Turkey can be bedrock of stability: Harvard political scientist

Turkey can be bedrock of stability: Harvard political scientist

İpek Yezdani - ISTANBUL / ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr
Turkey can be bedrock of stability: Harvard political scientist

Turkey can be the “bedrock of stability” in the Middle East, according to Joseph S. Nye, a prominent political scientist from Harvard University who served as an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

“If we look ahead we are going to see turmoil in the Middle East for quite some time. So a stable Turkey will be critically important to try to anchor a region which otherwise I am afraid is going to a regional turmoil and disruption. We have to rely upon Turkey as a solid anchor in the region,” he told Hürriyet on the sidelines of an award ceremony in Istanbul late April 10.

Joseph S. Nye, who coined the term “soft power” in the late 1980s, has been granted the Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award.

He is the co-founder, along with Robert Keohane, of the international relations theory of neoliberalism, developed in their 1977 book “Power and Interdependence.” 

“If we look at the disputes between Sunni and Shia, and in the Iraq area, Levant, if we look at the competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, I am afraid we are going to see some years of instability in the Middle East,” Nye said.  

“Turkey can be the bedrock of stability for the region,” he said, adding that the country has always been extremely important as a hinge between European culture and Islamic culture in the Middle East.

“That’s been true for a long time. It remains true to this day. So I think Turkey is a country of great importance.”

Responding to a question on Turkey’s possible future roles, he said: “I think Turkey needs to be seen as an honest broker which can work with different countries.”

The U.S. and Turkey have to keep a good relationship, he added.

“The current with Turkish-American relationship is difficult and I hope that we will overcome this.”

The professor criticized the Donald Trump administration’s foreign policy for “undercutting its alliances.”

“I think Trump’s foreign policy has been a mistaken foreign policy because the strength of the U.S. lies in its alliances and the U.S. has alliances with 60 countries compare to China which has alliances with one country. Trump has made a mistake of undercutting our alliances, so I would argue that is the biggest fault in his foreign policy,” he said.

“He has been inconsistent in his foreign policy in the Middle East except for support for Israel and Saudi Arabia. But he has not had a consistent policy on Syria and I think he is making a mistake in undercutting the JCPOA Treaty on Iran,” Nye said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal.

The Sakıp Sabancı International Research Awards, a first international award given in social sciences in Turkey, will focus next year in sustainable environment, transportation and energy, according to Güler Sabancı, the board of trustees chair of Sabancı University.

Along with Joseph S. Nye, who received the international jury’s special prize, Cosette D. Creamer of Minnesota University, former Sabancı University graduate Kerim Can Kavaklı from Bocconi University, and Moria Paz from Georgetown University were also awarded for their articles.

Sabancı said they felt proud that the university successfully represents Turkey in world rankings and of the successes of its graduates, which would have also made Sakıp Sabancı, the late honorary chair of the school and her uncle, happy.

Joseph Nye,