Soli Ozel at PostGlobal

Soli Ozel

Istanbul, Turkey

Soli Ozel teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University's Department of International Relations and Political Science. He is a columnist for the national daily Sabah and is senior advisor to the chairman of theTurkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association. He is the editor of TUSIAD's magazine Private View and the editor of the Turkish edition of Foreign Policy a journal published by the Carnegie Endowment in the USA. Close.

Soli Ozel

Istanbul, Turkey

Soli Ozel teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University's Department of International Relations and Political Science. more »

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November 5, 2008 3:28 PM

The Middle East's Passive Peacemakers

The Israeli/Syrian negotiations itself demonstrates a change in the regional status quo. The vacuum created by the United States has led all regional actors to scramble for ways to stabilize the region and protect themselves against the rising influence of Iran. If the term has not become an oxymoron yet, United States peace making will no longer be the determining factor in the Middle East

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August 12, 2008 11:24 AM

Re-emergent Russia a Reality

Even if the Russians wanted to have an empire again, they would not wish to run it directly. They will of course have influence on their neighbors, just as the United States does in the Western hemisphere. The brutality of the Russian response is a function not just of their own regained self-confidence thanks to oil and gas money, or of their propensity for dominance, but also of misguided Western -- particularly American -- policies. If the United States cannot control a two-bit client such as Saakashvili (who turned out to be no better than the person he replaced, Eduard Shevardnadze) and keep him from taking this utterly destructive step, then what good is American policy? Would any self-respecting power tolerate the kind of 'in your face' attitude the Russians were expected to digest? When the United States supported Kosovo's independence and recognized the government in Prishtina, did it not think what would follow next or listen to what Putin had to say?

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January 7, 2008 3:50 PM

The West Is Bleeding Moral Capital

If we must go by what is in the book, then there is really only one rape scene that is consequential and it has nothing to do with the Taliban. Hassan is raped by the neighborhood thug Assef, who later becomes a Taliban official and does the same thing with many boys, including Hassan’s son. The scene in the book is as much about Amir’s cowardice/jealousy/betrayal as it is about the rape itself.

Such incidents are not uncommon in all societies, not just Muslim ones. This is certainly not a particularly distinct Afghan pattern of behavior. The record is obviously mixed on how Afghans relate to homosexuality. It is a stain on one’s name in certain parts of Afghanistan and in some contexts – but just read Asne Seierstad’s book The Bookseller of Kabul and you’ll find that in certain parts of Afghanistan the boy lover is an institutionalized fact, with its own rituals and codes of behavior.

There is nothing surprising about the filmmakers’ underpayment of the actors, though it is obviously unacceptable and draws into question the standards of ethical behavior for the producers. Neither is their insensitivity to the consequences of filming the scene surprising (but then one must wonder why there was no outcry against the book’s author, since it is he who has produced the scene in his book). Insensitivity does not necessarily have to be because of malice, either.

But then again, the reaction points to a major problem that we will continue to face in the coming years and maybe the coming decades. The West has such diminished moral capital in the rest of the world these days that everything will be seen as part of a campaign to defame the non-Western – with particularly violent reactions in the Muslim world, which believes it is under mortal attack. Therefore anything that emanates from the West is condemned. The walls of cultural particularism are raised for bad reasons perhaps, but with some justification.

How do you then square this circle without falling into the trap of moral relativism? I honestly don’t know.




January 4, 2008 9:23 AM

Dear Candidates: Earn the World's Consent

The Question: The U.S. starts to choose a president this week. If you could send the candidates one message, what would it be?


The record of the Bush administration must have shown that however powerful the U.S. may be, it cannot shape the world in its own image. Nor can it treat the rest of the world with the callousness and conceit displayed during these last few years. As the uncontested and uncontestable absolute supremacy of the West over the last few centuries is gradually waning, and as technologies empower the weak as well, a sense of equilibrium will be needed in world affairs. The U.S. may still be the most important country in the world and many things just cannot be done without its commitment, cooperation or consent. But neither can the United States accomplish its policy goals without taking into account the genuine and legitimate interests, perceptions and preferences of other parties. In other words, it can do nothing without earning their consent.

It would have to create the conditions for peaceful inclusion of rising powers into the world system. Managing the world order through leadership rather than dictating rules and codes of behavior and questioning the kind of globalization that the Americans preferred are the priorities of the new era. And of course a little dose of humility, even if it is just of the make-believe kind, would go a long way toward re-ingratiating the United States to the world public. You have got a lot of repair work to do. Good luck.




October 17, 2007 10:15 AM

Politicians, Stay Out of Our History

The U.S. Congress has no moral authority to pass judgment on any other country’s history, particularly with its Iraqi invasion record in public view – nor does any other parliament or political body, for that matter. History cannot be legislated and politicians ought to stay away from trying to do so. It is not their duty.

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August 1, 2007 9:31 AM

It's About Modernization, Not Religion

The parliamentary elections in Turkey were a momentous event for a variety of reasons. The ruling AKP that has its roots in Turkey's Islamist movement and is the inheritor of a long line of Islamist parties has won in a landslide. For a causal Western observer reading ever simplistic reporting in the media, this can be cause for concern to the extent that this might mean a sad loss for secularism. But I see no reason to withhold the analytical tools we use for any other democratic election when analyzing those in Turkey. Therefore, the starting point ought to be that the elections in Turkey were not about the future of secularism in the country.

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July 23, 2007 11:20 AM

Interpreting Murder in Freud's New York

This summer, I am reading a delightful book both to escape and learn: Jed Rubenfeld’s "The Interpretation of Murder." It's about a murder and an attempted murder on the day Sigmund Freud first set foot in the U.S. accompanied by Carl Jung. You get a good mystery, engaging writing style, and you learn a lot about New York social life at the beginning of the 20th century -- not to mention the psychoanalysis, from Freud and Jung to Shakespeare. What more can one say?

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July 8, 2007 8:05 PM

Without Justice and Order, An Empire Cannot Rule

One can do without the mechanical comparisons and contrasts between Rome and America presented in the book. To compare and contrast two realities that are separated not just by centuries but also by the differences in conceptualization that these centuries represent can be misleading. As it is to ignore the ethical framework in which these empires, or any social or political reality, exists and bases its understanding of itself on. Murphy’s own presentation of the fates of the words “suffragium” and “franchise” already speaks volumes about the importance of context and meaning.

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April 27, 2007 12:08 PM

Turks Flirt with Picking Russia over EU

When Vladimir Putin made his hard-line speech at the February 10 Munich conference on security, the Turkish public got truly excited. Many saw in the speech the makings of a new Cold War, and this time around instead of fearing a rising Russia the sentiment was favorable towards Moscow – as a counterbalance to an arrogant, abrasive and in fact aggressive United States. In an unprecedented move, the Turkish general staff's website posted a Turkish translation of the speech.

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April 1, 2007 8:15 PM

Europe’s Immigrants Need Turkey

Whether Europe is the way of the future or a vestige of the past will be determined by what the Europeans do with their own people.

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