Examining leaders' orientations to structural constraints: Turkey's 1991 and 2003 Iraq war decisions
Taner, B. O.
Journal of International Relations and Development
Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.
29 - 54
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Please cite this item using this persistent URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/11693/37229
Explanations of states' security decisions prioritise structural - systemic, institutional and cultural - constraints that characterise foreign security decisions as a function of external/international, domestic/institutional, or normative/cultural factors. By examining Turkey's 1990-1991 and 2003 Iraq war decisions systematically, we problematise this prioritisation of structure, and we investigate the dynamic relationship between structural constraints and leaders in their decision-making environments. In these cases, while the structural constraints remain constant or indeterminate, the decision outcomes and the decision-making process differ significantly. Our findings, based on structured-focused comparison, process tracing, and leadership trait analysis, suggest that the leaders' personalities and how they react to constraints account for this difference and that dependence on only one set of factors leads to an incomplete understanding of security policies and international politics. We contribute to the broader understanding of leaders' personalities by suggesting that self-confidence and cognitive complexity are the key traits distinguishing leaders' orientations towards structural constraints. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.