Against the backdrop of the Middle East’s ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s once-vaunted “zero problems” foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara’s continued Western moorings. The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish […]

In retrospect, the gradual crumbling last year of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel was a harbinger of some of the changes that would subsequently come to the rest of the region. For decades, Turkey was one of the few Muslim nations that had good relations with the Jewish state. Ankara maintained strong diplomatic, military and economic ties with Israel. But then democracy started gaining ground in Turkey, and when an Islamic party came to power, the relationship started to deteriorate. Now, with politicians in both countries having scored points over the rift, calculations on both sides point to the […]

The Libya intervention has capped a difficult decade for airpower. While the combination of airstrikes and special forces units on the ground quickly overthrew the Taliban regime in 2001, the utility of airpower in counterinsurgency was called into question over the course of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was hoped that the intervention in Libya would restore airpower’s luster by quickly defeating a tyrant bent on destroying his political enemies. But the campaign launched by the West’s most powerful air forces has thus far failed to dislodge Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, or even to force him to […]

Despite all the favorable rhetoric regarding the responsibility to protect, governments continue to hesitate to embrace wholeheartedly the doctrine whereby, in the event a state is unable or unwilling to prevent its citizens from dying in large numbers, other states must be prepared to intervene. Governments from around the world endorsed this concept in the abstract at the September 2005 World Summit, but have been reluctant to apply it in reality. Indeed, Paragraph 139 of the World Summit Outcome document hedges, noting that application of the principle will be undertaken “on a case-by-case basis.” Some experts, however, have argued that […]

Any hopes that volatile global oil markets would settle has been dispelled by events over the past two weeks: With OPEC unable to agree on a price target at its latest meeting, the International Energy Agency (IEA) decided to release 60 million barrels of strategic reserves. As a result, markets have little idea how to set prices. A 7 percent price drop following the IEA’s actions suggests that the market is trending downward. But while lower prices will be welcome news to consuming countries, the IEA is playing a dangerous game in seeking to influence short-term sentiment by putting more […]

The debate over humanitarian intervention has a way of calling forth unconditional answers to a question that ought to elicit subtle reflection: What responsibilities do citizens of some or all states have to those of another state who are suffering grave harm? Realists argue that, however tragic, such situations seldom if ever touch on the fundamental interests of other powers, and thus no response is justified. Anti-imperialists maintain that most of the outside powers that have the ability to intervene cannot do so justly or disinterestedly, for reasons of history and current political economy. Purists claim that interventions are not […]

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (.pdf) resulted in prompt international action that delivered Libyans from the murderous violence Moammar Gadhafi had already inflicted on civilians early in March, as well as from violence he continued to threaten against what he called, in an eerie echo of Rwanda’s murderous regime in 1994, the “cockroaches” who opposed him. Earlier, the council’s Resolution 1970 (.pdf) had unanimously approved an arms embargo, asset freeze, travel ban and reference to the International Criminal Court. In addition, the U.N. Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned Libya, which led to the General Assembly’s unprecedented decision to suspend Libyan […]

When do humanitarian crises resulting from internal conflicts merit international military intervention? Despite the formal international consensus endorsing an international “responsibility to protect,” there is very little agreement on when armed intervention in another state’s internal conflicts is justified and appropriate. Even among Western nations, where support for this concept is strongest, there is no general agreement as to what ought to trigger international intervention. The ongoing U.S. and NATO military intervention against the Libyan government has become the first test case for the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine since U.N. member states approved it in 2005. However, the manner […]

Recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans and Europeans don’t want NATO to widen its war against embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. So long as the West’s low-and-slow approach to regime change continues to weaken the dictator, there is good reason to stick with President Barack Obama’s strategy of limited intervention. Yet as international cameras focus in on Libya, a prospective tipping point for the future of the Middle East becomes all the more visible in Syria, despite that country’s ban on international journalists. And although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken an admirably tough line regarding the […]

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I just wanted to add a couple of final thoughts to my post last week on the Libya . . . war. I initially agreed with the Obama administration’s sense that the U.S. participation did not rise to the constitutional threshold of war powers. But just about every online writer whose opinion I respect considers that assessment to be not only unconvincing but ridiculous on its face. That, combined with the fact that we now know the administration arrived at it by cherrypicking its own internal legal advice, makes me realize that I, like the Obama administration, was taking an […]

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has represented the face of Iran for the West for more than half a decade, is on his way out of power in Tehran. Whether or not the ayatollahs formally push him out of office is yet to be seen. But for practical purposes, the Ahmadinejad era of the Islamic Republic’s history is coming to an end. Two years ago, during the height of the pro-democracy protests that followed Iran’s presidential elections, most of the country’s most powerful clerics stood steadfastly behind Ahmadinejad. As millions of Iranians took to the streets accusing Ahmadinejad and his […]

Sen. John McCain is worried about the direction of U.S. foreign policy, especially within his own party. Some Republican presidential contenders have questioned the nation-building mission in Afghanistan. Others point out that the undeclared war in Libya is neither necessary nor constitutional. “This is isolationism,” an aghast McCain declared on the ABC News program “This Week.” Isolationism? The term “isolationist” is little more than a slur. It essentially means someone who thinks the U.S. should engage in fewer foreign wars than the speaker does. The term emerged in the late-19th century, when it was made popular by the ardent militarist […]

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As tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey in recent days, and thousands more have set up camp along the border, questions are mounting over how Turkey and the greater international community should respond. Debate is particularly fervent within the Turkish media, where some reports indicate that Ankara has begun to entertain the possibility of deploying its own military to create a “buffer zone” for refugees within Syrian territory, on the southern side of the Syria-Turkey border. The report was met with skepticism from Henri Barkey, a visiting scholar in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie […]

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