “May it be that I am the one wrong here?“
We lost an empire
A development which I find particularly incomprehensible nowadays takes place in the sphere of foreign policy. I intend to share my views on this topic today.
Turkey has been exposed to external threats throughout its history, and key decision makers in governments keep this fact in mind when they make ‘threat assessments‘. Of course, ‘threat perception‘ of a nation which lost an empire in the midst of feelings of helplessness would be different. This also played a role in the neutral position of Turkey in the Second World War while almost all European nations engaged in fierce battles against one another in two hostile camps, as a wise decision of the then rulers of the new Republic who were fully aware of the devastating consequences of the World War One. If Turkey had not faced a ‘threat‘ from its northern neighbor having its eyes on several Turkish provinces, it could have maintained its neutral position within the ‘new world order‘ that took shape after the Second World War.
We would have been neutral as Switzerland and Austria…
When our neighbor Russia, one of the victors of the war, brought the status of the Straits into the diplomatic agenda and demanded a piece from our territories, the provinces of Kars and Ardahan, Turkey nevertheless first aligned itself with the Western Block, then joined the NATO alliance.
It is understandable that Turkey, as a member of the NATO, expects support from its allies when it faces threats. The famous Article 5 of the founding document of the NATO imposes this as an obligation on the member countries. In other words, it is an obligation for all members to come to a member state’s aid in case of a threat…
A missile defense system is effective against threats. In a few instances where Turkey announced that it faced threats recent years, some of our allies in the NATO sent their missile defense systems to our country.
The view of “We must have a system belonging to us permanently deployed in our soil” appears to be agreeable as this is a matter of national defense although it is open to discussion economically as such systems are very expensive.
It is difficult to understand, however, why a NATO member would knock on the door of Russia in order to purchase a missile system to protect itself.
Turkey is a country of which weaponry and equipment as well as military aircrafts and helicopters are all in NATO standards. In other words, we have weapons and aircrafts that are identified as ‘enemy‘ by the Russian missile defense systems. Having spent billions of dollars, we have participated in the F-35 fighter jets program, but does not the Russian S-400 defense system identity F-35 fighter jets as ‘enemy‘ as well?
We want to purchase S-400s, but we also want to have F-35 fighter jets which are programmed by S-400s to shoot down.
This is strange, isn’t it?
Or, do you think something is wrong with my own approach?
A few more questions
Russia and the USA are leading countries of the two rival camps although the division and tensions are not as sharp as they were in times of the ‘Cold War‘. Our country is an ally of the USA in the NATO, and a partner in the production program of F-35 fighter jets as a NATO member. Isn’t it inevitable for the USA to react us by saying, “Give up purchasing F-35 jets, then” when we announce, “We will purchase the S-400 system from Russia.“? Even, would it be surprising at all if the USA says as the second step in the process, “Leave the NATO too”, then?
It seems to me that answers to these two questions are “Yes, it is inevitable” and “No, it would not be surprising” respectively…
In another troublesome period in the USA-Turkey relations in early-1960s due to the disputes over Cyprus, İsmet İnönü, the then Turkish prime minister, had responded to the US president in a defiant manner: “If the world falls apart, Turkey will find itself a place in the new world.” I wonder if there are preparations nowadays to take a similar defiant stand against the USA.
But, are there some similarities between circumstances of these two different periods?
If such a defiant stand is intended to be taken, shouldn’t it be shared with the public?
Or, perhaps, some politicians within the decision-making mechanism and several top bureaucrats and advisers with the task of providing with a framework for the ultimate decision may have offered this point of view to the decision-makers: “The USA and Russia may apparently seem in a stiff competition while viewed from outside, but, as a matter of fact, there is some sort of transitivity between these two countries after Donald Trumps’ ascendancy to presidency. Trump was elected thanks to Putin’s help; some politicians or administrative bodies in the USA may oppose preferences of Turkey, but Trump would back our position.“
Do you think this is a reasonable view? I myself don’t…
I have already presented you some details of a foreign policy matter here.
I often ask myself this question in recent days: “May it be the case that my way of approach is wrong?”
I really do not know, perhaps I am the one who is wrong.
[Translated by Bernar Kutluğ from the the article appeared in this site’s Turkish section on June 13, 2019]