The fog of leadership: How Turkish and Russian presidents manage information constraints and uncertainty in crisis decision-making
AuthorÜnver, Hamid Akın
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Leaders choose to mislead their domestic peers when the political risk and cost associated with a particular foreign policy decision is too great and when the structure of the political system in question is too leader-centric to afford these costs being incurred by the leader. This article argues that risk uncertainty and imperfect information are not necessarily external unwanted or unforeseen factors in foreign policy decisions. In certain cases they too are instrumentalized and adopted consciously into decision-making systems in order to diffuse the political costs of high-risk choices with expected low utility by insulating the leader from audience costs. This dynamic can be best observed in leader-centric and strong personality cult systems where the leader's consent or at least tacit approval is required for all policies to be realized. This article uses two important case studies that effectively illustrate the use of deliberate uncertainty in decision-making in leader-centric systems: post-2014 Russia (War in Donbass and the annexation of Crimea) and Turkey (ending of the Kurdish peace process and the change in policy towards Syria).