Burak Kadercan

Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy, Naval War College

I tend to write and express opinion about topics that are also related with my research and teaching interests. I have been interviewed and quoted by outlets such as TIME Magazine and Washington Post, as well as in numerous countries from Spain to South Korea.

Please note that the views expressed here or elsewhere are my own and do not reflect those of the Naval War College, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Below are some previous pieces. For updates please check my home page (links to outlets will take you to my up-do-date pieces) or follow me on Twitter @Kadercan_Eng

Burak Kadercan @WarOnTheRocks

3 Huge (And Dangerous) Myths about ISIS (August 2015)


"Undermining the legitimacy of an opponent can be a key to success, but only if we have a somewhat accurate assessment about the sources of such legitimacy. Otherwise, we, as analysts, will be patting ourselves on the shoulder after every supposed “blow” dealt to ISIS’s legitimacy and appeal, only to be puzzled [again] when we find out that the organization is still alive and kicking.​"

What's Eating Turkey: Ankara and the Islamic State (July 2015)


​"The more Turkey does to degrade ISIL, the more powerful the YPG and PKK will become. Meanwhile, targeting the PKK could end the peace process for good, potentially fueling tensions in a country that is polarized on both ethnic and political fault lines. For Ankara, the ISIL crisis is not merely a crisis about ISIL. Turkey needs to tackle ISIL in the midst of numerous long-term domestic and regional challenges."

The Method Behind the Islamic State's Madness  (April 2015)


My take on the Islamic State and the "real" threat it poses to the regional security. The essay also introduces, in somewhat crude form, what I refer as the "territorial logic of the Islamic State."

The piece was originally intended to be a critique of ​The Atlantic article "What ISIS Really Wants" (Woods). For my criticism of that piece, which can also serve as a prelude to "The Method," click here.  

- For an abbreviated version in German, check Die Logik des Barbarismus from ipg-journal

The Gezi Park protests illustrate the fall of the military as a political actor in Turkey

"The summer of 2013 was a remarkable episode in the ever-unpredictable story of democratisation in the Middle East, especially in the context of civil-military relations. Not surprisingly, the Egyptian case has attracted much of the attention. As hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets to criticise Mohammed Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party for its increasingly autocratic and “Islamic” posture, the Egyptian military under General Sisi toppled the government, suspending the constitution. The subsequent protests by the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were crushed violently by security forces, fuelling a series of tragic events that claimed the lives of many. For lack of a better word, the future of Egyptian democracy looks bleak. And the armed forces will most likely play a very important role in that future."

Emerging ‘Unipolarity’ in Turkey’s political landscape

"During the course of the summer protests, many analysts, scholars, and public intellectuals alleged that the Gezi Park protests had changed Turkish politics for good and for the better. They were most certainly right about the former conclusion but most likely wrong about the latter, for the Gezi episode was merely the symptom of a problem, that is, Turkish democracy’s gradual slide into more and more authoritarian territory. Put bluntly, many spectators mistook the symptom of the disease for recovery, or even a cure..."

Turkey’s ongoing protests may yet lead to a backlash from the government’s supporters and a new ‘Turkish winter’

​"The ball is now in Erdoğan’s court. With the right move, Turkish democracy will shed yet another one of its old habits — in this case, the tendency of powerful political parties to drift into populism-fuelled authoritarianism. With the wrong move, the hazy days of May and June may pave the way for a long and harsh Turkish Winter. Erdoğan may choose to step on the brakes, which will require him to revise his discourse and policies but will also allow him to keep the image of a rising and democratic Turkey alive and kicking. The real challenge for him is to resist the temptation of playing down and repressing the symptoms that are now revealing themselves all over Turkey through the same mindset that has caused the problem in the first place."

The Duke of Hazard? Causes and consequences of Turkey’s Middle East policy

"... As marginal as it may seem at the moment, the key to addressing the resultant tensions is the health of Turkish democracy. To be fair, if Turkey moves toward a more pluralist vision of democracy, the extant challenges that Turkish foreign policy faces in an increasingly unstable region will not go away; but they may be approached through more constructive and realistic frameworks. If AKP keeps sliding further into the discourse of the “fifty percent,” it is very likely that the Turkish government will create more and more demons both at home and abroad, which will only add to the current problems... What happens in Turkey no longer stays in Turkey. Western audiences are better off paying attention to Turkey’s slide into a majoritarian understanding of democracy now, as opposed to sometime down the road when it may be too late."

Turkey’s Gezi Park episode is far from over

​"Paradoxically, Gezi Park presented Erdoğan with a golden opportunity, one that could also have helped Turkish democracy part company from the tendency of powerful political parties to drift into populism-fuelled authoritarianism."