Despite the different profiles that the last three American presidents presented to the world and despite the unsettled and unsettling state of domestic politics in the USA, the foreign and security shift by Washington is clear: A high degree of unilateralism combined with the zeal to contain China will lead the USA to engage in relative disengagement from many theaters and concentrate almost exclusively on the Indo-Pacific region. This choice and the attending policy choices will have a bearing on the Atlantic alliance, European security and the way Europe relates to its own “near abroad”. As the world order is entering this new phase whereby the USA will highlight its own Pacific identity over its Atlantic one, and the international system is being forged anew, Turkey like many other countries will have to respond to the new conditions and will have to make certain definitive choices.
There will be structural determinants pushing it in a certain direction but whether or not its rulers will either fully comprehend the new setup or will be able to manage it to serve the best interests of the country is uncertain. How Turkey evolves and which path it chooses will have serious ramifications for Europe. The lack of dialogue and comprehension between the two parties that define the current state of their relations is untenable and detrimental to the security, stability and welfare of both especially at a time of climate disasters and refugee waves.
Soli Özel is a professor of international relations and political science at Istanbul Kadir Has University. Currently, he is a Tom and Andi Bernstein Fellow at the Schell Center, Yale Law School. Previously, he was a guest lecturer at Georgetown University, Harvard University, Tufts University, and other American universities. He also taught at UC Santa Cruz, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, the University of Washington, and Hebrew University. He has held fellowships at Oxford University and the EU Institute of Strategic Studies, and was a Fisher Family Fellow at the Belfer Center of the Harvard Kennedy School.
Özel’s articles and opinion pieces appear in a wide variety of leading newspapers in Turkey and around the world. Currently, he is a columnist for Haberturk, a frequent contributor to The Washington Post’s Post Global, and the former editor of the Turkish edition of Foreign Policy. He co-authored (with Suhnaz Yilmaz and Abdullah Akyuz) Rebuilding a Partnership. Turkish-American Relations For a New Era? (2009).