Periodically we'll be interviewing Senior CEME Fellows to check in on their latest research, big questions they've been pondering and everything they're keeping an eye on in the world. Today we spoke with Arthur Sculley, Co-Chair of the "Turkey's Turn?" Conference.
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Interviewer: What are the questions that keep you up at night around your current research/focus of interest?
AS: My research is on Turkey and northern Iraq and I’m looking at Turkey’s foreign policy from the point of view of trade and commerce. Given my background in banking I go out and interview business people in Turkey and in seven countries surrounding Turkey. I used to ask all these questions as a banker, I am now doing this for Fletcher as a researcher and what I’m listening for are some lessons that we can all learn about why Turkey was so successful over the past decade economically.
It was, and probably still is, one of the most successful of the emerging market countries that went from financial meltdown in 2000-2001 to one of the prime countries cited as a great success story. I am trying to figure out how that happened, what lessons can we learn for other countries in the Middle East and in the region, and how commerce can help a country grow and create jobs. I’m all about jobs. I want to find out how we can help identify new opportunities for emerging market countries to create jobs and also to improve international relations with other countries in the region, and other religious or ethnic sects within the countries.
Turkey is the best example of any country in the world that has every issue that you could possibly imagine right on their front door. I see it as an incredible opportunity to listen, and surprisingly not that many people have done this. I believe that over the next several decades the world will judge countries by their ability to develop economically and to provide jobs, rather than by the size of their armies or what people call “hard power”. Military might will still be there and it will still be important to the extent that security is necessary, but I think of much greater importance will be economic development. I’m interested in talking to a diverse group of people so that I can look for patterns that would help other countries and other business groups develop economically.
Interviewer: What do you see in the developments and events around the world today that make your work relevant and timely?
AS: It is hard to come up with a country that is more connected than Turkey is right now. Given its position in Europe, because it’s a European country but a major portion of the country is in the Middle East, it is very connected to so many different countries both geographically but also ethnically, because there are many Turkic countries all the way to Western China through Central Asia and other parts of the Middle East. Turkey is a country that many people look towards to discover trends. It was an incredible model just two years ago. It’s very successful economically, it’s a secular country with an Islamic culture, and so it checks all the right boxes. Now it’s going through a very difficult period in the last year and becoming quite polarized so it’s not as easy a story and it has gotten much more complicated. But the fact is, Turkey is still Turkey and it still has a lot of momentum; it’s a country which still many people pay a lot of attention to.
Interviewer: Where do you see the greatest opportunities for impact for students who affiliate or work with IBGC?
AS: I think CEME is unique in that we are a group of Senior Fellows with a lot of experience, practical experience, academic experience and teaching experience. We all work on our separate areas, but we get together and share our stories and talk about how we can be working more closely together. For students that have working experience in emerging markets, particularly those that have an interest in economic development, it is an absolute mecca for them to be able to be a part of it and to work with, and meet with people in CEME. I probably have 30-40 former students from Fletcher that I am in contact with in one way or another, almost all by email. If they see something they know I’m interested in they’ll email me, and vice versa, because we’ve met in some part of the world. They are an incredible resource for me to have tentacles all around the world of people that are doing real things. We share ideas back and forth, so those relationships last long after they’ve left from Fletcher.
Interviewer: What is the most interesting book you have read recently?
AS: Why Nations Failed is a useful book. I’ve read several books on the financial crash of 2008-2009, which have been very good. I always read Foreign Affairs Magazine; I think that it is terrific. I am a member of Chatham House in London which is a think-tank, it’s like the CFR here in the US. They publish quite frequently reports which are available on their website, in my case on the Middle East which I generally find very helpful. I regularly look at pieces from Chatham House, CFR and Brookings Institution.