What About Foreign Policy (R)ealism?-From The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘Turkey Rises Against Islamist Rule’

Full piece here.

‘The world needs to open its eyes and perceive the danger of Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan for regional stability and pluralism. Erdoǧan has overreached; a new Turkish revolution may have begun. On Tuesday, the Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions, known from its Turkish name as KESK, called for a two-day strike against Erdoǧan’s “fascism.” The people of Turkey have promised to resist Erdoǧan’s authoritarian ambitions until victory is achieved.’

Many Westerners are looking at the situation in Turkey and seeing shared ideals of freedom for individual rights against authority and tyranny.  Erdogan is ‘the man’, and he’s keeping his people down, away from the voluntary associations (real Leftists are  authoritarian themselves) and freedoms of choice that could allow civil society to flourish under the rule of law.  Individual freedom is what Taksim Square’s about and Erdogan is finally getting push-back for taking Ataturk’s secular authoritarianism and simply continuing with his own brand of Islamic authoritarianism.

Even Fareed Zakaria sees it as an Arab World struggle between democracy (the act of people voting and participating) and small ‘l’ liberalism (the development of individual rights and the rule of law we’re more familiar with in the West).  Turkey’s growing up as a Western State, and even though the process is messy, it’s one we should welcome:


The libertarian view of voluntary associations, at least, is a view I’m more inclined to share for civil society here at home, especially in response to progressive and 60’s idealist/civil rights social programs and Statist plans for the rest of us.  If it isn’t the New Deal, it’s the Great Society, or Obamacare.  Heck, I’d definitely take small ‘l’ liberalism and civil libertarianism over Leftism any day.

Abroad though, while I recognize the value of solidarity for those in Taksim square, just as I do for Iran’s Green revolution, I have some doubts as to how well (l)iberalism actually travels.  Prospects are looking pretty grim after the Arab Spring, and Turkey would seem an exception in the Arab world.

Here’s a quote by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, offering advice for Jimmy Carter a while back:

In his essay Representative Government, Jon Stuart Mill identified three fundamental conditions which the Carter administration would do well to ponder.  These are: “One, that the people should be willing to receive it [representative government]; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them.”

-From Dictatorship And Double Standards.

This is also worth keeping in mind after the Arab Spring.

It might be useful to think about a realist response to the current administration’s very idealistic liberal internationalism (tempered by realpolitik, yes, but further Left than Clinton Hawkishness, for sure).

Here’s a quote from ‘Observing Japan,’ drawing a distinction between big ‘R’ and small ‘r’ realists:

‘I would argue that the two former secretaries of States are, in fact, capital-R Realists {James Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger}. To them, all foreign policy is essentially reactive, grounded in iron laws shaped by Westphalian era of international relations. States may differ in relative power capabilities, but all seek to use whatever capabilities they have to secure their interests in the midst of perpetual competition among states. Ideals — the world as it ought to be — have little place in this vision of international affairs.’

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, on the other hand,  would be defined as a small ‘r’ realist according to our author (keep in mind that neo-conservatives tend to be liberals ‘mugged by reality,’ or people who once shared the ideals, but now have doubts):

‘Accordingly, the view of foreign policy outlined by Jeane Kirkpatrick in her 1979 essay in Commentary, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” was largely consistent with the domestic policy views of thinkers like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Irving Kristol, James Q. Wilson, and Nathan Glazer. Policymaking in pursuit of ideals isn’t the problem; failing to temper ideals with a sober assessment of reality is.’

Those men all were reacting domestically to progressivism and liberalism, LBJ’s ‘Great Society‘ programs and other progressive projects, and maybe Kirkpatrick spoke their language a bit better than the (R)ealists like James Baker.

There aren’t old hands like James Baker hanging around the Republican party nowadays.

Who can we do business with in the Middle-East after the ‘Arab Spring’?  Where are our potential allies and alliances, and how (R)eal should we keep it?

Related On This Site:  Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Najat Fawzy Alsaeid At The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘The War Of Ideologies In The Arab World’

Samuel Huntington worked against modernization theory, always going against the grain, and argued that a chasm between the West and Islam will be a primary source of post Cold-war conflict: Clash of Civilizations:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

His student, Francis Fukuyama and once neo-conservative (likely before working with the locals against Russians in Afghanistan and sometime after we invaded Iraq) charted his own course in The End Of History.   From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…he’s now taken that model of Hegelian statecraft home: Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘James Q. Wilson, 1931-2012′

So, it wasn’t an Arab Spring, but there has been an erosion of the old rituals and control of the public square….more individualization that has affected the man on the Street, according to an Olivier Roy: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

4 thoughts on “What About Foreign Policy (R)ealism?-From The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘Turkey Rises Against Islamist Rule’

  1. Nor is the State justified in prohibiting voluntary associations on the ground that they may become inimical to public welfare. An institution should not be utterly condemned because it is liable to abuse; otherwise an end must be made of all institutions that are erected and conducted by human beings . The State has ample power to protect itself against all the abuses to which liberty of association is liable. It can forbid societies that aim at objects contrary to good morals or the public welfare, lay down such reasonable restrictions as are required to define the proper spheres of the various associations, punish those societies that go beyond their legitimate fields, and, in extreme cases, dissolve any particular organization that proves itself to be incorrigible. Through these measures the State can provide itself with all the security that is worth having; any further interference with individual liberty should be a greater social evil than the one that is sought to be remedied. The formality of legal authorization, or registration is not in itself unreasonable, but it ought not to be accompanied by unreasonable conditions. The procedure ought to be such that any society formed in accordance with the appropriate law of association could demand authorization, or registration, as a civil right, instead of being compelled to seek it as a privilege at the hands of an official clothed with the power to grant or refuse it at his own discretion.

  2. Thanks for commenting.

    The problem I see is that society is full of different individuals, groups, ideologies, and visions of the good, as well as what the ‘oughts’ and disagreements about the limits of reason, knowledge, truth and moral obligations themselves.

    As someone generally libertarian/conservative, I’d like to stay closer to the Constitution, and with a limited State in size and scope, subject to review by the people asking what can government do? What do we need it to do that we can’t do for ourselves?

    The formalized State’s power accumulates, and calcifies, and must have means of responsiveness to the people and to change but also must have enough institutional authority to properly function. Power must be constrained and maintain a certain depth of moral thinking and broader principle to function.

    Any one person or group’s vision of the good must be constrained and checked, as power corrupts, and I believe people naturally seek to extend their own power in the name of ideals, political expedience, self-interest, human nature, the incentives of the job etc. Besides, a lot of what we think we know can be wrong. Let’s have many branches of government, constrained by each other.

    I prefer a State which allows a very high level of freedom of speech, association and voluntary actions and cooperation, which also may come to challenge the authority of the State. I also believe in some constraint upon our own natures, and I maintain a healthy mistrust of any State authority to determine what those constraints are.

    As a citizen of the U.S., I look at Turkey and say: “Great, they’re developing individual freedoms and pushing back against authority, maybe upon principle and not just their own aims. This is a welcome development. Let’s hope it’s a process and not a revolution.”

    I also look at the history of the Middle East, of Islamic authority, of Islamism, of tribal loyalties and autocratic military leaders, of imperialism of colonialization, of Turkey’s past Caliphate and Ataturk’s authoritarianism and say:

    “As Americans, we should recognize its own history is not ours, the ideas and ideals which motivate Turks may not be motivating Americans, and that sometimes our interests may conflict with theirs, as we pursue our own self and national interests.”

    I’d like to see a less idealistic U.S. foreign policy, some support of the protesters, some continued carrots and sticks to have Turkish civil society move in a direction I’d like to see it go.

    Sorry for the long response.

  3. Pingback: Steynian 477nd | Free Canuckistan!

  4. Pingback: The Green Man » What About Foreign Policy (R)ealism?-From The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘Turkey Rises Against Islamist Rule’

Leave a Reply