We have talked to Turkish geostrategist Ferit Temur about his hypothesis, covering the covert warfare between the US and the UK on a global scale and arguing that Turkey should adopt a “balancer of balance” policy by changing the paradigm in its foreign policy. | Interview by Turan Altuner
In an interview of yours, published recently, you stated that Turkey should play the role of the “balancer of balance” in foreign policy. Could you explain to us what you mean by the “balancer of balance”?
F. T. | We can say that international relations have always continued within a certain balance of power throughout history. Today’s international relations, on the other hand, have taken on a chaotic format since the “American unipolar” world order that has emerged after the Cold War lacks solid foundations and is incompatible with the existing power balances between countries.
In this process, the US has pursued the goal of establishing a Washington-based global hegemony to turn the collapse of its rival, the Soviet Union, into an opportunity and has made a series of military, political and economic moves in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central Asia regions, defined as the wider Eurasia. On the other hand, players such as Russia, China, England, India, and Iran are carrying out a series of overt and covert geopolitical moves against Washington in certain issues and regions, as they see the US domination of the world as a threat to their national interests. This multidimensional and equational conflict of interest has created the current chaotic environment in international relations that has been going on for a while.
Although there is currently a trend shifting from the West to the Asia-Pacific in the global economic-political balance of power, and a new multipolar world order is observed, the new equation has not been fully established yet. Therefore, I believe that an urgent paradigm shift in foreign policy is needed to minimize the high risks of such a painful transition period and to take the right position in terms of our long-term strategic interests in the new world order that will emerge.
What I mean by the “balancer of the balance” paradigm is a new foreign policy approach that correctly analyzes the current complex and chaotic structure of international relations and blends this analysis with a multilateral, multidimensional, and parameterized high policy in line with our long-term strategic interests based on our geopolitical codes. In other words, a new foreign policy perspective developed or to be developed with a Turkey-centered perspective, based on the awareness of national interests in a real sense.
To summarize, from theoretical to practical, to adopt bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the UK, Russia, China, Iran, India, and some other actors acting against the US policies based on a unilateral projection of interests in certain issues and regions. And while doing this, adopting and putting into effect a non-linear, covert form of campaign that will not, as far as possible, directly confront the US. On the other hand, to have the flexibility and sets of foreign policy that can act together with an actor like the US against possible risks that may arise from actors such as China, Russia, and Iran. I believe that it is extremely important to analyze especially the “cousin conflict” between the US and the UK and its reflections on our geography correctly, which is not really known or processed in Turkey.
So, isn’t it quite difficult to implement this “balancer of the balance” approach in Turkish foreign policy that you put forward?
Of course, this is not a foreign policy that can be carried out with the current Islamist politicians and their unqualified cadre, who lack strategic thinking ability, state administration experience, the notion of diplomacy and intelligence. It can be argued without a doubt that under the current political government, Turkey has experienced the weakest period in foreign policy in the history of the republic.
Therefore, to display such a sensitive foreign policy mastery, first of all, it is necessary to change this incompetent political mentality that has hit our national interests and brought our international reputation to the lowest level. Then our institutions and organizations that affect the foreign policy decision-making and implementation process must be radically transformed per the requirements of the age, from top to bottom…
Only after this change, the aforementioned paradigm shift in foreign policy can be achieved with a professional staff consisting of experts in their fields, who think Turkey-centric. In fact, such a strategic vision is not a flight of fancy for the Turks, who have a centuries-old tradition of state administration that spread over the Afro-Eurasian hinterland, which is a large geographical area of the world, and which has managed to rise from its ashes after the First World War. The main problem is the systematization of disorder in Turkey and the collapse of the country in all aspects under the 20-year rule of the current Islamist politicians. Of course, we need to get out of this collapse first.
What is the basis of your claim of conflict of interest between the US and the UK, which you call “cousin conflict”? Because such a claim is not a topic that comes up very often.
F. T. | First of all, I am not sure whether I was the first one using the phrase “cousin conflict” without realizing it, or if I read it in another source and this term stuck in my mind.
However, I would like to state that I have realized this geopolitical covert struggle waged by the UK against the US after analyzing my long-term readings/research on international relations between the Soviet Union/Russia and the West, and I have understood that Turkey is in the middle of this conflict of interest.
In short, to explain this hypothesis through some concrete historical events, it is possible to attribute the root of the issue to the weakening of the global power of the UK after World War II and the emergence of the US as a potential power instead. From then on, we see the British establishment gradually adapting itself to new international conditions and preferring the covert method of campaigning from behind the scenes. It is possible to detect the secret policies of the UK in many important events, from leaking the secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union to limit the global military power of the US, which was the only country with an atomic bomb, to the Baathist regimes “articulated” to the Soviet Union against the risk of the new geopolitical design of the USA in MENA region.
In the case of Turkey, to give tangible examples… In the Cyprus issue, while the US advocates a reconciliation between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island and a jointly integrated administration model with the EU, the UK advocates the continuation of the disputed status quo. By doing this, the UK with military bases in Cyprus, which has a unique geo-strategic importance in the Mediterranean basin, is trying to prevent the US from settling there militarily. Likewise, it also opposes the unconditional articulation of Turkey to the US’ Iraq and Syria policies and the redesign of regional equation formed after World War II by Washington in line with its interests. As a matter of fact, this conflict of interest between the US and the UK in the Middle East has brought the UK-Turkey-Qatar axis against the US-Israel-Saudi Arabia-UAE axis. It is also possible to examine another extension of this “cousin conflict” in the Middle East which, includes Turkey, in the Kurdish issue as well as the Fetullahist organization.
While the US supported the political reconciliation efforts, which entered the Turkish literature as the “peace process” in Turkey, the British establishment did not actually support it. Because, it is a priority need for the US to focus on PKK and its branches in Syria, which are the elements of the armed Kurdish separatist movement, to weaken the central governments in Iraq and Syria under the control of Washington at full capacity and to empower them in the autonomous geo-strategic line parallel to the Turkish border instead of them being in a military conflict with Ankara. However, in terms of the UK’s national interests, it is not acceptable for the status quo to be disrupted in the region by another power.
As a matter of fact, one of the concrete examples of this is the fact that despite all the efforts of Tayyip Erdoğan, who acted in line with the US during the March 1 (in 2003) resolution process, the aforementioned resolution did not pass the Parliament, as the group aligned with the British Establishment within the AKP and led by Abdullah Gül wanted.
Again, when the Fetullahist organization, founded by the CIA on the grounds of “fighting communism” during the Cold War period and was given the task of breaking Russia’s influence in the former Soviet countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union, gained a serious power in favor of the US with the AKP government in Turkey and when the UK supported Erdogan during the treacherous coup d’état on July 15 attempt provided a heavy blow against perhaps the most successful widespread spy ring in the history of the CIA. Similarly, unlike the US, the UK does not want Turkey to become a full member of the European Union.
Finally, we can argue that this conflict of interest between the US and the UK also has a global dimension and that the British establishment against American unipolarity is in unspecified cooperation with China and Russia on certain international economic and political issues. We observe that the British establishment is so determined in this new global-scale strategy that they do not tolerate even the simplest Russian-American rapprochement, which will complicate their plans. If you notice, at a time when the last Putin-Biden meeting was likely to keep high-level diplomatic channels open and to reduce the tension between the US and Russia, the British navy’s HMS Defender entered the Crimean coast via the Black Sea, causing a new controlled crisis between NATO and Russia.
It is very interesting… However, the UK is not a country that is mentioned very often with the findings and claims you put forward here. On the contrary, the names of the US, Russia, and China are mostly mentioned in the international power struggle. What do you attribute this to?
F. T. | To the British style based on the British “intelligence mind”. We can say that the British establishment, whose global power weakened with World War II, both learned the necessary lessons from the results of the past two world wars, which were direct examples of hot war, and acted more professionally to use its weakened opportunities in foreign policy in the most efficient way.
I don’t know how to formulate it, but I think it wouldn’t be wrong if I tried to define the British style as follows: a strategic mind that creates an equation by placing multiple parameters in a complex, articulated network within a highly sensitive and well-calculated framework, and succeeds in masterfully concealing itself in this equation. A school that has the competence and mastery of using the “Russians”, “Chinese”, “Turks”, “French”, “Iranians”, “Arabs”, “Greeks” etc. against the US on conflicting issues in the international arena. This is definitely a very professional and commendable mastery…
If the UK is in a covert conflict against the US, as you claim, then what is London’s global goal? Reclaiming the global leadership role it lost to the US after World War II?
To fully answer your question, it is necessary to be an expert on the British economy and future projection, on which my knowledge is very superficial. However, when I look at it from a foreign policy perspective, I can deduce that the UK has developed its own grand strategy in parallel with the US making a series of new geo-strategic moves to consolidate its dominance in the wider Eurasia, citing the infamous attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. In the face of the risk of developments of the Arab Spring changing the status quo, which arose after the World War II in favor of the US, it is not surprising that the UK put into practice a number of important decisions, including Brexit.
Here, I think, rather than regaining the global leadership role it lost to the US, British establishment aims to become an independent “pole” in the multipolar new world order that is being formed following the shift of the orbit of the global economic-political plane to the Asia-Pacific region by re-strengthening their position in its historical sphere of influence, which is called the Commonwealth. An article published in Yeni Şafak newspaper on March 13, 2017, by Richard Moore, the former Ambassador to Turkey, now MI-6 Director, “fostered” by the British establishment and whom I find tremendously successful if I might add humbly, also supports my making this inference.
If we go back to the beginning, you consider the UK’s re-inclusion in the “Great Game” positively for Turkey, right?
F. T. | In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the UK has always been a part of the “Great Game” for the last 200 years, or even the leading actor. Unlike the Cold War era, perhaps due to the conditions dictated by the international developments of the last 15-20 years, it is time for the UK to play a more prominent and visible role. And we can say that this renewed foreign policy attitude of the UK is largely compatible with Turkey’s long-term national interests. Because policies towards the Middle East region by the US, trying to create areas of “controlled crisis” in the wider Eurasia, especially in a way that will neutralize Beijing’s “One Belt One Road” geo-economic project to protect its global economic, political and military superiority, to hinder the rise of its long-term rival China creates a national security risks for Turkey.
Even if the current incompetent political power falls, which has brought about the weakest foreign policy period of the history of the republic, Ankara’s own national power capacity does not allow it to fight a global actor like the US alone, as the weakness created will not be able to be repaired in the short and medium term.
Therefore, it is in our interest to continue our cooperation with the UK against the hegemony of the US, where our interests coincide in matters such as preserving the past status quo in Cyprus, Iraq, and Syria. In this sense, we can prioritize developing not only bilateral but also multilateral and dimensional relations with the UK by taking part in the Commonwealth formation.
On the other hand, we can argue that it is a necessity for our long-term strategic interests to develop our bilateral relations with actors such as Russia, Iran, India, China, Japan, and multilateral relations with non-Western supranational organizations such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS.
This way, if the Asia-Pacific-oriented development and institutionalization of Turkish foreign policy are supported by the British-oriented Commonwealth within the framework of the “grand strategy” that we will create in line with our long-term national interests based on our geopolitical codes, we can argue that we will establish a more respectable and balanced relationship based on mutual benefit for Ankara with the US and the EU in the next 10-year period.
Thus, I define such a foreign policy paradigm as the “balancer of the balance” to be developed within the scope of the correct analysis of the power struggle between global and regional actors.
Thank you very much for the interview and for your time.
Who is Ferit TEMUR?
As a Senior Policy Analyst for Russia & Eurasia, Mr. Temur has been interned and worked in different think tank or state organizations in Turkey in the field of “Russian-Eurasian” affairs. He also worked abroad in different countries as a diplomatic staff of Republic of Turkey. He completed his undergraduate education at the department of Russian Language and Literature of Gazi University and his master’s degree at the Security Science Institute of Turkish Police Academy. He continues his PhD studies in the Department of International Relations at the Diplomacy Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. He is an author of over 80 analyzes, articles, reports and interviews published in different languages such as Turkish, Russian, English and Georgian. Additionally, he has book studies as “20. Asrın Casusluk Şebekesi: Cambridge Beşlisi” (Cambridge Five: The Espionage Network of the XX. Century), In Turkısh, Ankara: Hitabevi Yayınları–2014 and “Yükselen Asya’da Şanghay İşbirliği Örgütü: Dünü, Bugünü ve Yarını” (The Shanghai Cooperation Organization In Rising Asia: Past, Present and Future), In Turkish, Ankara: The Institute of Strategic Thinking-2015. His areas of specialization: Turkish Foreign Policy, Russian Foreign and Energy Policy, Russian State and Ethnic Structure, Political Structures & Energy, Security and Foreign Policies of the Caucasus and Central Asian States, Interstate Regional Formations in Eurasia, Intelligence Theory & Diplomatic Intelligence.