A Government Devoid of Strong Leadership: A Neoclassical Realist Explanation of Turkey's Iraq War Decision in 2003

Yılmaz S.

ALL AZIMUTH-A JOURNAL OF FOREIGN POLICY AND PEACE, vol.10, no.2, pp.197-212, 2021 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.197-212
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


This study deals with Turkeys Iraq War Decision that led up to the March 1 Parliamentary Motion Crisis in 2003 from the perspective of neoclassical realism, which analyzes the interaction between systemic and unit-level variables. The United States requested Turkey's collaboration in the war against Iraq. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government initially sought a peaceful settlement hut eventually decided to align with the United States. Systemic and structural factors made cooperation with the United States an imperative for Turkey, which may be classified as a secondary state in the regional context. While the domestic political environment was favorable for the Turkish government to reach such a decision, it was hindered by the Grand National Assembly of 'Turkey (GNAT). In this framework the study has two primary purposes. The first is to prove that in restrictive international environments where opportunities and threats are clear and the decision-making process is constrained by time, domestic divisions may matter in foreign policy and prevail over the systemic imperative, contrary to conventional expectations. The second is to demonstrate that in a restrictive international milieu, strong leadership, a factor underappreciated by neoclassical realists, is essential even for single-party governments, which are normally expected to have greater autonomy in democratic parliamentary systems, to formulate foreign policy.