What a wicked game to play…: Turkey, Russia, and the obsolete NATO

dreamstime_l_13265318“1945-1990 – Russophobia
1990-2015 – Islamophobia
2015- ?? – Russophobia AND Islamophobia. 
Isn’t it time the MI Complex created a new bogey-man?” 
― Arindam Mukherjee

A couple of weeks ago, two Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian bomber near the Syrian border. It is unclear whether the collision happened over Syrian soil or Turkish soil. Anyway, normal procedures would have been for the Turkish army to redirect the Russian plane to other territories, not in any manner to shoot it down. Even so, Turkish Prime Minister Sir Davutoglu was fast to consult the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), complaining about his airspace having been violated and seeking reassurance that the alliance would stand by Turkey’s side.

These events were a wake-up call for observers to realise the implications of having Turkey as a NATO member as the situation in the Middle East is becoming increasingly fragile. Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which stipulates the core principles of the organisation, mentions that an attack on any member is an attack on all members. Any retaliation from Russia could potentially lead to a confrontation with the 28 members that form the alliance. In short, the world could see the start of WWIII as many commentators were fast to claim.

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Fooled by fear: ISIS, global risks, and the legitimacy of war


dreamstime_l_33695347“How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?” ― Howard Zinn

When the German sociologist Ulrich Beck came up with his concept of World Risk Society in the 70s, he probably didn’t forego how useful this term would be to policy-makers to analyse the world forty years later. Beck argued that modernity, after a period of industrialisation and progress, had reached a second phase where men were now dealing with the negative side effects of this industrialisation, such as terrorism and climate change. These risks, he argued, are global. They can reach everyone anywhere, are unlimited in time, and are therefore increasingly difficult to predict. These aspects, however, does not prevent society to try and put a lot of efforts in managing them, by taking all kind of preemptive actions. In short, the less you know, the more you act.

This notion of global risk quickly became seductive to policy-makers, as pictured by Donald Rumsfeld expressing himself in 2002 at the Department of Defense. Then Secretary of States of the United States, Rumsfeld talked about the potential link between the Iraqi government and terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda by using the term ‘unknown-unknown’ risk. Picturing it as unbounded, unlimited, and unpredictable, Rumsfeld argued that this global risk offered all the reasons to go and engage time, money and human energy in the Middle East, apparently. That way, he legitimated the American interventions that would follow in Afghanistan.

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