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From the Publisher


Dear Readers,

Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Cogan ‘12

The summer was a busy one for foreign policy buffs and a challenging one for the Obama administration. The president relieved General Stanley McChrystal of his command in Afghanistan following the latter’s comments in a Rolling Stone interview. His replacement, General David Petraeus GS *85 and *87, faces a daunting task, especially given the current timetable for withdrawal. Nuclear disarmament, one of President Obama’s other signature foreign policy issues, has hit a roadblock in the Senate as many Republicans insist on stronger commitments to verification and our remaining stockpile before they vote to confirm the “New Start” treaty with Russia. Meanwhile, Iran continues to steam towards a nuclear weapon despite watered-down protestations from the UN. This possible shift in regional power appears to have influenced Turkey’s recent behavior as well. And in Northeast Asia, many speculate that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il is preparing to transfer power, and the DPRK nuclear arsenal, to his son. As always, we aim to address the latest topics in foreign policy. Our cover article this month addresses the latter country, North Korea. George Maliha ‘13 lays out a plan for the US to encourage China to put further pressure on North Korea’s top leaders. John Cappel ‘11 offers a critique of Republican arguments about New Start. And Ben Foulon ‘13 takes a look at intermediate steps to slow Iran’s nuclear program.

Publisher Brian Lipshutz ‘12 Managing Editors Tara Lewis ‘11 Matthew Arons ‘13 Taman Narayan ‘13 Jake Nebel ‘13 Editors Aaron Abelson Brendan Carroll Vishal Chanani Katherine Gaudyn Rachel Jackson Addie Lerner Elias Sánchez-Eppler Zayn Siddique Eric Stern Kit Thayer Oliver Bloom

‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘11 ‘12

Yun Chung Sweta Haldar Jim Hao Natalie Kim Charlie Metzger Jay Parikh Peter Wang Don Butterworth Jonathan Lin Emily VanderLinden Audrye Wong


Besides nuclear issues, Sam Norton ‘12 writes about President Obama’s new man in Afghanistan, General Petraeus, while Bennett Bernstein ‘13 examines the efficacy of the so-called “counterterrorism strategy” for the US. Further north, Christiana Renfro ‘13 considers Turkey’s recent behavior and prospects as a regional power.

Yanran Chen ‘12 Production Manager Christina Henricks ‘13 Kim Hopewell ‘13 Ben Kotopka ‘13 Emily VanderLinden ‘13

Finally, Lauren Zumbach ‘13 draws our attention to Kenya’s recent constitutional referendum. In an AFP filled with weapons, war, and an American president dragged down by foreign setbacks and domestic opposition, we can hope the US will help Kenya, as needed, through its ongoing changes.

Editors-in-Chief Emeriti Rush Doshi ‘11 Dan May ‘11

All the best, Brian Lipshutz ‘12 Publisher American Foreign Policy is a student-written, student-run publication based at Princeton University. It was founded in the wake of September 11th to provide Princeton students with a forum to discuss the difficult problems and choices facing the United States in the world. American Foreign Policy magazine is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. No part of this publication should be construed to promote any pending legislation or to support any candidate for office. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Woodrow Wilson School, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the James Madison Program, Princeton University, or American Foreign Policy. AFP gladly accepts letters to the editor, article proposals, and donations, which are fully tax-deductible.

Copyeditor Emerita Kelly Lack ‘10

Business Staff

Emma Cunningham ‘11

Samuel Roeca ‘12

AFP Advisory Board

Christina Paxson: Dean, Woodrow Wilson School Katherine Newman: Director, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies Robert P. George: Director, James Madison Program G. John Ikenberry: Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs

All correspondence may be directed to: American Foreign Policy, 5406 Frist Center, Princeton, NJ 08544


‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘13 ‘13 ‘13 ‘13

American Foreign Policy

AFP Cover Story

A merican F oreign P olicy October 2010, Volume X, Issue I

ta b l e o f co n t e n ts


Pulling the Rug China’s Role in Preventing a North Korean Nuke George Maliha ‘13


Asking for an Arms Race Why Opposition to New Start Is Misguided John Cappel ‘11


Hope for Afghanistan? Moving Forward Under Petraeus Sam Norton ‘12


AFP Quiz


Global Update


Confronting Iran An Intermediate Approach Ben Foulon ‘13


A Turning Point for Kenya Reform a Precursor to Change Lauren Zumbach ‘13

15 16 18

Benjamin Cogan ‘12

Taman Narayan ‘13

In Context

Taman Narayan ‘13

Redefining Victory The Shift to Counterterrorism Bennett Bernstein ‘13 Looking to the East The Perils of Turkish Foreign Policy Christiana Renfro ‘13

Photo Credits: Creative Commons images from Flickr

October 2010

Cover Image by Yanran Chen ‘12


Cover Story

Photo from flickr.

Pulling the Rug China’s Role in Preventing a North Korean Nuke George Maliha ‘13


eyond the tragic loss of life involved, the recent torpedoing of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship, by North Korea further exposed the inability of the United States, China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan to rein in Kim Jong Il. For nearly two decades, Pyongyang has vacillated between conciliation and brinkmanship in order to force concessions from the US and its allies. To break this cycle, the United States must reevaluate its policy toward North Korea. Any new approach, though, must focus on China’s relationship with its reclusive neighbor. While officially allied with North Korea, China was embarrassed by the North’s seemingly random torpedoing of the Cheonan and is reassessing its relationship with Pyongyang. At this moment of diplo-


matic flux, the United States may have an opportunity to push Chinese policy towards North Korea in a more responsible direction. China’s immense leverage over Pyongyang in the form of food, energy, and other aid could be transformed into an asset in halting Korea’s belligerence and proliferation. So far, China has been unwilling to take a tougher line on North Korea, arguing instead that diplomacy is effective enough. But even before the Cheonan incident, the Chinese argument was fraying. For years, engagement with North Korea has failed to produce lasting progress on the issue most important to regional and global security – proliferation of nuclear and ballistic technology. North Korea has restarted its uranium and plutonium enrichment facilities, expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors,

American Foreign Policy

and detonated two nuclear devices. Even more worrying, Pyongyang’s willingness to trade its weapons research has already transferred military technology to other dangerous states, such as Iran and Syria. North Korean cooperation with Iran on the Shahab-3 ballistic missile may give Tehran the capability to launch nuclear attacks throughout the Middle East and beyond – thus destabilizing a region of immense global strategic importance. Although the US and China both have an interest in a stable and peaceful Middle East, diplomacy has so far failed to secure the interests of either state. What can the US and its allies do to ratchet up the pressure? At this point, not much, at least in economic terms. Unfortunately, America and its allies have exhausted nearly all of their non-military options to alter Pyongyang’s behavior. Japan already halted all trade with North Korea several years ago. South Korea has also curtailed many business ventures in the North, including the once profitable Kaesong Industrial Complex, which provides hard currency to the regime. To prevent weapons trading and hamper the regime’s efforts to raise revenue, the Treasury Department continues to crack down on North Korean financial transactions, and

several armaments shipments have also been returned to port. While such actions have undoubtedly hurt the regime, Pyongyang has not been dissuaded from pursuing its present course. China, however, retains strong leverage over its autarkic neighbor because its assistance plays such a critical role in the regime’s survival. Uninterrupted Chinese investment has allowed Pyongyang to ignore American demands for disarmament. While the US, Japan, and South Korea have recently halted food aid to the North, China continues to support its rogue neighbor. More importantly, unlike other nations, China does not monitor its aid, allowing Pyongyang to provide food to the nation’s “elites” (the military and apparatchiks) at the expense of ordinary North Koreans. In addition, China effectively provides North Korea credit to purchase Chinese goods, allowing the North to divert resources to its weapons programs rather than economic development. In addition, Chinese diplomats have routinely watered down Security Council resolutions and have resisted stronger sanctions against the North. China, indeed, provides the North Korean regime a vital lifeline that keeps the nation relatively stable and allows it to continue to defy the greater international community. Beijing, though, has been reluctant even to curtail its aid to Pyongyang as it fears instability on the Korean Peninsula and desires an ally on its border. If the North Korean government were to collapse, South Korea would move to unify the peninsula under Seoul. To Beijing, a reunified Korea would bring the American nuclear umbrella—and American troops—to the Yalu River. This situation is unacceptable to Beijing, already uncomfortable with the American presence in South Korea. In addition, China feels it has to contend with a growing refugee problem from the North. Inevitably, the influx would become even worse if Pyongyang fell, potentially straining resources in northern China. These considerations provide Beijing an incentive to maintain the status quo and continue enabling the regime. Continued support for the North, however, does not serve China’s long-term interests. While the North is currently friendly to Beijing, if Pyongyang fully develops its nuclear capabilities, not even China will have the leverage to influence the regime significantly; a nuclear North would pursue its own interests, not Beijing’s. Moreover, even if the North does not turn on China,

Cover Story

continued belligerence from Pyongyang will lead to increased militarization on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. China has never been content with the American deployment in the South, but enabling North Korean aggression will only increase that presence. China, indeed, stands to lose if both South Korea and Japan draw closer together and bolster their military forces in response to Pyongyang’s threat. Already, Japan has acquired ballistic missile technology from the US and is expanding its submarine fleet. Moreover, there have been domestic political discussions in Japan on whether to revise its pacifist constitution. This increased militarization, then, hampers China’s efforts to assert itself as a regional and world power and needlessly increases the risk of armed conflict.

“At this moment of diplomatic flux, the United States may have an opportunity to push Chinese policy towards North Korea in a more responsible direction.” The United States, thus, must reassure a wavering Beijing that a defeated North Korea does not harm China’s interests. The US, to allay Chinese fears, should assure Beijing that it would not bring the American troop presence farther north in the reunified state and promise to remove currently deployed nuclear weapons from the South if China joins in isolating the regime and Pyongyang collapses. The US and South Korea should additionally pledge that the South would address any refugee problem with international assistance following a potential collapse of the regime. South Korea also must outline a specific plan for reunification. Although President Lee Myung-bak has proposed a “reunification tax,” the United States and the international community must assist South Korea with the immense costs of reintegrating North Korea. To this end, the US should also press other nations, such as Japan, to resume trading once the regime falls in order to facilitate development in the impoverished

October 2010

region. By signaling the South and the US’s preparedness to efficiently and quickly embrace the North, the US can ease Beijing’s fears. If such actions fail, however, the US must carefully but resolutely pressure China into joining the American effort. Banning (mostly Chinese) companies that do business with North Korea from operating in the US and other willing nations may provide an effective economic deterrent. Most affected firms cannot afford to forgo doing business in the US and other markets. The US could also be more aggressive in pursuing North Korean banking transactions originating from China. On the military front, the US command could increase its naval presence in the area and deploy additional anti-ballistic capabilities. This combination of “carrots and sticks” should encourage China to move from its current position on Pyongyang to concrete actions against the regime. Bringing Beijing firmly into the fold would be especially auspicious at this time, as internal developments within the North indicate that the regime is contending with several problems. Recent riots against Pyongyang’s “currency reform,” which threatened to wipe out the wealth of many North Korean farmers, forced the regime to modify the program. These protests underscore a failing propaganda machine and an increasingly restive population. As more North Koreans learn about the outside world and their nation through smuggled radios, cellular phones, or South Korean television broadcasts, sanctions from Beijing could bring the regime to an end. In less than fifty years, North Korea has transformed itself from a relatively prosperous state to one of the world’s poorest. Pyongyang has consistently refused to comply with international law even as the US and other regional powers have attempted to isolate the regime. As China begins to question its alignment with the North, the US must convince Beijing to join in international sanctions and further isolate the regime. By pressing to cut off Pyongyang’s last source of support, the US and its allies have an opportunity to end one of the world’s most belligerent regimes and ensure a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Afp George may be reached at


US Foreign Policy

Obama and Medvedev sign the New Start Treaty. Photo from Wikicommons.

Asking for an Arms Race Why Opposition to New Start Is Misguided


his past April, President Obama and President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia met in Prague to sign “New Start,” a bilateral nuclear arms-control agreement to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) that expired at the end of 2009. Although the treaty has been credited by some observers as Obama’s most tangible foreign policy achievement, its ratification is less than certain in the face of substantial opposition from prominent Republicans, including Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Failure to ratify New Start would set back nuclear arms control efforts while creating a new element of uncertainty in US-Russian relations that would lead to a substantially


John Cappel ‘11 less stable world. New Start is fairly similar to START I. Both treaties limit each nation’s arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons and establish procedures for verifying treaty compliance. New Start differs from the original treaty in three primary areas: it lowers the limit on each nation’s strategic nuclear arsenal, imposes fewer verification measures, and adjusts rules for counting nuclear weapons. In spite of the general similarity between New Start and START I, which was ratified by a 93 to 6 vote in the US Senate and counted John McCain among its supporters, critics of the new treaty have found no shortage of reasons to oppose it. Opponents’ criticism of New Start has generally fallen into four main areas.

American Foreign Policy

Critics argue, first, that the treaty will unacceptably restrict the development of American missile defense systems. Second, its omission of any limits on smaller, non-strategic nuclear weapons, in which Russia possesses a numerical advantage over the United States, has also drawn fire. Third, some opponents claim that the treaty’s verification measures are inadequate and question whether Russia will uphold New Start. Finally, treaty skeptics insist that New Start cannot be ratified unless the United States simultaneously makes an adequate commitment to modernizing its nuclear weapons. None of these criticisms, either alone or in tandem, are valid reasons for the Senate to refuse to ratify New Start. Critics of New Start vastly exaggerate the restrictions the agreement places on American missile defense systems. The treaty’s preamble states that the United States and Russia recognize “the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms.” This statement, effectively a diplomatic gesture to assuage Russian concerns about American missile defense

systems, is not a binding treaty provision. Russian diplomats could argue that further American missile defense plans would violate the spirit of the New Start preamble, but they could not argue that the United States is legally barred from developing missile defenses. Treaty opponents also complain that one part of the treaty prohibits the placement of missile interceptors in existing ballistic missile silos. It is important to realize that American missile defense plans do not involve missile silo conversion, and Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, testified that the high cost of redesigning interceptors for existing silos would actually make silo conversion “a major setback to the development of [American] missile defenses.” New Start simply places no meaningful restrictions on the United States’ plans to develop missile defense systems. The treaty skeptics’ argument that New Start is dangerous because it does not address smaller non-strategic, or tactical, nuclear weapons is counterintuitive. Certainly, Russia does possess more tactical nuclear weapons than the United States. However, neither START I nor any other U.S.-Russia arms control treaty contained limits on tactical weapons, so New Start will merely preserve the status quo in this matter. Furthermore, the new treaty was intended as a quick, uncontroversial replacement for START I that would merely be the prelude to a more comprehensive nuclear arms control agreement in the near future. By souring diplomatic relations between the two nations, refusing to ratify New Start would probably reduce the chances of the United States and Russia negotiating an agreement to limit tactical weapons. Opponents of New Start further argue that Russia cannot be trusted to uphold the treaty and that the treaty’s verification measures will be inadequate to ensure Russian compliance. Granted, a State Department report released this summer found that Russia violated some of the verification provisions of START I. This report, however, also concluded that Russia upheld the “central limits” of START I. Given Russia’s record of general compliance with START I and the diplomatic costs Russia might suffer from committing major violations of New Start, it is highly unlikely that Russia would exceed the treaty’s limit on strategic warheads or

US Foreign Policy

largely ignore verification measures. Under New Start, the United States would have much more information about Russian nuclear weapons than it would otherwise have and so would be better able to detect expansions of Russia’s arsenal. Russia must retire much of its aging arsenal and has been unable to produce more than a small number of new strategic weapons over the past decade, so any significant, illicit expansion of Russia’s strategic arsenal would take years to achieve and be hard to miss. The United States would simply be much better off having some degree of information on Russia’s arsenal than it would be having no information at all, even if this does come with the cost of dismantling some American

“Failing to ratify [New Start] would be a major foreign policy blunder that could seriously damage diplomatic relations with Russia and even open the door for a renewed nuclear arms race.” warheads. Finally, a number of New Start skeptics insist that the treaty cannot be ratified without an accompanying commitment by the Obama administration to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal. However, this issue lacks any logical connection to New Start ratification. Considering the importance of the treaty to ensuring continued arms control negotiations, the Senate cannot afford to hold its ratification hostage to a largely unrelated policy debate. Opponents of New Start ultimately seem to be criticizing the treaty on the grounds that American negotiators were unable to dictate the treaty terms. Howev-

October 2010

er, instead of asking whether New Start is ideal, Senators need to be asking whether the United States will be more secure with it than without it. If the treaty is ratified, the US will be entitled to information on Russia’s nuclear arsenal and have means of verifying this information. The ratification of New Start would also serve as a stepping stone to a more comprehensive arms control agreement that could address issues such as tactical weapons. At the very least, New Start could be expected to continue the fifteen years of nuclear arms cuts and strategic stability brought about by START I. The future will be far less certain if the Senate does not ratify the treaty. Concerned about its ability to keep its arsenal and intent on maintaining equivalence with the United States, Russia could conceivably agree to concessions in a new treaty. An American refusal to ratify New Start, however, could also enrage Russia and vastly complicate any further efforts to negotiate a new nuclear arms control agreement. With fraying diplomatic relations, no nuclear arms control agreement, and no clear prospect for such a treaty, the United States and Russia could find themselves gradually expanding their nuclear arsenals and initiating a new nuclear arms race. In short, failure to ratify New Start would make the world less stable and more dangerous. New Start is ultimately too important to American national security and international stability for the Senate to not ratify. Failing to ratify the treaty would be a major foreign policy blunder that could seriously damage diplomatic relations with Russia and even open the door for a renewed nuclear arms race. Unless the Senate wishes to create new challenges to American security and international stability, it must ratify New Start. Afp

John may be reached at



Hope for Afghanistan? Moving Forward Under Petraeus


hen an article published in Rolling Stone magazine revealed that General Stanley McChrystal had made disparaging remarks about key members of the Obama administration (including the President), the controversy threatened to jeopardize the faltering US-led mission in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, McChrystal’s disregard for the bedrock American principle of civilian control over the military was not an isolated political gaffe. Rather, it was symptomatic of his broader failure to appreciate that the Afghan conflict requires political as well as military leadership. Understanding that McChrystal’s shortcom-

Sam Norton ‘12 ings rendered him ill-suited to the task he had been assigned barely a year before, Obama decided to accept McChrystal’s resignation, replacing him with the immensely qualified General David Petraeus. While a necessary change, the incident may also serve as a catalyst for improving the odds of achieving victory. Petraeus brings to the job the skills necessary to manage a complex and multifaceted war which requires not just military prowess, but diplomatic and political abilities. Petraeus, the former head of CENTCOM, is best known for leading the dramatic turnaround in Iraq that began with the implementation of the “surge” strategy

in 2007. Obama’s plan for troop increases and a shift in tactics in Afghanistan, which Petraeus played a role in formulating, was developed to emulate the best elements of the surge. Indeed, the problems facing Afghanistan today resemble those that bedeviled Iraq during the most trying years of the US intervention: a corrupt and incompetent local government, hostile regional powers, a populace that distrusts the Americans, and dwindling support for the occupation at home and abroad. Petraeus dealt with each of these concerns as commander in Iraq, and he has the opportunity to replicate his success in Afghanistan in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. As in Iraq, America’s departure from Afghanistan is predicated on the creation of a self-sustaining state that can defend itself from challenges to its authority. For this reason, training Afghanistan’s military and police forces is of paramount importance. The US hopes to create an Afghan army of 134,000 by 2011, with the goal of eventually increasing its size to 240,000. This effort has been met with mixed results thus far. While the army has achieved its recruitment tar-

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus meets with Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan Minister of Defense, in July 2010. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


American Foreign Policy

gets ahead of schedule, its performance in combat has been lackluster, as evidenced by the failure of a recent assault on the village of Bad Pakh. This debacle was no anomaly, but a byproduct of the corruption and indiscipline that plague the nascent army. In light of these setbacks, Petraeus has sought to develop local militias modeled on the Awakening Movement that helped mobilize opposition to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Drawing on the Afghan public’s strong sentiments against the Taliban insurgents, these groups are designed to serve as a temporary measure to alleviate violence while the professional military takes shape. Such forces can be trained at a faster pace than the regular military, and are more in touch with their communities than the national army is. US-backed militias have already proved effective at reducing violence in regions such as Wardak province, indicating that such a policy could produce favorable results elsewhere in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai initially hesitated to endorse this program, viewing it as a challenge to his authority. By eventually persuading Karzai to accept the deal, Petraeus demonstrated his talents as a negotiator, an essential skill for his position. Karzai is far from an ideal partner, but the U.S. has little choice but to continue working with him, just as it had to stomach the inadequacies of the Maliki regime in Iraq when implementing the surge. There is no reason to believe that a viable alternative is possible, and undermining Karzai would likely prove counterproductive. At the same time, Petraeus should avoid becoming too closely attached to Karzai – a mistake made by McChrystal – in order to avoid alienating opponents of the regime who will be a critical part of any peace negotiations. Petraeus will likely take a more prominent role in diplomatic affairs than McChrystal did. His diplomacy should help to compensate for the shortcomings of the two top civilian ambassadors, Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke, who have often been too caught up in bureaucratic warfare. In addition to managing a delicate political situation within Afghanistan, Petraeus must also work on finessing an increasingly fraught regional and international environment. Regionally, he needs to improve relations with Afghanistan’s often troublesome neighbor Pakistan. Fearing that its archrival India could gain influence in Afghanistan, and wary of incurring the


wrath of Islamists within its own borders, Pakistan has proved reluctant to fight the Taliban and, indeed, has occasionally even cooperated with Taliban members. Petraeus, however, is uniquely suited to bridge this divide, given his ties with Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani and his keen insight into the region’s dynamics. Meanwhile, internationally, as countries like Great Britain and the Netherlands prepare to cut back or withdraw their own forces, Petraeus will need to reach out to the remaining NATO coalition members and convince them to stay the course. Perhaps the greatest hurdle obstructing the future of America’s Afghan endeavor is public opinion. Here, the contrast between the savvy Petraeus and his blunt predecessor is striking. McChrystal betrayed a startling lapse of judgment in speaking so openly to the media. Petraeus, on the other hand, is remarkably disciplined when interacting with the press, keeping his focus on positive news of progress on the ground. In addition, Petraeus’s record lends him enormous credibility, buying Obama time to pursue his new strategy in the face of skepticism among voters, including many in his own party. The Senate’s unanimous vote to confirm Petraeus to his new position was a ringing endorsement. With the US death toll rising, and the WikiLeaks revelations about Pakistani involvement with the Taliban reverberating, Obama needs all the help he can get. Petraeus will be of particular assistance in maintaining the backing of key Republicans, such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, many of whom view him very favorably, and hope that he can talk Obama into reevaluating his July 2011 deadline to begin pulling US troops out of Afghanistan. Of course, various factors – some outside of Petraeus’ control – could still hamper progress in Afghanistan. There remains much to be done, especially in terms of fostering economic growth and reliable security. Pulling off the mission will be difficult, but with so much at stake for the United States, it is imperative that President Obama does everything he can to ensure a successful outcome in Afghanistan. The appointment of Petraeus will go a long way toward realizing that goal. Afp Sam may be reached at

October 2010

AFP Quiz Multiple Choice Monthly Benjamin Cogan ‘12 1. Since promising currency “reform” earlier this year, the Chinese government has allowed its currency to appreciate against the US dollar by how much? a. 2% b. 7% c. 11% d. 25% 2. Approximately how many American military service members have been dishonorably discharged since the implementation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 1993? a. 3000 b. 5000 c. 7000 d. 13000 3. Which country has suspended, or has considered suspending, domestic Blackberry service? a. Saudi Arabia b. United Arab Emirates c. India d. All of the above 4. How many blocks will the proposed Park 51 Islamic Community Center be from Ground Zero? a. 0 - it will be on the site itself b. 2 c. 4 d. 8 5. Which ex-Moscow mayor drew the ire of the Kremlin after criticizing Russian president Dmitri Medvedev? a. Gavriil Popov b. Yuri Luzhkov c. Vadim Rudnev d. Anatoly Sobchak

Answers on page 13





Thirty three miners considered dead in a cave-in are miraculously found alive in CHILE. Rescue efforts will take several weeks, leaving the miners trapped in the interim.

Operation Iraqi Freedom ARGENTINA legalizes gay comes to a close with the withmarriage, becoming the first Latin drawal of all but 50,000 American American state to officially grant troops from IRAQ. Still, a new Iraqi equality to homosexual couples. government has yet to form five months after the country’s elections.


H: Violence worsens in the dis-

Ethnic clashes break out in KYRGYZSTAN between the Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks, displacing hundreds of thousands and continuing a recent trend of instability in Central Asia.


puted Kashmir region of INDIA, with security forces besieged by angry protesters demanding independence and responding in turn with deadly force.

American Foreign Policy


Model Naomi Campbell finds herself testifying during the UN’s trial of Liberian strongman Charles Taylor, held in THE NETHERLANDS, after prosecutors alleged that she received blood diamonds from Taylor.


Julia Gillard becomes the first ever female prime minister of AUSTRALIA after the ruling Labor Party removes Kevin Rudd from the post.

J: SPAIN passes a fiercely contested

austerity measure reducing pensions and loosening labor laws, setting off widespread protests throughout the nation, which suffers from 20 percent unemployment.

E: Catastrophic floods sweep

through much of PAKISTAN, triggering a scramble between America and Islamic radicals to provide humanitarian assistance to the strategically important nation.


ISRAEL faces worldwide criticism after its assault on an aid flotilla from Turkey kills at least nine crew members. Under pressure, it agrees to loosen its restrictive blockade on Gaza.

October 2010


The 2010 FIFA World Cup in SOUTH AFRICA goes off without a hitch, displaying the country’s increasing clout and vaulting the world “vuvuzela” into the Oxford English Dictionary.


At least 50 are injured in ECUADOR as the police force attacks president Rafael Correa in an apparent coup attempt.


Middle East

Confronting Iran An Intermediate Approach


or the United States and Israel, Iran’s nuclear program is reaching an especially critical phase. Eight years after Iranian dissidents in London publicly revealed information detailing Iran’s covert nuclear program, the rogue state shows no signs of backing down on its nuclear activities. Indeed, this August, with Russian help, Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Bushehr, became operational. While Iran insists that the plant is only for generating electricity, the plant will also reportedly produce plutonium, which can be used in a nuclear warhead, as a byproduct. This new development comes even as Iran utilizes facilities at Natanz, Qum, and elsewhere to enrich uranium, inching ever closer towards nuclear breakout. This past July, the United Nations passed the toughest round of sanctions yet against Iran, and the United States and the European Union added sanctions of their own. The UN sanctions focus on targeting financial institutions doing business related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program or with certain branches of the Iranian ruling elite, particularly the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the US and EU sanctions target additional areas, such as technological assistance. Few expect the new sanctions to force change in Iran’s behavior, however. The UN sanctions, although stronger than previous ones, fall well short of being crippling, due to opposition from Russia and China, two of Iran’s main trading partners. US sanctions target shipments of gasoline – perhaps the commodity most vulnerable to sanctions due Iran’s extremely limited refining capacity. However, China and Russia have refused to take similar action, severely weakening any impact the US measures could have. Even many Obama administration officials are


Ben Foulon ‘13 conceding that voiced pessimism; as CIA Director Leon Panetta remarked, “Will [the sanctions] deter them [Iran] from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not.” As Iran’s nuclear program proceeds forward, the United States faces a set of difficult options. It could try to forcibly remove Iran’s nuclear program – both to ensure regional security and punish

“...a US blockade would strengthen the sanctions regime against Iran while demonstrating that the United States would be willing to move beyond negotiations and diplomacy if necessary.”

Iran for so long defying the international community – or work to contain Iran so as to counteract the additional regional leverage a nuclear weapons program would afford that nation. Neither is by any means a slam dunk, and both would fundamentally alter the Middle East. In addition, there is the very real prospect of Israel taking unilateral action against Iran – while a nuclear Iran would be problematic for the United States, for Israel it could be an existential threat – adding another dimension of complexity to this deepening crisis. Large strategic decisions aside,

American Foreign Policy

however, the United States does have several intermediate options it can pursue to ratchet up pressure on Iran, particularly with regard to sanctions enforcement. While few disagree that past and current sanctions could and should have had more teeth, upon closer inspection, it is clear that enforcement of the sanctions has been lacking as well. The United States has taken surprisingly little action against violators of its sanctions, and it certainly could do more work searching for such violators. Part of this has to do with cost and bureaucratic inefficiency, but a lot also has to do with the inherent difficulties of enforcement. Nevertheless, the Obama administration could put more resources into enforcement as an intermediate way to ramp up pressure on Iran. Doing so will not be easy: even the most stringent sanctions are hard to enforce. Penalizing offenders can be costly, especially as black markets for sanctioned goods often develop after bigger, legitimate offenders are punished. Moreover, even if a country like the United States were successfully to cripple trade of a certain good to another country, that country could still get that good from the United States through a middleman; for example, nuclear power plant material could leave a US port bound for a country in South Asia but, once in that country, could then be shipped to Iran. In the past, businesses evaded US and UN sanctions by doing business through Iran via businesses in nearby states, the UAE being a prominent example. Tracking what businesses that receive initial shipments do with the material they receive is one of many challenges facing a host of export control agencies within the Defense, State, and Commerce Departments (among others). Certainly, beefing up these efforts would help strengthen the sanctions regime against Iran. Indeed, in recent months, the UAE and several other Arab nations have started cooperating more with the United States with export control efforts as the specter of a nuclear Iran grows more pronounced; Arab nations are threatened by a nuclear Iran too. Should Iran, despite current efforts, reach breakout capacity, the United States has another card to play. The

US could enact the ultimate enforcement mechanism: a naval blockade of Iran. Under such a blockade, the United States could forcibly stop ships and check cargo for sensitive material and barcodes or serial numbers that most companies put on their products to identify if such material was shipped from a US port. This would be necessary because, to enforce US sanctions, the United States can only stop US ships (though as a member of the UN Security Council, the United States could also enforce a blockade on behalf of the UN sanctions as well). Such a blockade would be no easy feat. It would require a substantial number of ships and personnel to search every single commercial vessel going to Iran. Such an aggressive and debatably legal action might also provoke backlash from the international community, so the United States would do well to consult extensively with the Europeans, Russians, Chinese, and others before it undertakes such an action. Moreover,

Middle East

without cooperation from countries neighboring Iran, particularly Russia, there would be no way to enact a total blockade against Iran (though perhaps if President Obama’s “reset” diplomacy with Russia works as planned, the latter may be more willing to help with such an action). Nevertheless, if the United States were to undertake such a blockade, or simply threaten to do so, it would send a clear message to Iran that the United States would be willing to use force if necessary to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. Conveying this intention to Iran could cause it to rethink its options; faced with the likely prospect of U.S. military action, the Iranian government would be more likely to decide that abandoning its nuclear program to maintain its power would be better for it than trying to resist concerted U.S. military. In this way, a US blockade would strengthen the sanctions regime against Iran while demonstrating that the United States would be willing to move

beyond negotiations and diplomacy if necessary. A similar gambit worked against Cuba and may have prevented a Soviet-American WWIII; perhaps now such an intermediate move could resolve this current crisis. Afp

Ben may be reached at

AFP Quiz Answers Multiple Choice Monthly 1. A 2. D 3. D 4. B 5. B

Battleship of the type that could be used in a blockade of Iran. Photo from flickr.

Ben may be reached at

October 2010



A Turning Point for Kenya Reform a Precursor to Change


olitical stability hardly seemed possible in Kenya in the aftermath of its 2007 presidential elections. Following long delays in the announcement of the next president, incumbent Mwai Kibaki was accused of manipulating election results. Violent protests broke out across the country, claiming 1,300 lives. As the situation deteriorated, the international community stepped in to broker a power-sharing agreement between Kibaki and the challenger, Raila Odinga, who would serve as president and prime minister, respectively. Few would have expected the partnership to accomplish so much in just two years. Despite the externally imposed leadership structure, between former political rivals no less, Kibaki and Odinga collaborated to finally bring about long-awaited constitutional reform. On August 4th, 2010, nearly 70% of Kenyans went to the polls and participated in free, fair and peaceful voting on the constitutional referendum that was the product of Kibaki and Odinga’s great compromise. The results of the referendum were announced on time; the camp that had opposed the proposed constitution conceded their loss without protest; and Kenya’s government is now working on enacting the reforms the constitution outlines. But what Kenya’s constitutionwatchers have largely ignored thus far is that this is not the first time they have been promised reform. When elected in 2002, Kibaki was seen as a reformer, promising to end corruption; corruption continued, however, and Kibaki was implicated in the disputed 2007 elections that led to violent protest throughout the country. As such, one new and overlooked aspect of the referendum process that does not depend on Kenyan politicians following through


Lauren Zumbach ‘13 gains additional significance. This critical element is Ushahidi, an innovative locally-based election monitoring program. By offering the promise of ensuring equally fair and peaceful elections in the future, Ushahidi may be as important of a legacy to the Constitutional process as any political reform. This should not be seen as an undervaluing of the promises made in the

“While the specific reforms implemented in the new Constitution are extremely important, even more critical is the legitimization of elections, of the political leadership and of the state itself.”

referendum. The new constitution aims to balance power within government by creating a more effective judiciary, including a new Supreme Court and a better system for identifying and removing corrupt judges, and expanding the legislative branch’s powers. The reforms endorsed in the referendum also include a broader devolution of power to local institutions. In addition to these institutional changes, the new Constitution also calls for the passage of over 49 worthy new laws aimed at limiting pres-

American Foreign Policy

idential power, corruption, patronage, land-grabbing, and ethnic tribalism. These goals present a tall order under the best of circumstances, even more so given the fact that Kenya’s people have been demanding constitutional reforms for the past 20 years. Also, this referendum was required as part of the 2008 power-sharing deal, not as an organic product of the political process in Kenya. While not necessarily a fatal flaw, this makes it much less likely that Kenya’s politicians will be motivated to swiftly enact the reforms people are demanding – especially as many of those laws will involve limiting their own power. If this seems a pessimistic take on Kenya’s prospects, it ignores perhaps the most important takeaway from the recent referendum – that of peaceful and fair voting, which was anything but assured. While the specific reforms implemented in the new Constitution are extremely important, even more critical is the legitimization of elections, of the political leadership, and of the state itself. Without state legitimacy, supposed reforms will have no real power. The referendum’s greatest achievement, therefore, may simply be the precedent it has set for legitimacy in the voting process and the government as a whole. A key reason the day of the vote was not tainted by violence or accusations of manipulated results was the Ushahidi program, which gave Kenyans the responsibility and effective means for monitoring their elections. The program, set up with assistance from the UN Development Program, gave Kenyans the ability to report any potential referendum-related problems by text message. The texts were received by both the Ministry of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security and an NGO overseeing the project. The legitimacy stemming from the program helped overcome the stark divides in voting along ethnic lines. The Luo and Kikuyu regions in western and central Kenya voted almost exclusively “yes,” while the Kalenjin areas, also in western Kenya, voted uniformly “no.” When voting is so sharply ethnic, concerns over the legitimacy of the counting are natural, as was the case in 2007. And while Kenyans are becoming more conscious of the potential problems that

accompany such strong ethnic politics, it seems this system will continue to be the norm, at least in the near future. Legitimizing measures like Ushahidi can therefore help negate some of the possible negative fallout from such ethnic politics. Ushahidi is viable and sustainable as a means of monitoring corruption because it avoids placing the full burden on the international community. Rather than relying on outside assistance that invariably spawns cries of tampering and bias, the Ushahidi program gives the citizens primary responsibility while guaranteeing that if issues are reported, those with the power to act will be listening. Because the people themselves will have the direct ability to report whether the constitutional reforms are not proceeding as planned, any problems will likely be reported before international observers would have been able to identify them, ideally allowing for faster, easier fixes than those achievable by diplomatic means. Kenya seems to be at a tipping point, where successful implementation of constitutional reforms could lead to real progress and promote stability in a troubled region. While the US should not repeat the mistake of turning away from events in Kenya too soon, as it did after the 2002 elections, the US should also not let international oversight backfire and stunt the developing democracy. Based on the role Ushahidi played in the achievement of a peaceful endorsement of the reformed constitution, a similar system designed for technology already in place and optimized for the way Kenyans use it could finally give citizens a way of making their government live up to the promises of the referendum. It may not be the standard approach, but it’s time the international community looked to unconventional methods to get uncommon results. Afp

Lauren may be reached at


In Context

Compiled by Taman Narayan ‘13 “I understand very well the disappointments of the past; I share them.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in convening Middle East peace talks

“She’s plenty tough, tougher than her husband. But does she have a negotiator’s mind-set? These are tough people in a tough neighborhood, who know how to manipulate people.” Aaron David Miller, negotiator in the Clinton administration, on Hillary Clinton’s Middle East peace talks

“I don’t think a single Uighur is convinced that the government is acting in their interests. In fact, the hostile environment is making people feel embattled and resentful.”

Dru C. Gladney, professor of Asian studies at Pomona College

“What’s happening with Kabul Bank shows an advanced level of the weakening of rule of law since 2002. We beg the world to invest here, and on the other hand, our own wealth is disappearing from the country. The fact that government is guaranteeing the bank won’t collapse, who gave them the right to inject all that money into Kabul Bank?”

Mahmoud Saikal, former deputy foreign minister in Afghanistan

“The damage is immense, it’s something that has affected every family, every household…The hit on our infrastructure, the pipes that deliver the water, the waste water, the bridges, the power supplies... has been very significant.” Bob Parker, Mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand, on the magnitude 7.1 earthquake

“I am continually and increasingly mystified by this relationship. To engage with a company that is such a chronic, repeat offender—it’s reckless.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, member of the House Intelligence Committee, on Xe Services, formerly Blackwater Worldwide

“The bombing was the trigger, but the pressure had been building. After a period of accommodation with the Islamic groups, the regime entered this far more proactive and repressive mode. It realizes the challenge that the Islamization of Syrian society poses.”

Peter Harling, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, on the struggle between secular and religious forces in Syria Sources: New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press.

October 2010


Middle East

Redefining Victory The Shift to Counterterrorism


rom the June troop surge to the contentious firing of General Stanley McChrystal to the divisive WikiLeaks scandal, the past summer has likely been the most important for the US war in Afghanistan. Yet for all the public scrutiny surrounding these summer headlines, it is another understated development in the war effort that could have far wider and more lasting implications for American military policy: the strategic decision to transition from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism tactics in the Afghan war. Overtly, statements made by policymakers regarding a strategy change in Afghanistan entail a scaling back of nation-building operations in the region and a lowering of strategic expectations preceding a withdrawal. But at the same time, the policy tacitly implies a sustained, long-term US anti-terrorism campaign on a global scale, using the Afghan precedent as a blueprint, with probable near-term follow-ups in Yemen and Somalia. While the full efficacy of such a policy will only become clear in the next few months, existing evidence suggests that structural intelligence reform and a substantive reevaluation of ground level tactics are both imperative in moving forward. By all indications, America’s Afghanistan strategy is in a period of upheaval. The Obama administration’s long-deliberated 30,000-soldier surge in Afghanistan began in earnest in May. Yet public sentiment about the war has soured even further since the surge, with clamor rising once more for a complete troop withdrawal from the region. With unpromising reports from the spring offensive in Marja, the administration’s timeline for a troop drawdown beginning in June 2011 has also met criticism. Explanations for the mounting discontent are ubiquitous: ballooning casualty figures – 60 deaths recorded in June, exceeded only by the 65 in July – growing frustration in the ranks with civilian policymakers and restrictive rules of engagement (as evinced in the Rolling Stone article that catalyzed McChrystal’s resignation), and the escalating cost of an almost nine-year war effort in the midst of a global economic


Bennett Bernstein ‘13 recession. This last issue might prove the most contentious of all. The Department of Defense budget stands a tick over $700 billion – the highest single area of federal spending outside of Social Security – with almost $200 billion designated specifically for the wars in Afghani-

“The preferred strategic outcome under the new counterterrorism mantra is the achievement of peace and stability in the AfPak region without a protracted and institutionalized nationbuilding effort...” stan and Iraq. With calls to slash the federal deficit, the Pentagon has come under new pressure to shrink its expenditures, prompting Defense Secretary Robert Gates to announce a $100-billion budget slash. In an increasingly hostile climate, many are demanding an exit from Afghanistan because the US simply cannot afford the war. Against this backdrop, strategy has shifted from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism tactics. At the advice of the Kabul jirga (a peace assembly of tribal elders) in June, the Karzai government, Pakistani officials, and NATO have initiated a plan to engage low- and midlevel Taliban insurgents in talks, with the aim of negotiating a political settlement to resolve the Afghan conflict. The allied military has sought to hasten this effort in two ways: by utilizing a $300 million coalition fund to purchase the loy-

American Foreign Policy

alty of low ranking insurgents and by targeting elite Taliban commanders for killing. The preferred strategic outcome under the new counterterrorism mantra is the achievement of peace and stability in the AfPak region without a protracted and institutionalized nation-building effort, typical of a counterinsurgency. Contrary to the time- and manpower-intensive “clear, hold, build” tactics that have characterized recent US Afghanistan operations, which emphasize marshaling local support by developing infrastructure and providing humanitarian services and security, a counterterrorism strategy is much simpler: weaken the targeted terrorist network to the greatest extent possible, expressly by killing prominent terrorist operatives. The counterinsurgency strategy has been espoused by civilian and military officials as a means of securing territories on the national scale and quickly reintegrating them into regional and international politics, specifically in Iraq and recently in Afghanistan. Yet it has proven tedious and costly, both in financial and human terms. In addition, while opponents of recent U.S. counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East have been outspoken and often persuasive, the paucity of public discourse on counterterrorism stems more from a lack of media exposure than from any strategic superiority of the other strategy. Proponents of the counterterrorism strategy have begun to advocate the narrower victory criteria it espouses. “We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose: Al-Qaeda,” proclaimed Vice President Joe Biden on “Today” on July 29th, “We are not there to nation-build. We are not out there deciding we are going to turn this into a Jeffersonian Democracy.” When Rhode Island senator Jack Reed was asked whether the June 2011 withdrawal date for American troops in Afghanistan, which remained firm despite a stagnating ground campaign, indicated that the military was shifting from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism, he replied, “I believe that is the approach.” The counterterrorism strategy is already yielding results. Reports indicate that at least 130 high-ranking insurgents have been killed since March. Intelligence cites increasing examples of junior Taliban subordinates refusing promotion for fear of being targeted. American and Afghan officials view the coalition’s bargaining position as so improved that they are strongly considering engaging the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan this fall to negotiate a peace settlement should the militants agree to renounce Al-Qaeda. Yet, for all the utility of the movement

towards counterterrorism strategies in Afghanistan, the motivation behind the strategy change is suspect. While carrying out targeted killings against terrorist militants may appear to be a choice avenue in the effort to hasten a conclusion to the Afghan War, the strategy sets a poor precedent for future military endeavors. While this problem might seem merely semantic, there are strong indications that the strategy being employed in Afghanistan is meant as a provisional blueprint for the military, intended for reuse in volatile terrorist havens worldwide. With its heavy reliance on extralegal strike teams and covert spying, a sustained global counterterrorism effort raises huge moral, legal, and financial questions. Yet, the Pentagon has already extended these strategies to Yemen and Somalia and is expanding intelligence-gathering in the Middle East with an eye towards growing the US military presence there even further. Furthermore, a key issue has emerged in counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan: the collateral damage by US and NATO troops to Afghan civilians. One of more profound revelations from the WikiLeaks report this past July was the flood of details about the shadowy Task Force 373, a troop of Army Delta Force Officers and Navy Seals responsible for assassinating high-ranking Taliban agents. A series of leaked classified documents revealed three separate incidents in June and October 2007 in which they killed seven Afghan policemen in a firefight, seven civilian children with HIMAR rockets, and then six more civilians in an air raid, pursuing Taliban targets each time. The reports provided examples of at least four “high value targets” killed by the task force, and likely included several other coded references to the unit, both successful and not. But they have also raised troubling questions. For one, the continued use of an extralegal killing team responsible for numerous civilian deaths is a huge ethical liability for the American military. These soldiers themselves are forced into the difficult position of making life-and-death decisions on tenuous ground-level intelligence, even as their own safety is also often endangered. Secondly, blowback from botched missions like the ones described by WikiLeaks brings into question the efficacy of the strategy on the whole: if accidental civilian deaths engender anti-American sentiment and fuel terrorist and insurgent ideologies, can this strategy really be beneficial? As in the case of automated Predator drone aircraft attacks (the frequency of which stands to increase under counterterrorism tactics), counterterrorist killing squad activities often unfavorably affect civilian resolve – and so may

Middle East

actually empower terrorist networks in the long run, though weakening them in the near term. Yet for all that counts against it, the global US counterterrorism effort is substantively growing, not shrinking. In 2009, the New York Times reported that the US has tacitly begun counterterrorist exercises against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. While the Pentagon claims to be spending $70 million to bolster Yemeni police forces, at least four airstrikes have been launched in the region since December, and in all likelihood the American Special Forces teams in the region are doing far more than training Yemenis. In August, UN soldiers returned to Somalia after almost two decades of absence, joining African Union peacekeepers in what will almost certainly escalate into sustained conflict against Al-Shabaab, a prominent local terrorist organization. While both regions doubtless contain key terrorist network elements – Anwar Al-Awlaki, the Al-Qaeda recruiter with ties to Nidal Malik Hasan (the Fort Hood Assassin) and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the would-be Christmas Day bomber), is known to be hiding in Yemen,– the moral, strategic, and economic consequences of more counterterrorist operations in two new coun-

tries warrant, at the very least, an open public dialogue. As the U.S. ratchets up intelligence gathering in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tajikistan, and Sudan, the American people deserve an engaged discourse with policymakers and the opportunity to voice dissent and skepticism, not confront counterproductive secrecy. In a telling illustration, a May airstrike in the Marib province of Yemen killed a cell of suspected Al-Qaeda operatives but also the province’s respected deputy governor. The botched attack prompted a counterstrike by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula against an oil target, but also a wave of anti-Western protests, organized by the Al-Qaeda group, in which previously pro-American Yemenis also took part. A renewed global effort against terrorism is too important, complex and costly to be waged in secret. We need political openness and a serious, comprehensive evaluation of whether this strategy is most prudent for the nation on the whole. Afp

Bennett may be reached at

Drone similar to the ones used in Afghanistan. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

October 2010


US Foreign Policy

Looking to the East The Perils of Turkish Foreign Policy Christiana Renfro ‘13


ince the founding of modern Turkey in 1923, the nation has found itself at the crossroads of continents and, indeed, civilizations. In fact, its largest city, Istanbul, is divided between the two geographic regions, straddling the Bosphorus in a way that mirrors Turkey’s essential dilemma: that of maintaining and developing alliances with two groups of nations that are often struggling to quell conflict from within as well as the other After World War II, Turkey became one of the United States’ most valuable allies, remaining Western-allied in a region of the world that was falling into the hands of the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, however, Turkish foreign relations have gradually drifted away from staunch Western alignment and toward a more diversified policy with greater attention paid to the Middle East. According to Lehigh University professor Henri Barkey, “When you look at what they have been doing in the Middle East, it’s very much influenced by their belief that they are the most important country in the region […] the one country that now people listen to.” These recent policy decisions have alarmed the West, prompting the EU and US to reaffirm their commitment to supporting Turkey in the hopes that the nation will nip its newfound turn away from the West in the bud. Turkey has overestimated the extent to which the West will tolerate Turkish assertiveness and has ignored the perils of the country’s new Middle Eastern partnerships. If Turkey continues to distance itself from its longtime, economically dominant allies and to further entangle itself in the fragmented and chaotic Middle Eastern political sphere, Turkey may soon find itself with few friends and unexpected enemies. Upon its rise from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire as a modern nation, Turkey began a political transformation that would orient it toward the West and away from the Middle East. In a series of reforms known as Kemalism, former military general Mustafa Kemal Atatürk radically altered the essence


of Turkish identity, creating a Westernized, democratic and secular nation that broke the regional mold of authoritarianism. It quickly joined NATO as the Cold War began, cementing its position as an ally of the West by becoming the first Muslim-majority nation to recognize Israel and by sending troops to Korea during the Korean War. As late as the mid-2000’s, Turkey still appeared to be heavily allied with the West. The majority of its trade still occurred with the United States, and in 2005 it began economic and legal preparations for its formal EU bid. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan’s government has gone to extensive lengths to reform the country’s legal, economic, and political system to conform to EU standards. His Islamist political party has moderated its views, at-

“Turkey has overestimated the extent to which the West will tolerate Turkish assertiveness...” tempted to quell the influence of the military (modern Turkish history is rife with military coups), and spent countless visits to the EU and US attempting to convince them of Turkey’s very real economic potential. Yet Turkey’s dreams of EU membership are slipping away, due to the concerns of several powerful EU members, particularly France and Germany, who have articulated fears both real and imagined of the dangers of Turkish membership in the world’s most exclusive club of nations. In addition to European hesitation about Turkey’s EU bid, two other events have greatly influenced Turkey’s turn toward the East. In late 2008, Turkey sponsored peace talks between Syria and Israel that many

American Foreign Policy

hoped would be the beginning of a multilateral regional peace agreement. The talks ended with the Turkish government believing the negotiations to have been somewhat successful; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, failed to inform Turkey of the Gaza incursion that was to begin four days later. Upon hearing news of the raid, Erdoğan was reportedly furious; at the Davos Conference in January of 2009, he revealed what many have termed a hotheaded temper, referring to Israel’s actions in Gaza as “barbaric” and “a crime against humanity.” Relations between Israel and Turkey were further damaged in May of this year, when Israeli Defense forces stormed the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship intent on breaking the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Nine Turkish activists, including one with dual US citizenship, were killed, with Turkey claiming its activists were fired on indiscriminately and Israel claiming its own soldiers acted in self-defense. In the ensuing diplomatic crisis, the US angered many in Turkey with its tepid response; while the practical military arrangements of the Turkish-Israeli alliance remain largely intact, their diplomatic relationship is in tatters. It is because of these events, along with the increasing Islamization of the Turkish government, promoted by Erdoğan’s own party, that Turkey has been led to pursue a foreign policy that not only corresponds more directly with Middle Eastern goals but also goes directly against its previously solid Western alliances. In June of 2010, the Turkish government claimed to have secured US approval to broker a nuclear swap deal between Turkey, Brazil, and Iran, in which the former two nations would exchange Iranian low-grade nuclear material with highergrade fuel that could be used for research and other peaceful purposes. This agreement directly conflicted with a UN resolution placing further sanctions on Iran, which Brazil and Turkey were later the only two nations to vote against, showcasing the manner in which both nations had overplayed their diplomatic hands. Additionally, Erdoğan’s government has pursued closer political relations with Syria, Iran, and Sudan, and refused to acknowledge either the genocide charges against Sudanese leader Omar alBashir, the countless acts of violent political repression committed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It has, however, simultaneously and hypocritically condemned the Israeli government for its treatment of the Palestinian people.

But if Turkey ventures much further into the Middle Eastern camp, it may find itself trapped in a quagmire of sectarian conflict from which it will not easily emerge. Turkey’s alliance with Iran, a nation many Middle Eastern states view as a greater longterm threat than even their eternal enemy Israel, has already disturbed Turkey’s Arab neighbors. Its alliances with Syria and Iran, when taken together, upset many Sunni nations, who see it as an attempt to establish a Shi’ite consensus that might rival their own majority Sunni sect. Yet if Turkey attempts to appease both East and West, it will find itself similarly trapped. Its alliance with the US will put it at odds with Iran should America or Israel attempt to strike militarily to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities. Its alliance with Israel puts it directly at odds with its newfound allies in Syria and Iran, neither of whom recognize Israel’s right to exist or appreciate Turkey’s longstanding practice of swapping military intelligence with the nation. Furthermore, the region in which Turkey borders Syria and Iran is dominated by the Kurds, whose main separatist group, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), has been in a civil war with the Turkish government since 1984. Should Turkey displease either nation,

US Foreign Policy

either would be in a prime position to support the PKK in its struggle against Turkey for an independent breakaway state, creating a massive headache for the Turkish government and further jeopardizing its EU bid. It seems that Turkey has been cornered into a diplomatic dead end. Yet these events are recent, and with a few deft diplomatic moves by the EU and the US, the nation might be encouraged to pursue a less aggressive, more beneficial foreign policy. For one, the US and Britain could use the potential predicaments Turkey faces in the Middle East as reasons why Turkey should turn away from its fast-paced foray into the East and focus on its alliance with the West. These nations can provide incentives for such a move by offering to continue to push for Turkey’s EU membership bid, even if that means convincing Germany and France that the Union is not, in fact, a “Christian-only” club, as they seem to believe. The US should work with the EU to encourage Erdoğan’s government to resolve Kurdish separatist violence in the southeast, as well as tensions that still exist with Cyprus and Turks of Armenian descent. The US might also nudge Turkey in the direction of the West by continuing to encourage Israeli-Turkish cooperation; despite recent

diplomatic woes, the two maintain economic and military connections, and Israel’s nuclear capacity and military might continue to appeal to Turkey. Finally, the US should make clear the impossibility of a long-term Turkish alliance with both Iran and America. Between its dogged quest for nuclear capacity and its funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon and violent insurgencies in Iraq, Iran under President Ahmedinejad represents the greatest threat to both US interests and peace within the Middle East today. A single allying agreement with Iran will not severely damage Turkey’s relations with the West, but a long-term partnership will. Turkey is at a crossroads between continents and civilizations, yes, but between nations too. Hopefully Turkey will dismantle the ticking time bomb it has set for itself, and resolve its discordant foreign policy in favor of the West. If not, it may find itself, like many in the middle, alone. Afp

Christiana may be reached at

Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan speaks at the 2009 World Economic Forum. Photo from flickr.

October 2010


Can’t Be a Politician?

Write about politics instead!

AFP Summer 2010  

The Summer 2010 Issue of Princeton's American Foreign Policy Magazine

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