Ümit Cizre in her article “The Anatomy of the Turkish Military’s Political Autonomy” analyzes the characteristics of Turkish military after the 1980 military intervention. Cizre basically claims that Turkish Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri-TSK) enjoys a strong degree of autonomy and tries to determine the problems of Turkish democracy regarding civil-military relations in the last two decades in the country.
Cizre begins her article by explaining two different levels of measuring military autonomy. The first dimension is about the institutional autonomy of militaries and embodies a defensive goal concerning the protection of military autonomy from external effects. The second is on the political level and refers to the effect of militaries over other civilian institutions. According to Ümit Cizre, the first dimension covers only four duties: promotions, appointments and punishments of junior personnel, military education and doctrine and lastly, the military reform and modernization. The writer asserts that it is natural in a democratic regime for a military to fulfill these duties but Turkish military in her idea seems to pass this border and affects the civilian political space too. Meanwhile, Turkish military unlike militaries of some Latin American countries, Spain, Greece and Portugal, has never tried to destroy civilian supremacy in politics but made interventions when there are problems, conflicts in the working of a democracy in the country.
Cizre believes that in order to expand the scope of democracy in the country, Turkey has to make necessary changes in its constitution and legal code to reduce the military’s influence in politics. She says that 1982 constitution, which was arranged after 1980 military intervention, is not in conformity with a real democratic system. She criticizes the “Atatürk fetishism” of Turkish military and thinks that the traditional guardianship role of the military should end by making gradual reforms. She then focuses on the different institutions of Turkish democracy which are -in her idea- barriers for a healthy democracy. The first institution analyzed in the article is National Security Council (Milli Güvenlik Kurulu-MGK). She tells us how the powers of MGK and military’s role in it have increased by 1973 amendments and 1982 constitution. The second institution is the post of President of the Republic (Cumhurbaşkanı). Cizre claims that the 1982 constitution also increased the power of Presidency and tried to create a balance against the power of government. She then analyzes the Organization of Defense and explains what changes have made in the past to increase the power of the General Chief of Staff. Cizre then focuses on the military budget and criticizes the huge share of TSK from the budget. She also analyzes internal security and intelligence gathering as well as senior promotions in TSK.
Cizre concludes her article by stating that although TSK via 1980 coup d’état saved the country from a civil war; its guardianship position does not allow civilians to establish a healthy democracy. In her idea, 1982 constitution does not meet the necessities of a Western style democracy which Turkey makes good steps to reach it. Cizre asserts that limiting the power of the military by legal-constitutional changes is not an easy task and insufficient for a good-working democracy. The first task to be accomplished is to change the mentality of civilians who presuppose the dominance of military in politics. She says that civilians should rethink of the legacies of early experiences and work for a more democratic country. I should also mention here that the article was written in 1997 at a time when TSK made a softened intervention (“postmodern coup” in some authors’ analysis) to politics in order to suppress the rising Islamic movement in the country with Refahyol government. Cizre may think more optimistically after witnessing the changes made by the last two governments of the country after 2001 regarding the structure of MGK and the power of TSK. However, Cizre here fails to explain the conditions of Cold War period in Turkey and in the world which created convenient grounds for military interventions. I should mention here that Turkish military’s guardianship position was not a consequence of Kemalism or Atatürk legacy (there were no military interventions until 1960), but rather caused from the conditions of Cold War (1960, 1971, 1980 interventions took place during the Cold War).