Geography and History Point to a Turbulent Future
By Andrew C. Katen
Last week’s failed coup in Turkey has led to diverse speculation about which direction the country will now take, and how this course will affect the region and world. The reality is that nobody seems to know exactly what happened or why, or what will come next. In fact, forecasting near-term political events is challenging because it involves predicting the thoughts and actions of individuals – human beings that are fickle, frequently unreasonable or irrational, and often influenced by the collective mentality of their tribe. Added to this difficulty is the level of secrecy that cloaks every elite body’s decision-making and which makes interpretation of their intentions all the more difficult. Simply put, nobody today knows for sure what will happen in Turkey over the coming days, weeks, or months.
Nevertheless, we can make some reasonable guesses about the long-term future of Turkey by understanding its geopolitical situation – that is, viewing the country in the context of its long history and enduring geography. We can identify deep-rooted forces that have shaped the country’s behavior and fate up until now, and whose influence will likely continue into the foreseeable future. While we do not have the benefit of a crystal ball, we can make sound assumptions based upon historical patterns and trends. There may be deviations along the way, but in the long run geopolitics usually wins out because of its defining trait: momentum.
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