Academic journal article Global Governance

Turkey's Contribution to NATO's Role in Post-Cold War Security Governance: The Use of Force and Security Identity Formation

Academic journal article Global Governance

Turkey's Contribution to NATO's Role in Post-Cold War Security Governance: The Use of Force and Security Identity Formation

Article excerpt

After the Cold War, NATO formulated its new role on the basis of broader political aims and new security objectives by assuming crisis management operations beyond its borders. This article argues from a constructivist perspective that keen Turkish involvement in NATO out-of-area operations constitutes a context of social interaction that has led to particular identities and certain security policy outputs for both. Turkey's participation in NATO's military operations as the sole Muslim ally, in the post-Cold War era, enabled NATO to build an identity as a global security actor in crisis management while Turkey's active role in these operations served to keep Turkey's sense of prominence in the protection of the universal values and, thus, its claim to Western identity. KEYWORDS: Turkey, NATO, use of force, identity formation, security governance.

CREATED TO PROTECT POSTWAR EUROPE FROM THE SOVIET THREAT, NATO remained essential for war prevention through deterrence throughout the Cold War. Along with this immediate aim, however, the allies consistently expressed their common commitment to pursue positive political goals in Europe such as "to live in peace with all governments and all peoples," "to seek solutions by peaceful means," and to support "peaceful change." (1) After the Cold War, having lost its original raison d'etre and faced with new security threats and risks, the alliance articulated its new role on the basis of such broader political aims and new security objectives by assuming crisis management and peacekeeping operations beyond its borders. As a result, ironically, an alliance like NATO, which endured the Cold War military challenge without firing a shot, has increasingly been involved in military operations outside of what is traditionally the NATO area. Such actions ranged from humanitarian interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo to collective self-defense operations against Afghanistan and, most recently, expanded to include a prodemocratic military campaign against Libya. In all these operations, Turkey has undertaken an active and significant role with its contributions.

In this article, we analyze the mutually constitutive role of Turkey-NATO relations in a use of force context, in building their respective security identities in the post--Cold War era. Rather than assuming pregiven shared strategic and security interests, we argue from a constructivist perspective that dedicated Turkish participation in NATO "out-of-area" operations constitutes a context of social interaction that has legitimized particular identities and certain security policy outputs. More specifically, we contend that Turkey's participation as a predominantly Muslim country in NATO's military operations in the post--Cold War era against states. in all of which there was a Muslim dimension, enabled NATO to build an identity as a security actor in crisis management--a role to which it aspired in order to keep its relevance in the aftermath of the Cold War.

As an extension of the main argument, we also argue that Turkey's active role in NATO's military operations as a dedicated ally has served Turkey by keeping its sense of prominence in the protection of the values of the civilized world; namely, the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law as indicated in the Preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty. Thus, insofar as Turkey keeps its security policy closely aligned with NATO in rhetoric as well as through actual policies such as burden sharing by active participation in military operations, we suggest that NATO membership and security policies will remain the key foundation of Turkey's claim to a Western identity in the post--Cold War era, especially in the face of subsequent frustrations with regard to European Union (EU) membership. However, one needs to make a distinction between the identity formations of NATO and Turkey in that, while for NATO this process through the use of force represents a transformation into a whole new role, for Turkey it constitutes a reinforcing element for its preexisting claim to a particular identity during the Cold War. …

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