Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mission of the 2005 Almanac


Ümit Cizre•

The book you are holding in your hand happens to be the “first” Almanac ever to be published about the Security Sector in the history of the Republic. It is centered around the year 2005 and presents the reader with an account of the agencies within the Security Sector, their organizational features, declared and undeclared operational principles, activities, authority structures, legal framework they operate under, basic approaches they adopt, and the changes and bottlenecks they went through within the framework of full membership to the European Union which became a more realistic prospect since December 17, 2004. Essentially, this Almanac provides objective and reliable knowledge about Turkey’s security sector agencies in an analytical format to trigger interest and sensitivity on security, defense and strategy issues and agencies and help provide the background conditions for opening a public space for enlightened debate about these issues. Put it differently, the main concept of the Almanac is to enable the public to be informed about the vital issues and policies on threats, insecurity and security in order to help pave the way for a democratic political future we want to build.

In this Almanac, the four forces of the Armed Forces, namely Land, Air, Naval Forces and the Gendarmerie, the Police, the Coast Guard Command, Police and Gendarmerie Intelligence organizations, Special Operations Units, National Intelligence Organization, National Defense Council, security-related activities of Turkey’s Legislative and Executive branches, Military Judicial System, Village Guards, Private Security System, Civil Society-Security and Media-Security nexus are studied by experts based on objective data and in a dynamic and analytical framework in conjunction with current politics, history, international, political and strategic developments. A more detailed breakdown of the themes explored are as followsThe meaning and importance of the Almanac should first be explained through the research problematic it covers, namely, the “Security Sector.” This concept emerged as a result of two main security-related developments after the Cold War. 1994 Human Development Report published by the UNDP stated for the first time that insecurity, and therefore security, is not a process and requirement that can be met by military units carrying uniforms, weapons and hardware alone. The Report introduced the human security aspect that falls outside the scope of military considerations. Secondly, and relatedly, the need for interpreting “insecurity” and “security” in a broader sense started to arise.

Human security is a concept that transcends the “military”/ hard security of the “state” and links “insecurity” with lack of protection of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of people. In other words, human security is now seen as the natural part of “democratic governance” in terms of a government’s commitment to protecting all citizens including those that are defined in the modern political vocabulary as “minorities” from poverty, deprivation, injustice, violence, unequal treatment and conflict; and restructuring security units with these new security concerns in mind. Effective reform of the security sector requires that the security forces which have the legitimate authority to use force as well as the civilian bodies that carry out democratic oversight over these bodies should come to an appreciation that human rights, not the state rights are at the core of security sector reform.

As a country which, in the 1990s waged a fierce war against “domestic threats” with a more and more militarized strategy and refrained from including the “elected bodies”, civil society and media organizations within the process of formulating security policies, Turkey was left out of these new global trends and changes of the post-Cold War times. The systematic “reinvention” of Cold War security concept in the last decade helped rebuild the status quo and (re)legitimize the armed forces as the “guardians” of the regime. The securitization of every aspect of life became the priority, and as a result, human rights, quality and standards of life, welfare, peace and security failed to take root to replace the political fears. In that decade, in other words, Turkey failed to embrace a security approach that prioritizes the protection of a dignified, honorable and rights-driven individual life and enhances an understanding of state which has built-in democratic reassurances against the abuse and misuse of the legitimate authority of the state security forces.

All of this painful past history is true. However, as the most important “sine qua non” condition of the EU membership project that is not yet completed, Turkey’s security sector agencies will have to shed their old heritage which is based on military power and logic while responding to new threats that stem from extraordinary international and domestic changes. It is therefore correct to say that this Almanac is published “on time,” and at the right juncture to capture fundamental changes in threats, security, defense, foreign policy and insecurity. It hopes to be able to cultivate an inquisitive culture capable of “objecting” to what it considers wrongdoings regarding these sensitive issues judged by the objective information they receive from reliable referents. This is how the traditional “obedience” culture that engulfs the security environment can be removed.

What do we understand from the reform of security units? What kind of changes can this Almanac trigger? Security sector reform stems from a redefinition of security in line with new developments in the world after the Cold War era ended and rests on two legs: the first is the improvement in the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the police, armed forces, gendarmerie and intelligence units – to be able to fight against brand new threats, crimes, organizations, weapons and violence under the new circumstances. But even in enhancing the technical capacity of the security units, it is important that there should be no overlapping authority and interagency competition within the sector. The chapters in this volume on the police and gendarmerie amply demonstrate the corrosive effects of a problematic division of functions within the sector.

The second leg of security sector reform is the promotion of democratic accountability mechanisms of the sector to elected and non-elected civilian bodies. Focusing merely on the physical modernization component without paying any attention to the “democratic governance” aspect of non-technical ideas and perceptions amounts to rehabilitating security institutions physically by isolating them from the changes and new trends in the concept of security, public philosophies, political power configurations, concept of democracy and the transformations in the material world. The important thing is to reform on both fronts simultaneously to build a security structure that is more professional and result-driven while establishing democratic oversight venues as part of a broader intellectual project. The idea is not to strengthen the security spectrum at all costs but to fortify it in a way that encompasses the modern democratic priorities simply because, in this day and age, this is the meaning of “security”.

What we need is help build a public that is sensitized to, critical of and engaged in the debate on the principles, approaches, and policies of the security bureaucracy and retains a “memory” of security. This Almanac represents an important beginning in this respect by adopting a unique writing perspective that blends objective information with an analytical viewpoint. Researchers, members of the parliament, bureaucrats, experts, think-tanks, interested citizens, journalists specializing in security, students who want to write dissertations, reports, term-papers, books and articles on the subject are the targeted readership that will keep the security memory alive. By combining the empirical world with the world of analytical thought and providing clear, objective and analytical knowledge, the Almanac helps to create the nucleus of the next chain of references.

Democratic Civilian Control

The Almanac has another very important mission in opening the “Pandora’s Box” that contains the spectrum of security organizations which were, until now, considered to be an area of curiosity for the expert professionals rather than the ordinary citizens: it intends to contribute to the establishment of a democratic civilian contro/oversight over the security spectrum based on two main contemporary values: accountability and transparency. These principles emerged as a result of the transformation of the conceptualization and policies of security environment in the Western hemisphere in the post-Cold War times and, in turn, reshaped the discourse of the practitioners. During the Cold War, the traditional security wisdom regarded public’s views on security matters shallow, uninformed and unreliable and considered security as an area to be roughly overseen by the parliaments and executive organs. But the changing global realities of the last 20 years introduced society-, community- and citizen-centered considerations in the implementation of reforms conditioned by freedom-welfare-security nexus. A new consciousness, awareness and sensitivity started to dominate public philosophies. As expressed by Professor Anthony Forster, we became more and more aware that the factors labeled as threats by social groups are constructed through discourse. This awareness has led to a weakening of state-protecting rationale of security while creating more inquisitive and highly sensitized publics on the question of “who protects whose security”.

There is now a higher appreciation that when the civilian sector, parliament and media play an effective role in the definition of threats and making of public policies on defense and security, i.e. when the transparency becomes real and the channels of accountability are open, huge defence and security expenditures hidden behind the curtain of secrecy, irregular/illegal practices, and the unnecessary violence and corruption on the part of the sector will become visible. As Professor Robin Luckham, another prominent researcher in the field of Security Sector indicates, the problem of “democratic oversight” is not the mere implementation of civilian control over military and non-military units, it is inculcating the tradition of democratic accountability in the sector to end the persistence of military policies behind the formalities of civilian democratic governments.

Almost all international organizations (such as the European Union, NATO, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, United Nations Development Programme the European Council, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) have discovered that countries that are militarized in an uncontrolled fashion and breach human security cause instability both domestically and on regional and global scale and interrupt their own economic development. To support the foreign policy targets and benefits of the West, these organizations put forward as preconditions the restructuring of the security sector for those that are going through a membership process or require financial aid and credit. The sine qua non of this restructuring process is the involvement of multiple civilian players in the sector whose sensibility, knowledge and interest in the sector are enhanced through access to activities and publications of civil societal groups like this Almanac.

The Almanac presents the analytical information it contains to a security consumer who it hopes will do a new reading: one essential element in this reading is to shift the focus of research concern from a narrow to a broader domain, i.e., from civil-military relations to security sector. The research area which is termed as “civil-military relations” lacks explanation power in contexts like Turkey where the equation is characterized by imbalance that favors the military. The term “relations” can only apply if the playing field for both parties is democratically defined and leveled. Therefore, it is much more productive to use the broader concept that covers both the military non-military agencies and their interactive relations. Even if we accept that Turkey’s armed forces continue to play a prominent role in external as well as domestic security, we should recognize that security sector reform as a more comprehensive concept will increasingly occupy Turkey’s future democratization agenda together with “civil-military problematic”.

Turkey, on one hand, has made a commitment to considerably reduce the political role of the military in non-military realms to comply with the full membership requirements of the European Union. It is also correct to claim that contemporary security problems of non-military nature - poverty and deprivation, infringements of freedom of expression, mass/forced migration, conflictive politics of ethnicity and religious identity, organized crime, human trafficking, abuse of women and children—can not be resolved by the application of traditional military values, skills and belief system. TESEV is determined to make every effort to publish the Security Sector Almanac every year to contribute in the direction of enhancing the effectiveness of civilian oversight.

The inevitability of civilian role expansion also creates an opportunity for the civilian political class to regain its self-confidence, problem-solving ability, and its capacity to influence the destiny of the society. The critical point to be stressed here is this: The predominant role the Armed Forces plays in politics is a streak that feeds the weakness of civilian politics that has gained a sticky status in Turkey, as well as aggravating the vulnerabilities of non-military security units, chiefly the police. Although not in the short-run, it is conceivable that empowerment of the civilian power centers can help cure the arteriosclerosis of the political class in the long run and boost its “political efficacy”.

Finally, the Almanac promotes a new dimension of the principle of democratic civilian control: it acknowledges that the connection between the military and the civilians, or between the units such as the police, JİTEM**, MİT** and the sector made up of civil society-ordinary citizens-media-members of the parliament is no longer a mere superior-subordinate, subject-ruler relations. On the contrary, the term security sector implies an equal and dynamic interaction between many civilian centers and the military and non-military units of the security sector. There is more in the term, therefore, than meets the eye: it indicates an egalitarian relations of power so that the self-confidence of civilian and security sectors are matched; their communication can no longer be characterized as “monologue”; their debates are carried out from within the same “grammer” and “vocabulary”; and their conflicts, rivalry and struggles give way to collaboration and harmony.

In conclusion, the Almanac wants to achieve an original target: to remove the shadow of secrecy over the security institutions, present information on the security spectrum to the society in an objective and reliable fashion, and to create and serve domestic or foreign consumers of this very specific information. This endeavour has direct impact on power relations as well as on democratization programme. It would be fitting to sum up the mission of the Almanac by adopting the famous “paradox” put by Professor Peter Feaver: We say yes to the security provided by the security bureaucracy if we are safe also against this spectrum.

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