Turkey’s overreliance on softpower instruments provedproblematic as Turkey addressed the contingencies in Libya andSyria.
under the rubric o “regional ownership,” urkey has advo-cated or local actors assuming larger roles or the creationo a regional order, which, in eect, has increasingly under-mined the ground or coordinated action with the UnitedStates.Ironically, the emphasis on an order-instituting role reachedits climax on the eve o the Arab Spring. In a January 2011lecture, Davutoğlu called or a proactive oreign policy,meaning urkey should be able to anticipate potential crisesand develop appropriate preventive measures. More impor-tantly, a proactive oreign policy meant that urkey shouldbe in a lead role in the resolution o regional and globalcrises, abandoning the reactive policies that had character-ized the country’s international practices.
Post-Arab Spring: Rise of Pragmatism?
Te Arab Spring has starkly presented the limits to urkey’sability to understand and shape the regional security dynamics. First, it must have reminded urkish leaders thatthe element o uncertainty inherent in international rela-tions presents a major constraint to any attempt at devisingan ambitious grand strategy. Perhaps urkey may not becriticized or ailing to anticipate a contingency such as theArab Spring, as it caught many regional and global actorsunprepared. Judged by the earlier grandiose rhetoric o devising proactive policies to ride regional transormation,however, it captures the eye that urkey was not in the leadposition in eorts to address the uprisings, except or theortunate intervention in Egypt where Erdoğan’s call onMubarak to leave power earned him applauds.Erdoğan’s knee-jerk rejection o the imposition o sanctionsagainst the regime o Col. Muammar Gadda, and his vocalquestioning o NAO’s possible role in Libya, were drivenless by the actual acts on the ground than his belies aboutright course o action. urkey managed to avoid being side-lined by the pace o events only through a pragmatic changeo course, simply disregarding its categorical objections.urkey, overall, “reacted” to the Western agenda, ratherthan “proactively” determining the policy instruments andplatorms that tackled the violent uprising in Libya.In Libya, urkey bandwagoned with the international coali-tion, and did so only aer much bickering about UN-autho-rized sanctions and the use o orce. Despite Erdoğan’sinitial rhetoric, which accused other powers o pursuingneo-imperialistic policies and described urkey as theonly country with a morally-driven and righteous agenda,urkey soon recognized the rapidly changing circumstancesand redened its policy, which culminated in Erdoğan’strip to the country. In Syria, again, Ankara lagged behindthe Western world — which launched coercive measuresagainst the Baath regime — and only recently moved inthat direction. What is also remarkable is that in both casesurkey moved to coordinate its policies with the UnitedStates, abandoning the early rhetoric o autonomous action.Similarly, urkey’s overreliance on so power instruments,which almost bred aversion to the use o coercion, provedproblematic as urkey addressed the contingencies in Libyaand Syria. On the issue o regime change, urkey — basedon the idealist oreign policy vision, Davutoğlu’s earlierwritings, and the lessons learned rom Aghanistan and Iraq— deended gradual transormation o existing regimes,standing against regime change through oreign interven-tion. However, urkey’s so power tools were o no avail,as it sought to present an “Ankara-based” solution to Libyaand Syria. Syria, in particular, showcased how, aer havinginvested political capital or “engaging” the Assad regime,urkey ailed to turn its so power into political leverage.
Where Goes Pragmatism?
Te major principles underpinning urkey’s oreign policy vision beg reconsideration, having ailed to stand the test o events sparked by the Arab Spring. At the core o urkey’spre-Arab Spring vision was a strong belie o its leaders intheir ability to understand and shape the region aer theirown image. Its leaders imagined a urkey that can leadby example and devise policies with oresight in order toprevent regional crises. Faced with ast-evolving contingen-cies, urkey rapidly responded to new conditions, though