This article is sample of my writing in between academia and journalism.

New paradigms in Turkish foreign policy

Published at Turkish Review, Volume 1 Issue 2, 1 March, 2011.

http://www.turkishreview.org/tr/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=223077

01 March 2011, Tuesday / FARUK ARSLAN, TORONTO, CANADA

Turkey’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”.

NOTE: Academic version of this article is at below…

The Turkish Economic Miracle: “Zero Enemy Politics,” “Mutually Beneficial Economic Developments” and “Human-centered Universal Moralities”

By Faruk Arslan

Abstract:

Turkey has had an open horizon since 2002, which claims to have the second biggest rate of economic growth after China, and which yet keeps expanding by foreign trade, innovation made within foreign policy, democratization at home and peace between neighbours. This is a new social imagery, geo-political imagination and paradigm that is emerging along with resurrection far beyond Turkey‘s national borders. Turkey offers a democratic, main-stream, flexible, workable and soluble model which collaborates with economical, cultural and foreign politics—and then assumes Turkish influence as the sole mediator in the Islamic and non-Muslim world by presenting evidence about three themes that will discuss whether the Turkish economic miracle can provide effective and durable ―zero enemy politics‖ and promise sustainable ―mutually beneficial economic developments,‖ whereby the Turkish collective social altruism approach enforces the transmission of sustainable, durable and transferable universal human values to other nations.
Key Words: Zero Enemy, Paradigm, Collective Action, Social Altruism, Human-centred, Universal, Neo-Marxist, Weberian

Introduction

A system of economic global interconnectedness, the system and culture of capitalism and technological interdependence, has taken over what we used to call society. ―There is no one in charge‖ or claim to the sole ownership of wrongdoing or control over self-regulating cultural, economic or political catastrophes (Friedman, 1999). Neither the developed countries from the West nor the third world countries from the ―Rest‖ (Kalın, 2010) are providing a sustainable solution to either of these problems. What are the elements of the global problems called ‗catastrophe?‘ Is it the lack of mutual understanding, poverty and cultural polarization? Richard H. Robbins (2008) mentions in his book ‗Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism‘ that the culture of capitalism and economic perpetual growth has been redeeming the whole society and its values for centuries as 1.2 billion people are estimated to still live on less than one dollar, where near 3 billion are on less than two dollars per day, and 1,500 children die per hour from inadequate food and diseases, whereas world hunger and famine is not caused by overpopulation or insufficient food production (Robbins 2008). Humanity has never been active and dynamic before as it is today, although humans cause hunger, famine, disease, pollution and have messed up current inhabitation and the future of our planet. Since the 1990s, multinational corporations (MNCs) have been weakening the nation-states which were created in the twentieth century artificially and that triggered the notion of fascism, nationalism, imperialism and colonialism as with playing roles in the function of the nation-state in the growth of the culture of capitalism, which caused to be killed 170 million of the human population and violated human rights (Robbins, 2008). However, the recent rising economies of the world such as those of China, India, Turkey and Brazil, and such countries have invited MNCs capitals into their economies to meet their economic growth goals to alter the US dominant cultural, economic, military and political superiority in peripheral countries. I will first explain Turkey‘s continual power growth—and its economy, culture and foreign politics—and then argue of Turkish influence as the sole mediator in the Islamic and non-Muslim world by presenting evidence about three themes that will discuss whether the Turkish economic miracle can provide effective and durable ―zero enemy politics,‖ promise sustainable ―mutually beneficial economic developments,‖ and whether the Turkish-originated ―Hizmet (Gülen) Movement‖ can promote transferable ―human centred universal moralities‖ through a non-political, non-violent and civil, international collective action.

Turkey‟s Zero Enemy Politics

As agreed with an American Stratfor CEO, the political scientist George Friedman (2009) claimed in his book named ―21. Century Belongs to Turkey, USA, Poland, Japan and Mexico‖ 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‖ (Friedman, 2009 ). Is this prediction true, or is utopia or serving the global capitalists‘ endeavours? In fact, Turkey is still very much the production of Kemal Ataturk who sought a Western-oriented, secular, modernizing state which avoided foreign adventures or territorial claims, whereas within the 1920s what Ataturk sought was one united country centred on Turkish people-hood, a unitary and highly centralized state (Rubin, 2008). The Turkish republic banned Islam from public life and changed the previous Arabic alphabet to the Latin alphabet since the 1920s. Up until the 1990s, the Turks had behaved like renters who had troubles with all of their neighbours. Today, by contrast, Turkey can boast good relations between almost all of the countries in the region surrounding it—with the sole exception of Armenia (Hermann, 2006). Turkish Muslims have been democratizing a rigid, nationalist, Jacobean top-down laicise state doctrine inside out among their country‘s mentality, for example, in their fight for a greater freedom of speech while promoting the British style, which is a soft, anti-authoritarian, oppressive- free, and bottom-up secularism which offers a clear religion and state separation. Harun Siddique , a Toronto Star columnist, mentioned that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has acknowledged that Turkey, during its ―fascist‖ past, did ―ethnically cleanse its minorities,‖ and that his own ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) got ―trapped in this wrong approach‖ (Siddique, 2010) and Siddique continued in his article that Turkey has been within the normalization of relations with its own Kurdish minority of about 14 million, having begun the process of recognizing the linguistic and cultural rights of Turkish Kurds (Siddique, 2010).
Turkish counter mobilizations and their outsider allies disagree with and assume Turkey‘s stance as still a puppet of the West, as the AKP sold the country out to the MNCs and the global power of the US. Furthermore, Nergis Canefe (2002) claimed that the history of modern, patriotic Turkish nationalism is still contested, and Canefe offered a debate based on a critic evaluation of the myths and symbols of Turkish identity within the larger context and the time frame of the Ottoman Turkish history, which was the ethnic model of nation building explained through territorialisation and institutionalization processes, and Canefe alarmed a notion of amnesia, finding myths beyond the realm of state control (Canefe, 1998). Ernest Gellner drew the connection between nation building, education, and economic integration (Robbins, 2008) in the 20th century, which was related and similar to the Turkish nation-state formation. Nation states were constructed because there were political and economical problems, and the lack of integration among institutions and elite groups, whereas the Turkish nation-state was formed to maintain social order and allow social growth and development through mandatory education (Rahbari, 2010). This paradigm has shifted from the incomplete old structural nationalistic, insufficient model to a new democratic and modern paradigm.
As matter of fact, Ahmet Davutoglu, who has been the foreign minister of Turkey since May 2009 and AKP‘s policy advisor since November 2002, wrote a book about foreign policy entitled ―Strategic Depth‖ when he was a university professor, which proposed a vision of zero enemy politics and new relationships with Turkey‘s neighbours, as he admitted to the Ottoman past and reinterpreted Turkey‘s mission and interest worldwide as a global mediator and peace maker. Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere (2009) explored the wisdom of Davudoglu as Turkey‘s geographical, historical and geostrategic positions provided and demanded a foreign policy that is forward- looking, proactive, innovative and ultimately multifaceted, and which is for the first time independent from the US and the European Union (Güzeldere, 2009). ‗The Strategic Depth‘ and Zero Enemy politics provide many dialogue platforms and step toward the solution of conflicts and serve the economic interest of all participants. For example, Turkey opposed the sanction against Iran and stood up against the US and Israel for its economic interests. The eastern region of the Turkish economy and its population depends on billions of dollars from the informal economy between Iran and Turkey which it cannot compromise to lose. In addition, almost half of the Iranian population is of Turkish origin and must be protected, and Turkey has been buying energy resources from Iran which meet the crucial needs for its economic growth.
Siddique analyzed the hot topic on Iran differently, saying that ―Turkey shares American, Israeli and Arab fears about Tehran‘s nuclear ambitions; however, it feels that multilateral economic sanctions would not work, just as the unilateral American sanctions have not in the last 31 years‖ (Siddique, 2010). Political and economic interests always go hand in hand whereby their relationships should be mutually beneficial for both sides, otherwise a one-sided interest is seen as colonial and imperialistic. As a matter of fact, before the appearance of a Western ideology called nationalism at the end of the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire was multi-religious and multinational. One of the most successful examples of religious tolerance and coexistence in history was the Ottoman administration. Ottomans did not compel anyone by force, nor make them assimilate (Kitsikis, 2009). Using this vision, Turkey now offers a new mutually beneficial economic development model with an efficient and unavoidable system without mentioning the period of the Ottomans.

The Mutually Beneficial Economic Development Model

Turkey is a nation of 73 million and has the second largest army in NATO after the U.S. Its economy was booming at 6-7 per cent a year until the global financial crisis in 2008 and is back on track with a 3.5 per cent growth in 2010. It has the world’s seventeenth largest economy, the seventh largest within Europe and the largest in the Muslim world as in annual GDP: nearly $700 billion vs. Canada’s $1 trillion (Siddique, 2010). The recent economic recession didn‘t significantly hit the Turkish formal economy because a well structured and controlled Turkish state owned the banking system that has been well-established since the 2000 and 2001 bank crises with the help of the IMF agreement as similar to many developing countries, while the government still owns one in third of the public sector, despite privatisation efforts since the 1990s. Turkey has rejected the IMF‘s proposal and billion dollar loans since 2008 that were offered by the Structural Adjustment Program‘s implications. This decision proves that the Turkish bank system is improving. The financial systems imposed by NAFTA, the WTO, WB and IMF are supposed to decrease inequality and exploitation, although they were even more diminished because these institutions established to serve Americanization in advance. Within the recent 2008 Economic Recession, a new liberal globalization was again restructured over the accumulation problem, and ―a new landscape to accommodate both endless accumulation and political power‖ continues to be an important phase and transaction between capitalists and wage labour (Harvey, 2005). The IMF has always been favouring the interest of creditors and rich elites rather than workers, peasants and other poor people (Friedman, 1999). In addition, the IMF and Turkish relationship has always been controversial. Zeynep Önder and Suheyla Özyıldırım (2010) had studied how the role of financial institutions, either stated-owned or private banks, in the regional growth played significantly, impacted the financial growth of Turkey as the perfect form of mobility for the national economy, and reduced economic disparity between regions at the micro level, yet more public investments are needed (Önder, Özyıldırım, 2010).
Turkish exportation has been increased fivefold since 2002 because of the establishment of a new relationship between Turkey and the Muslim world, especially with the Arabs that were involved in its economic front. Inexpensive upscale consumer products “Made in Turkey” have conquered Arab, Asian and African markets: from jeans and cookies to televisions sets and refrigerators, which has helped to remove the image of the “ugly Turk.” Nevertheless, up until 2002, Arab news stations hardly reported at all on Turkey, and when they did so, it was only to cast aspersions on Ankara’s relations with Israel. Almost daily, Arab stations give their viewers updates on the latest political reforms in Ankara and the economic upswing in Istanbul (Hermann, 2006). Siddique clarified the current conditions saying that ―Turkey has reached out to Africa to grow its $10 billion year trade with the continent. All African countries had one vote for Turkish membership in the UN Security Council in 2009‖ (Siddique, 2010).
Turkey has attracted billions of dollars worth of foreign investments from Arab, Asian, African and European countries, American and Chinese government companies, and also from such countries‘ MNCs, although this wide-scale international trade has never before been seen as it was the result of successfully implemented foreign policy and the mutually beneficial economic development model. Some of the principles and assumptions of 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 for the infrastructure and enforce the rules of law (Rahbari, 2010). Despite all of this what about human rights moralities, universal values and the enforcement of human rights? These are important to complete a new paradigm of the Turkish miracle, if it can exist.
Discovering the Kurdish trauma

Turkey offers a new paradigm to the old world (the Western civilization) which may challenge the new future because the Third World Countries will seek justice, happiness and equality through Turkey‘s miracle model of ―zero enemy politics‖ and ―mutually beneficial economic developments‖. Nation-states and global hegemonic power under the culture of capitalism influence and globalize, and have erased the official histories of many nations and ethics communities in which concerns the memory of the past in their project for progress through enlightenment, rationalization and market freedom, and so forth. New media technologies allow discovering the past which is remembered in unprecedented pace and volume, for instance Kurdish rights, and at the same time trivialized/forgotten. This is a new paradigm that history is not as linear as progress, moving in the direction of liberation from the past, present, and future, and many historians have no longer seen history as a chronology with only the aggregation of facts, dates or individual history, in which the psychological life cycle of individuals is created by a small, elite group. History is a social construction and many official national histories and nations are imagined communities and structured to ossify the past and block our understanding of historical truth for the sake of the continuity of society. Truth is imposed by society; history is a fabrication and selection in the form of memory. Society creates a total fiction of history. History is malleable, changeable or only certain facts can change. This new paradigm offers multiple voices that invoke a site of dispute in public space, disable a fake continuity, official narrative and organic solidarity. The contestation of the official state and its invented history has become a failure, as the ordinary citizen has invented new morality, universal values, and utilitarian approaches which turn individual trauma to collective trauma such as Kurdish trauma. Trauma is functional to the society to build the collective consciousness and show how citizens are valued members. New paradigm rebuilds and unifies the Turkey‘s future stronger in a democratic way and repairs the damages, while discussion may lead to both parties being able to live together and to resume political, commercial, and cultural interaction.
In conclusion, the Western civilization, for losing its monopoly, is now on the decline in the near future of the world, although its monopoly has been maintained since the 17th century through financial capitalism. Since communism had collapsed beyond the shadow of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, socialism has become a dead ideology, left out in Marxist‘s idea of a so-called ―Utopian,‖ whereas Weberian modernity can no longer deliver what it had promised during its beginning: the freedom of individuals, a rational society and steady scientific progress towards an infinite horizon (Kalın, 2010). It is clear that ―Globalization is Americanization‖ as a hegemonic power (Friedman, 1999), which caused inequality, poverty and injustice all over the world, while the global economy and globalization dangerously depend on a ―US based recovery of consumerism‖ as the hegemonic power claimed that the world‘s economic crisis and recession will be solved only within the Americanization context (Harvey, 2005). Marxist‘s thesis concerns ―the crisis tendencies of capitalism‖ which emerges from under consumption, whereas the general sufficient effective demand now hits every one of our daily lives (Luxemburg, 1968). Capitalism and democracy, free markets and free people, do not go hand in hand; in contrast, America‘s ―free market‖ policies have come to dominate the world through the exploitation of disaster, shocking people and countries through there stages: swift regime change, changes to the economy and the repression of opponents (Klein, 2007). The ―capitalistic theory of class struggle, democracy, and the Communism Manifesto‖ has become irrelevant because of over accumulation (Marx, Engels, 1986). In this case, globalization, capitalism and neo-liberalism are restructuring the world economy through a financialization that cannot be an escape route either. Despite this, Turkey offers a new paradigm to the old world (the Western civilization) which may challenge the new future because the Third World Countries will seek justice, happiness and equality through Turkey‘s miracle model of ―zero enemy politics,‖ ―mutually beneficial economic developments‖ and ―human centred universal moralities‖ offered by the Turkish originated ―Hizmet Movement.‖ Neo-liberal and MNCs policies and globalism are still questionable because the culture of American consumerism has already been invading Turkey for over three decades. The consumption culture of capitalism leads to the increase of both the economic growth and destruction within the Turkish miracle, but the new Turkish model offers social altruism to alter any capitalist approach into becoming an escape route.
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