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Rise of Think Tanks: Foreign Policy and National Security Culture in Turkey

In the recent decade, the number of think thanks in Turkey skyrocketed. Those numbers should not cause overexcitement since along with the serious think tanks many others consist solely of a catchy name and an internet website. Indeed, the think tank sector is a fledgling one in Turkey. The position of think tanks in the policymaking process has not yet been consolidated. They do not have billion dollar budgets as their counterparts in Europe and the Americas. Thus, they mostly do not have the ability to recruit fulltime researchers that allocate their priorities according to their research agenda. Along with these problems, their reputation is not as well established. Since the think tank culture is new in Turkey, some people are questioning their value and influence, while others are more cynical about their purpose and international links. 

 

In the recent decade, the number of think thanks in Turkey skyrocketed. Those numbers should not cause overexcitement since along with the serious think tanks many others consist solely of a catchy name and an internet website. Indeed, the think tank sector is a fledgling one in Turkey. The position of think tanks in the policymaking process has not yet been consolidated. They do not have billion dollar budgets as their counterparts in Europe and the Americas. Thus, they mostly do not have the ability to recruit fulltime researchers that allocate their priorities according to their research agenda. Along with these problems, their reputation is not as well established. Since the think tank culture is new in Turkey, some people are questioning their value and influence, while others are more cynical about their purpose and international links. 

Nevertheless, the reports and analyses of these think tanks have the ability to chart out the direction of debates in Turkey. The in-depth information and recommendations of these think tanks dominate the debates since most universities in Turkey are not interested in policy recommendations and the bureaucracy is unable to be critical. Despite their shortcomings, the think tanks in Turkey are pretty much performing activities similar to their counterparts in Europe and the Americas. They are also influential, especially in foreign policy issues and internal problems that need new perspectives and viewpoints informed by social science theories. 

Then how can we situate the think tanks in Turkey’s current context and to what ex- tent are think tanks influential in Turkey? The Rise of Think Tanks: Foreign Policy and National Security Culture in Turkey, written by Bülent Aras, ŞuleToktaş and Ümit Kurt, unravels this complicated picture of think tanks in Turkey. The book is published in report format. Bülent Aras is currently the head of SAM, the official think tank of the Turkish Ministry of Forei

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