Saturday, May 07, 2011

talking turkey

issandr el amrani writes what i was thinking when i read anthony shadid's article in the NYT a few days ago. the new common wisdom that turkey has lost its groove in the face of the arab spring seems to assume that unless a country gets every decision exactly right, it is not getting anything right.

my view is that every state is constantly making numerous decisions in its diplomatic dealings and is never getting everything 100% right or wrong. instead, countries are always getting some stuff right, some stuff wrong, and a whole bunch of stuff that isn't clearly one or the other. the country is doing well if the stuff it does right outweighs the stuff it does wrong wrong, and the unclear stuff isn't so huge and unclear as to muddle up all of its points in the "stuff right" column.

in turkey's case, not supporting the libyan rebels right off the bat is being presented as a gaffe. but in my view, that decision is solidly in the "stuff that isn't clear one way or other" pile. it's the same with turkey's reluctance to criticize the assad regime in syria. the struggle over the future of libya and syria aren't over yet. how successfully states states manage to navigate those crises depends upon what happens when those crises ends. it just seems really premature to rule turkish policy a failure on those issues at this point. you might disagree with the country's decisions, but it's too early to say whether the decisions it made will serve turkish interests in the end.