These are very simple yet all the more so quite essential questions in my humble opinion when it comes to foreign policy and even more so when it comes to military forays into foreign countries across the border or overseas. The preponderance to pick up the military option from the foreign policy and/or national security policies tool box can as well be questioned within the same breath. This, can be summarized the “trigger-happiness” that became the rule and not the exception.

Furthermore, the above mentioned questions at the headline are not only valid but would also be considered as mandatory for any given parliament in any given democratic country. Remember how “to give a long and hard look” had become the buzzword of the day among decision-makers and DC circles at the time when the US invasion of Iraq had faltered. That approach had paved the way to, among others, Baker-Hamilton Report and to retired general Keane’s suggestions of adjustment in strategy which had proved beneficial for US national interests. 

True, Turkey’s neither Syria nor Libya military adventures can in real terms be compared to the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. neither in scope nor in content. Nevertheless, reasoning-wise it makes sense –to me at least. Why, because I would simply like to know how much is being spent out of taxpayer’s pocket? What is the ratio of these to general national expenditures?  How the play by play works in both Syria and Libya: How much is spent for what? How long these operations are planned or expected to continue?

I also sincerely wish that these and similar questions are repeatedly asked on and on by the opposition and that they are updated regularly. The end game remains unclear as well. We are in uncharted territory all right and then again we have no exit route either. Mission creep is the main evil to avoid in such international interventions yet that remains the evergreen battle cry for the Turkish armed forces (TAF). Some minds seem to be really after pulling a Hatay or TRNC out of Syria. Whereas in Libya, they seem to be after hitting a sort of a lucrative “jackpot.” 

By way of conclusion, as these lines were being written Russian defense and foreign ministers Mr. Shoigu and Mr. Lavrov respectively, were expected to land any moment on Sunday at now closed and decisively destroyed Atatürk Airport of yesteryear. Those armchair quarterbacks who dispense of their assumptions freely under the guise of rumours heard here and there had suggested that a probable Turko-Russian deal would have been reached between presidents Erdoğan and Putin relating to a Idlib-Tripoli give and take. Then the summit was abruptly cancelled in the last minute.   

On the ground in Libya, most oil fields and other surface facilities like refineries still remain beyond the reach of GNA forces effectively backed by the TAF. We are being told that Turkey needs to be on the ground if it wishes to sit at the table later. And that when the times get tough, the tough get going, so on so forth. But there is no convincing strategy and one would not be far off the mark if one dropped the “convincing” bit: There ain’t no strategy, full stop. There is instead an attempt to build a narrative. 

The most unfortunate bit is that the opposition buys into that attempted narrative and does not step forward with clear rational alternatives of its own. At the end of the day, Turkey can find itself of having accomplished the heavy lifting only to see the proverbial low hanging fruits being collected by others. The last moment cancellation of the Istanbul Summit may as well be the sign of first clouds on a presumably blue sky. The art of diplomacy is crafted along the centuries for these days. Alas, it is a craft on the way of extinction.