Hypnosis at home, alienation from the world

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dominates the media landscape in Turkey.
Turn on the TV at any time, on any day, and it is likely that you will hear him using any opportunity to speak, in the run-up to the elections. Even when you deliberately avoid pro-government TV stations, which make up the majority of the media, you cannot escape from his messages played on public transportation. You only have to live in Turkey for a couple of days to realize that this campaign ambitiously seeks to hypnotize the entire nation with Erdoganand’s rhetoric.
Such zealous campaigning has resulted in the consolidation of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the de facto leader of which is still Erdogan. However, the hypnosis sessions at home have apparently impacted Turkish societyand’s perception of foreign policy.
A recent survey by Istanbuland’s Kadir Has University (KHU) has revealed the top priorities of the Turkish people, as I reported in an article titled and”Survey: Israel and US biggest threats for Turkey,and” published in Todayand’s Zaman on May 27. However, an unwritten finding that could be deduced from this survey seems more critical — that Erdogan, a successful agenda-setter, determines not only domestic debates but also shapes the nationand’s concerns regarding foreign policy. In other words, his domestic narrative has an impact on which countries the Turkish people see as friend or foe, significant or irrelevant, in matters of foreign policy.
For example, according to the survey, 45.5 percent of the people describe Turkey as an Islamic state, a number that is 8.5 percent higher than it was two years ago. Could this be unrelated to Erdoganand’s use of religion at rallies? The survey finds that Israel and the US are perceived to be the first and foremost threats against Turkey. Anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiments are traditionally high in Turkey, but you would have to be naive to disregard the role of Erdoganand’s use of conspiracy theories, implying that particularly these two countries form a and”superior mindand” that tries to undermine the rise of great Turkey, in such a perception. Consistent with historical patterns, almost 40 percent of the people believe that Turkey has no friends abroad.
Because the Syrian crisis seems to have been placed on the backburner by Turkeyand’s president and prime minister, compared to the attention paid to the conflict in its initial years, the Turkish people, similarly, do not consider Syria a priority. Only 20 percent of even the urban population, according to the sampling of the survey, sees Syria as Turkeyand’s primary foreign policy problem, despite the number of refugees flocking to Turkey and the rising threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Mainly because no leading politician from the ruling party even mentions the threat of ISIL on TV, or in rallies, less than the expected number of people, only 65 percent, consider ISIL a threat to Turkey. The threat of ISILand’s and”sleeper cellsand” within Turkey is probably debated more extensively abroad than it is in Turkey.
The fact that TV is the number one source of information (according to 86 percent of respondents) by which Turks learn about issues of foreign policy, as well as other subjects, also explains how and why, particularly Erdoganand’s narrative, determines popular understanding.
There has been a significant increase in the belief that the president should play a role in the making of foreign policy decisions. For instance, when a moderate and relatively impartial President Abdullah Gandul was in office in 2013, only 8.8 percent of the population said the president should contribute to matters of foreign policy, while this figure rose to 25.8 percent during the time, less than a year, that Erdogan has held the same office.
Erdogan openly admitted the and”lonelinessand” of Turkey a couple of months ago, though he explained this isolation by claiming that other countries are jealous of Turkey. In the survey, conducted in April 2015, when asked who Turkey should form allegiances with in matters of foreign policy, the highest number of people responded that Turkey should act alone. However, the high level of indecisiveness in certain areas, such as the issue of privileged partnership, hint that whoever has the means of communication could manipulate public opinion on issues of foreign policy.
Economic ties between the US and Turkey are usually considered a weak dimension, but the respondents cited it as the most important staple of bilateral relations. This response alone indicates that, as far as foreign policy is concerned, people do not necessarily form opinions based on facts.
Erdogan clearly knows how Turkish people make their decisions and how to capitalize on their emotions. His domestic hypnosis alienates his people from the world, impacting their understanding of foreign policy.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman