Mr. Seth Cropsey
Seth Cropsey is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He served as a naval officer for nearly two decades and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. He is the author of the recently published MAYDAY: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy.
Questions and Answers
(This interview was conducted before the Iran nuclear deal)
1) Q: How do you think that the elections’ result in Turkey will affect the future US-Turkish and Israeli-Turkish relations? Do you believe that there is a chance to emerge a more moderate regime in Turkey and how this will affect the cooperation among these states after the Obama presidency?
Answer: Erdogan is a smart and ruthless politician. He has demonstrated the ability to divide and manipulate political opponents in the past. I expect him to use the same tactics today. The question of a more moderate regime lies in the hands of those who oppose him and want a more moderate Turkey. But even if they can unite they will face a man who thinks of himself more as a sultan than the leader of a government that is responsible to its citizens. Sultans can imprison unjustly, repress the media, build palaces, and rig the judicial system—as Erdogan has. If they can do that they can also crush political opponents.
2) Q: Natural gas prices are expected to stay in low levels for the next 4-5 years due to the decrease in demand from Asia and Europe and the higher world supply. Could these conditions cause the “freeze” of exploration and development projects in the Eastern Mediterranean until the prices go higher? If not, which do you think that is the most viable and attractive solution for the exploitation of these fields?
Answer: The Middle East is increasing unstable. Commerce requires stability. Cyprus and Israel are stable democratic states with significant energy fields. Agreements with the Egyptians are sensible because Egypt is relatively stable. This could change overnight. The best way to exploit the ongoing energy discoveries is to provide for their exploitation among democratic states.
3) Q: In your opinion, which will be the political conditions in Egypt for the upcoming years? Can Sisi stabilize the country or do you see the return of the Muslim Brotherhood? What is the scope of US foreign policy against this matter?
Answer: Sisi can stabilize Egypt. But the MB has not gone away and they will not stop trying to take over the country. Sisi does not have an easy job ahead. US foreign policy has been all over the political map in the Middle East since what was then called “the Arab Spring.” No one uses this term anymore. We will have to wait to see if a new American president believes that US engagement in the Middle East is as important as President Obama’s predecessors did. If so, I expect that U.S. policy will turn away from Iran and move back toward smooth relations with Israel and the moderate Gulf States.
4) Q: As long as the Iranian, the Ukrainian and the Syrian issues remain still open, do you believe that there is a chance of finding viable solutions to these matters? What possible form these solutions may take?
Answer: There may not be a chance for viable solutions in any of the places you list. But there is the possibility that US policy can limit and in some cases reverse damage. Arming the Kurds and moderate Syrian opposition; refusing to sign any agreement that allows the Iranians to continue their nuclear weapons program; and assisting Ukraine to prevent a Russian takeover would be a good start.
5) Q: Do you think that the war against ISIS will bring together in the same front US, Russia and other powers, or the Ukrainian issue, the new BRICS’ bank and the project for the Turkish Stream pipeline will lead us to a new Cold-War era? Finally, are we heading towards a new multipolar system and which will be the role of the Eastern Mediterranean States on such a possible development?
Answer: The current US administration is not serious about defeating ISIS. The “up to” 450 military advisors that President Obama said he would send to help the Iraqis defend against ISIS cannot alone turn the tables against ISIS. Those advisors are intended to demonstrate to the American public that the current US administration is doing something about ISIS. As for a new Cold War era, I don’t believe that the old one ended. Tension and strategic rivalry are permanent characteristics of international relations. The West’s former opponent (the USSR) sought hegemony on the Eurasian continent and masked this under a political system, communism, in which only the silliest of its rulers actually believed. The new Russian ruler is more like Louis XIV or the early Roman emperors. They just want power. This causes tension with states whose peoples would like to be left alone. This is a permanent condition.
* Τη συνέντευξη την επιμελήθηκε η ομάδα του Τομέα Ρωσίας – Ευρασίας και Νοτιοανατολικής Ευρώπης (ΤΟ.ΡΕ.ΝΕ), για τη μελέτη «Ελλάδα, Κύπρος, Αίγυπτος και Ισραήλ: Μια δυνητική συμμαχία στην Ανατολική Μεσόγειο». Η συνέντευξη έγινε στις 17/6/2015.