Thursday, March 12, 2009

Security and the Global Economic Crisis: The Turkish Angle

David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington and a blogger on the Foreign Policy website, has an interesting post up about testimony he recently gave in front of the House Armed Services Committee. The subject of the hearing was "Security Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis."

Turkey is among the countries that Rothkopf warns could be dangerously destabilized by the global economic crisis. From his testimony [the full version can be downloaded from a link at the blog post]:
Beyond threats to stabilizing forces and the international system, individual countries and key regions are also likely to see decline and unrest brought on by the crisis. Some of this unrest is likely to take the form of regime changes or social instability. Other risks associated with the crisis will come as opportunists seek to use anger at the failures in a system that is closely associated with the U.S. to foment hatred, to fuel recruitment for extremist and anti-US organizations and to simply produce distractions from local problems via the time-tested means of identifying foreign or domestic scapegoats and lashing out against them.

In short, the international security environment is likely to deteriorate over the next several years both because of a great hollowing out and weakening of the stabilizing forces in the world as well as from the emergence of new, destabilizing factors....

....In the cases of Turkey, Egypt and Iran, economic vulnerability of the current regimes creates the possibility of major shifts in leadership or in the positioning of current leadership that might be problematic. A more fundamentalist government in Turkey, given that country’s strategic position, or a more aggressive stance from Turkey regarding either Israel (see the contretemps between the Prime Minister and Israel’s Shimon Peres in Davos) or the Kurds (to distract and stir up nationalist feeling) could shift the balance of power in the region in ways that would be most troubling for the U.S. and the West. Iran’s case is different. If oil continues to fall and the government is more strapped, it is possible that the current regime may see it as in its interest to stir regional confrontation for both populist reasons and because it may reflate the price of oil. (Alternatively, it may weaken the current regime creating the opportunity for a change and an opening for the U.S.) In Egypt, given the potential for volcanic unrest that could topple the comparatively moderate regime, the issues are similar to those in Turkey.

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