Πέμπτη, 6 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012

Russia and Turkey's Relationship: A Great Example of the Changing International Order

I’m back from a brief hiatus from blogging during which I journeyed to Italy for a friend’s wedding and did all sorts of other super-important writerly things. I’m (mostly) over my jet-lag on this fine Tuesday morning, so I figured I would jump right back into the fray. Although I don’t have enough time to do a super-lengthy or detailed piece today, I did want to flag a story about the Russia-Turkey relationship from the Washington Times that was actually quite insightful and well done:

The deals have been made even while Turkey criticizes Russian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and Moscow fumes over a NATO early-warning radar system in Turkey
“These are countries that have been able to compartmentalize their differences,” said former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul (EDAM).
“It has been a relationship driven by mutual economic gain.”
Gas- and oil-producing giant Russia has enlisted Turkish support for its proposed South Stream pipeline to diversify its access points to European markets.
I’d encourage everyone to read the article in full, it’s not particularly lengthy, but it’s very nice to see this phenomenon getting more attention since the changes in the Russia-Turkey relationship are a very handy example of the direction in which the world is moving. In the very recent past, Russia and Turkey had horrible and antagonistic relations, were members of two competing military alliances, and had a tiny, insignificant, economic relationship. If they weren’t outright enemies (“enemy” is a term that tends to get thrown around quite recklessly, particularly in foreign policy commentary) they were awfully close.
Yet, particularly over the past decade, as their economies have grown by leaps and bounds and as they’ve become more integrated into global trade flows,  Turkey and Russia have learned to “compartmentalize” their differences. Instead of focusing on their many outstanding disagreements, they have focused on mutually beneficial trade relations in which an energy-hungry Turkey works with an energy-exporting Russia. What a truly radical step!
However, while they have become closer, Russia and Turkey have not in any way become “allies.” The article elides the Armenia issue, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that Russia and Turkey have very different views on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the appropriate way of ending it. The two countries also strongly, vehemently disagree over how best to proceed with Syria, but they’ve been determined not to let anything scuttle the most important parts of their bi-lateral relationship.
This is something that Americans seem to have a very hard time understanding. We have a tendency to group foreign countries into “allies” and “foes:” either you’re fully on board with American foreign policy objectives or you’re a part of the problem (think, for a moment, over the rage directed against “Old Europe” immediately before the Iraq war). But that sort of binary “you’re with us or your’e against us” approach is just not the way the world works anymore. Particularly among the countries whose economies are growing most rapidly, the BRICS and other large emerging markets, there are very few people who think of the world in such black and white terms.
Instead what you get is a constantly shifting landscape that is full of trade-offs and compromises. So, from the Turkish perspective, yes, Russia, we’ll help you build this gas pipeline but, no, we won’t help you support Assad, and from the Russian perspective yes, we’ll build this nuclear power plant but no we won’t think for a moment of changing our close relationship with Armenia.
This is a type of diplomacy that is noteworthy for its relentless focus on the bottom line, the Washington Times accurately focused on the extent to which the Turkey-Russia relationship is built on an economic basis, and for the almost complete absence of ideology as it is commonly understood. If anything Turkey and Russia have diverged politically, Turkey has become more democratic and representative and Russia has become more authoritarian and closed, precisely during the time that their overall relationship has improved most swiftly. Yet, as best I can tell, this hasn’t had any noticeable impact; the economic components of the relationship are simply far more crucial than the political ones.
America is perfectly capable of thriving in such a world, but it will require a statecraft that is far more nimble, nuanced, and patient than the current iteration. Hectoring lectures about democracy and the need to heed the will of the “international community” have never been terribly effective, but in a world that is ever-more economically intertwined, and which features robust relationships between former antagonists like Turkey and Russia, they will be almost entirely useless. The flowering of Turkey-Russia trade is an excellent example of the radical transformations to international relations that will inevitably follow as “the rest” continue to economically converge with the advanced Western countries.


 

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου

Παρακαλούνται οι φίλοι που καταθέτουν τις απόψεις τους να χρησιμοποιούν ψευδώνυμο για να διευκολύνεται ο διάλογος. Μηνύματα τα οποία προσβάλλουν τον συγγραφέα του άρθρου, υβριστικά μηνύματα ή μηνύματα εκτός θέματος θα διαγράφονται. Προτιμήστε την ελληνική γλώσσα αντί για greeklish.