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Making Turkey Great Again

Soner Cagaptay

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Fletcher Forum of World Affairs

Winter 2019


Given the numerous risks that lie ahead, it remains to be seen if Erdogan can deliver his country back to safety, let alone to greatness.

The following is an excerpt of an article originally published by the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. To read the full article, download the PDF.

Since coming to power in 2003, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attempted to make Turkey great again—in the mold of the Ottoman Empire that ruled over three continents before declining in the eighteenth century. In many ways, Erdogan has simply followed in the footsteps of previous leaders who attempted to reassert Turkey’s grandeur in the wake of the empire’s collapse at the end of World War I. His methods, however, have diverged from theirs, aligning less with the tradition of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and late Ottoman sultans. In his attempt to reestablish Turkey as a great power, Erdogan has made a radical break with the Western foreign policy consensus—which had been the foundation of Turkey’s international relations strategy since Ottoman decline. As a result, he has left Turkey encircled by enemies, isolated from allies, and far from greatness...