The Problem Lies in the Lack of Policy Philosophies

In a recent post, Nilgun Cerrahoglu in Cumhuriyet highlighted President Erdoğan's invitation to the G-7 summit in Italy. This event, which underscores Ankara's ongoing alliance with the Western bloc since 1952, can significantly impact Moscow's aspirations. However, as geopolitical dynamics unfold, a deeper issue emerges: the absence of robust policy philosophies in Turkish politics.

International relations, as observed over decades, often operate without a clear guiding philosophy, making alliances and enmities transient and transactional. This phenomenon was echoed by a Tabriz diplomat in 1979, who described international relations as a sphere devoid of paternal or maternal guidance. The lack of a foundational philosophy in Turkey's policies, particularly during and after the Cold War, highlights a critical vulnerability.

The Italian government should not expect substantial shifts in Erdoğan's foreign policy post-G-7. His administration's stance on various international platforms, including BRICS, often seems more about momentary propaganda than substantive policy shifts. This reflects a broader issue within Turkish governance—an emphasis on short-term gains over long-term philosophical coherence.

Turkey's economic challenges and domestic policy issues have become more pressing under the 21.5-year Erdoğan government. The recent threats by Devlet Bahçeli to support a coalition between the AKP and CHP highlight internal political friction. This friction is less about clashing political philosophies and more about the absence of any guiding philosophy in Turkish politics. The political maneuvers by leaders like Meral Akşener also underscore this void, often resulting in strategic missteps rather than visionary leadership.

The Cold War era's dichotomous capitalist-socialist confrontation left little room for Turkey to develop its own political philosophies. Instead, it operated under the close scrutiny of Washington, with no real expectation or space for homegrown political thought. This lack of philosophical development was masked by Turkey's transition to a multi-party system in 1950, which, despite military coups, sustained the nation's political framework.

Turgut Özal's leadership in the 1980s aimed at privatization and reducing state involvement in investments mirrored the neoliberal policies of leaders like Margaret Thatcher. However, Özal's inability to cultivate a new political philosophy contributed to the eventual decline of the Ana Vatan Party. Similarly, the unfulfilled promises of Süleyman Demirel and the collapse of center-right politics by the late 1990s exemplify the consequences of lacking a coherent political philosophy.

The rise of political Islam under Erdoğan in 2002, after decades of secular parties relying on the military, seemed like a paradigm shift. Yet, the AKP's failure to innovate within its political philosophy has led to diminishing excitement among its base. Erdoğan's focus on consolidating power rather than fostering a vibrant political ideology has resulted in a stagnation that is increasingly evident.

Turkish nationalism, under the banner of the Nationalist Movement Party since 1969, has also failed to develop a sustainable political philosophy. Instead of constructive policy-making, it often resorts to internal purges and aggressive posturing, which could lead to significant societal issues.

The secular defenders, who revived Atatürk's political philosophy, provided the Republican People's Party (CHP) with renewed opportunities. However, the AKP's superficial efforts at political "softening" may soon reveal their limitations.

In conclusion, the lack of a cohesive policy philosophy in Turkish politics is a fundamental issue. As Turkey navigates its role on the global stage and addresses internal challenges, the need for visionary leadership and robust political philosophies becomes ever more crucial. Without these, Turkey risks continuing its cycle of transient alliances and short-term gains, unable to secure a stable and prosperous future.

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