Virtuous power new defense doctrine: Turkish president

Virtuous power new defense doctrine: Turkish president

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Virtuous power new defense doctrine: Turkish president

Turkey should ‘put its house in order’ if it aims to become a ‘virtuous power,’ Preisdent Abdullah Gül says, adding that an advanced democracy does not simply mean the reflection of the majority’s will after elections.

Turkey needs to revise its defense concept so that it can act as a “virtuous power” in one of the most turbulent regions in the world, President Abdullah Gül said yesterday.

“Political, economic, social and cultural factors have increasingly become a part of the safety equation. These parameters, named ‘soft power,’ have been added to ‘military power,’ leading to the concept of ‘smart power,’” Gül told a group of ranking officers at the War Academy in Istanbul.

Gül said Turkey’s new defense doctrine should be based on acting as a “virtuous power,” recalling medieval Arab philosopher al-Farabi’s “virtuous society” and “virtuous city” concepts.

“A ‘virtuous power’ cares not only about the military and political dimension of security, but also the justice and human values side,” Gül said. “What I mean is, objectives should be achieved by mutual cooperation, not by imposition. It is a power concept in which every step is tested in terms of human dignity and happiness.”

As part of the new concept, security must be ensured not against the will of others but in cooperation with them, he said.

“Even though it looks more difficult and tortuous, this is the power concept that suits our country,” he said. 

Gül said the Turkish Armed Forces was now one of the fundamental pillars of Turkey’s foreign policy. “There are efforts to turn the instability in our neighbors into a new ‘Cold War scene’ where regional and global power fights are rehearsed. Turkey has no luxury of watching from a distance in such circumstances. Hence, diplomatic activism and military preparation is not an option but a must for Turkey,” he said.

The Arab Spring has knocked down “walls of fear,” with people in the region revolting “not only for their righteous demands but also to regain their national pride and dignity, which have been long repressed,” Gül said.

“These people’s movements have disappointed both the ‘political Orientalists,’ who claimed Islam was not compatible with democracy, and the ‘cultural relativists,’ who deprived people of human rights, democracy and gender equality under the notion that ‘we belong to a different culture,’” Gül said.

The shift of the global power center to the Asia-Pacific region was not only economic but also military and strategic, Gül said. “Led by the United States, many countries have adapted their defense concepts and command structures to the new strategic conditions. It is strongly possible that a new balance of forces based on the harmony of major powers such as the U.S., the European Union, Russia, India, Brazil and Turkey will emerge in the first quarter of the 21st century,” he said.

Nowhere is the “far side of the world,” since all issues around the globe are linked to each other and the consequences of every action are felt directly or indirectly in different parts of the world, the president said. “From asymmetric threats to ethnic tensions, from the movement of capital to the competition over energy resources and unjust income distribution, from climate change to poverty, food security and epidemic diseases, many issues should be taken into consideration on a global scale.”

Gül said it was essential for Turkey to implement comprehensive defense reforms accordingly.

The reforms should focus on increasing the joint operational ability of the three forces, cutting spending that does not contribute to the Armed Forces’ efficiency, increasing the proportion of combat troops in the military, raising the quality of the army by making use of the developing opportunities in the economy and the Turkish defense sector, as well as using local facilities as much as possible in procurement policies, Gül said.

Putting house in order


Turkey should “put its house in order” if it aims to become a “virtuous power,” Preisdent Abdullah Gül said yesterday during a speech at the War Academy in Istanbul.

“Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s ‘Peace at home, peace in the world’ phrase has always guided both our security policy and foreign policy. The most effective way to ensure peace at home is to turn our country into a first class democracy,” he said.

Democracy is not only about the will of the majority, Gül added. “I want to emphasize that an advanced democracy does not simply mean the reflection of the majority’s will after elections. An advanced democracy is a regime in which fundamental rights and freedoms are preserved on the grounds of the rule of law, which has a break and balance system in terms of all institutions within the constitutional system, in which justice prevails without any delay.”

The link between security and democracy is an issue everybody should sensitively emphasize, according to Gül. “At present, one can neither speak about security without democracy, nor a real democracy without security. It is very important to separate our citizens who voice their demands within the democratic system, without resorting to violence from those who are tied to terrorism.” 

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