Some of my academic articles have published here at the following:
New Paradigms in the Turkish Foreign Policy
Top-down French Secularism Targets the Full Veil
The Holocaust: The Site of Memory, Site of Contestation and Collective Consciousness
The Recent Egyptian Movement
The Turkish Labour Movement in Germany
The Hizmet Movement of Canada
Human Right’s Exploitation of Iraqi Children
This is one of examples of my writings between academia and journalistic writings at below…
New paradigms in Turkish foreign policy
Published at Turkish Review, Volume 1 Issue 2, 1 March, 2011.
|01 March 2011, Tuesday / FARUK ARSLAN, TORONTO, CANADATurkey’s continued growth in economic, cultural and foreign policy terms presents us with the possibility of the creation of an effective and durable zero problems with neighbors approach and the promise of worldwide and sustainable mutually beneficial economic developments, potentially altering the culture of capitalism. It offers a new paradigm to the old world as third-world countries seek justice, happiness and equality.
A structure of economic global interconnectedness, the system and culture of capitalism, and technological interdependence have taken over what we used to call society. The principles and assumptions of the ideology of the emerging culture of capitalism – known as neoclassical, neoliberal and libertarian economics, market capitalism, or market liberalism – include privatization, which moves functions and assets from governments to the private sector, improves efficiency and free markets, is unrestrained by the government, and is generally the result of the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources, as the primary responsibility of the government is to provide infrastructure and enforce the rule of law. But in this self-regulation there is no one in charge or to claim sole ownership of wrongdoing or control in the event of cultural, economic or political catastrophes. Neither the developed countries from the West nor the third-world countries from the “rest” are providing a sustainable solution to these problems. What are the elements of the global problems called “catastrophe”? Is it a lack of mutual understanding, poverty and cultural polarization?
In 2008, Richard H. Robbins claimed in his book “Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism” that since the 1990s, multinational corporations have been weakening the nation states artificially created in the 20th century. Robbins reminded his readers that the creation of nation states triggered notions of fascism, nationalism, imperialism and colonialism, which in total caused 170 million deaths and many violations of human rights during the 20th century. However, emerging global economies such as China, India, Turkey and Brazil have invited multinational corporations’ capital into their economies to meet their economic growth goals, thereby altering the cultural, economic, military and political superiority of the US in peripheral countries.Turkey’s continual growth in economic, cultural and foreign policy terms presents us with evidence of the possibility of the creation of effective and durable “zero problems with neighbors,” a promise of worldwide sustainable “mutually beneficial economic developments,” potentially altering the culture of capitalism.Turkey’s zero problems with neighborsPolitical scientist George Friedman claimed in his “The next 100 years: A Forecast for the 21st Century” that “as Turkey’s power grows – and its economy and military are already the most powerful in the region – so will Turkish influence as the sole mediator in the Islamic world that could bring peace to the Middle East”. Is this prediction correct? In fact, Turkey is still very much the creation of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who sought a Western-oriented, secular, modernizing state that would avoid foreign adventures or territorial claims. What Atatürk sought was one united country, centered on the Turkish people and a unitary and highly centralized state. The Turkish Republic banned Islam from public life and changed the previous Arabic alphabet to the Latin one in the 1920s. Until the 1990s Turks behaved like tenants who had troubles with all of their neighbors.
Today, by contrast, Turkey can boast good relations with almost all the countries in the region surrounding it – with the sole exception of Armenia. Turkish Muslims have been democratizing a rigid, nationalist, Jacobin top-down laicist state doctrine, turning it into a British-style, soft, anti-authoritarian, oppression-free and bottom-up secularism, one which offers a clear separation of religion and state. Domestically, Turkey has been formulating solutions to its deadly Kurdish separatism. Ankara has been trying to normalize relations with its own Kurdish population of about 14 million; one of the first steps was to recognize the linguistic and cultural rights of Kurds living in Turkey.
Of course there are those who disagree with this optimistic picture of Turkey’s future. They perceive Turkey’s stance as remaining that of a puppet of the West, and claim that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government sold out the country to multinational corporations. But facts say the opposite. Turkey is already a rising star in the region.
Prof. Ahmet Davutoğlu, foreign minister of Turkey since May 2009 and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief policy advisor since November 2002, wrote a book about foreign policy entitled “Strategic Depth” when he was a university professor. “Strategic Depth” proposed a vision of zero problems with neighbors as well as forging new relationships with them. In this book Davutoğlu reinterpreted Turkey’s mission and interest worldwide as a global mediator and peacemaker. Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere explored the wisdom of Davutoğlu in the Center for Applied Policy Research (CAP) Policy Analysis of 2009 with his article “Turkish Foreign Policy: From ‘Surrounded by Enemies’ to ‘Zero Problems’.” In his article, Güzeldere claimed the geographical, historical and geostrategic position of Turkey provided and demanded a foreign policy that is forward-looking, proactive, innovative and ultimately multifaceted. He stated that the new Turkish foreign policy is for the first time independent of the US and the EU. In fact, the vision of “Strategic Depth” and the zero problems with neighbors policy provide many dialogue platforms and represent a step toward the solution of regional conflicts, serving the economic interests of all participants.
An example in hand is Turkey’s resistance to the universal sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program. Turkey opposed the sanctions and stood up for its economic interests against the US and Israel. The eastern region of Turkey and its population depend on billions of dollars from the informal economy between Iran and Turkey. This trade cannot be compromised. In addition, almost half the Iranian population is of Turkic origin, and Turkey has both an ethnic and ethical responsibility to protect them. Turkey has been buying energy resources from Iran which meet the crucial needs for its economic growth. Haroon Siddiqui analyzed the hot topic on Iran differently, saying that “Turkey shares American, Israeli and Arab fears about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions; but it feels that multilateral economic sanctions would not work, just as the unilateral American sanctions have not in the last 31 years.” Political and economic interests always go hand in hand; their relationships should be mutually beneficial for both sides – a one-sided interest is seen as colonial and imperialistic. Turkey offers a new mutually beneficial economic development model to the world.
Mutually beneficial economic development model
Turkey is a nation of 73 million and has the second-largest army in NATO after the US. Its economy was booming at 6 to 7 percent a year until the global financial crisis in 2008 and was back on track with 8.9 percent growth in 2010. It has the world’s 17th largest economy, the seventh largest within Europe and the largest in the Muslim world in terms of annual GDP: nearly $700 billion vs. Canada’s $1 trillion. The recent economic recession did not have a significant impact on the Turkish formal economy thanks to a well-structured and controlled banking system established in the wake of 2000 and 2001 bank crises (with the help of an International Monetary Fund, IMF, agreement, as is the case for many developing countries), while the government still owns one-third of the public sector, despite privatization efforts since the 1990s. Turkey has rejected IMF proposals and billion-dollar loans offered since 2008 under the Structural Adjustment Program. This decision proves that the Turkish banking system is improving. Zeynep Önder and Süheyla Özyıldırım of Bilkent University studied the role of financial institutions, either state-owned or private banks, in regional growth; its significance, its impact on the financial growth of Turkey as a model for mobility in the national economy, and the reduced economic disparity between regions at the micro-level it generates. Although positive, their study concluded that more public investment is needed.
Turkish exports have increased fivefold since 2002 thanks to the establishment of a new relationship between Turkey and the Muslim world, Arabs in particular, on the economic front. Inexpensive upscale consumer products “Made in Turkey” have conquered Arab, Asian and African markets: from jeans and cookies to television sets and refrigerators, which has helped to remove the image of the “ugly Turk.” Nevertheless, until 2002 Arab news stations hardly reported on Turkey at all; when they did it was only to cast aspersions on Ankara’s relations with Israel. Today, almost daily, Arab stations give their viewers updates on the latest political reforms in Ankara and the economic upswing in İstanbul. As Siddiqui underlined in his article, “Turkey is also reaching out to Africa to grow its $10 billion a year trade with the continent. (All African countries but one voted for Turkish membership in the UN Security Council last year).”
Turkey has attracted billions of dollars worth of foreign investment from every continent and from international multinational corporations in the last decade. This unprecedented wide-scale foreign investment and success came not only through economic policies but also through a successfully implemented foreign policy and mutually beneficial economic development model.
Discovering the Kurdish trauma
Nation states and global hegemonic powers have been globalizing a culture of capitalism and have erased the actual social memories of many nations and ethnic communities. History has become a social construct and many official national histories and nations are imagined communities, designed to ossify the past and block our understanding of historical truth for the sake of societal continuity. Truth is imposed by society; history is a fabrication and a selective reading of past events.
But new communication technologies allow re-discovering of the past. It is remembered with an unprecedented pace and volume. In the Turkish case, Kurds are benefitting from this new paradigm, which offers multiple voices invoking a site of dispute in the public sphere, negating a fake continuity in the official narrative and refuting organic solidarity. Turkey has managed to adapt this new paradigm rebuilding Turkey’s future in a more democratic and stronger way. This paradigm repairs the damage, letting Kurds participate in political, commercial and cultural interaction.
In conclusion, Turkey offers a new paradigm to the old world (Western civilization) which may challenge the new future as third-world countries seek justice, happiness and equality through Turkey’s model of “zero problems with neighbors” and “mutually beneficial economic development”.