The (un)making of the Pax Turca in the Middle East: understanding the social-historical roots of foreign policy
Cambridge Review of International Affairs
1279 - 1302
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Turkey’s foreign policy activism has received mixed reviews. Some feel threatened by the alleged increasing Islamization of the country’s foreign policy, sometimes called ‘neo-Ottomanism’, which is seen as a significant revision of Turkey’s traditional transatlanticism. Others see Turkey as a stable democratic role model in a troubled region. This debate on Turkish foreign policy (TFP) remains dominated by a sense of confusion about what appear to be stark contradictions that are difficult to make sense of. Intervening in this debate, this article will develop an alternative perspective to existing accounts of Turkey’s new foreign policy. Offering a historical sociological approach to foreign policy analysis, it locates recent transformations in Turkey’s broader strategies of social reproduction. It subsequently argues that, contrary to claims about Turkey’s ‘axis shift‘, its changing foreign policies have in fact never been pro-Western or pro-American. All foreign policy ‘shifts’ and ‘inconsistencies’, we argue, are explicable in terms of historically changing strategies of social reproduction of the Ottoman and Turkish states responding to changing domestic and international conditions.