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A Paradigmatic Shift for the Turkish Generals and an End to the Coup Era in Turkey

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Turkey has been undergoing major democratic transformations in recent years, but one issue remains in question: the role of the military. Have these democratic changes also included an irreversible, structural change for the Turkish military's political role? Are the Turks reconceptualizing their special bond with the armed forces and most importantly, is the military leadership ready to go along with this paradigm shift? This article first provides a typology of civil-military relations worldwide and identifies the main parameters of traditional Turkish civil-military relations as a system in which society maintains a direct, special bond with its military, keeping politics and politicians in a secondary position. It then suggests that this pattern is shifting into a more democratic one, in which society places its trust in politics, thus forcing the military into the secondary position. It then analyzes the discourse and policies of the last three Turkish Chiefs of Staff for evidence that the army is adapting into this paradigm shift. With the completion of this adaptation, Turkey may very well be leaving the coup era behind.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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