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CISSM Global Forum | Who is Truly an “Ally” and When? Evidence from an Elite Survey Experiment in the U.S.

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Sibel Oktay

Dr. Sibel Oktay, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois, Springfield and a Nonresident Senior Fellow of Public Opinion and Foreign Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Registration for this event is not required but is appreciated (for planning purposes).

Students and faculty interested in joining Sibel Oktay for a post-talk chat in Thurgood Marshall Hall, please reach out to Devin Entrikin at dentrik@umd.edu. 

Event Description

The U.S. increasingly engages with a wide variety of actors that it calls “allies.” How do U.S. foreign policy elites assess U.S. reliability toward them? This talk builds on Oktay’s recent co-authored study that identifies interest alignment as a key factor that shapes elite attitudes over who should enjoy U.S. reliability and when. Using original elite survey experiments, the study first tests whether the elites consider treaty allies to be more deserving of U.S. reliability than others when interest alignment exists. Next, it explores the limits of U.S. reliability by analyzing whether elites remain in lockstep with treaty allies even in the absence of aligned interests. The results show that U.S. foreign policy elites affirm their greatest support towards treaty allies when interests are aligned. In the absence of aligned interests, however, U.S. elites deprioritize ally concerns over U.S. foreign policy. These findings demonstrate the role of interest alignment in determining who deserves U.S. reliability and when, shedding light on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond.

Speaker Bio

Sibel Oktay is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois, Springfield and a Nonresident Senior Fellow of Public Opinion and Foreign Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Oktay’s research focuses on the domestic politics of foreign policy and how leaders influence policymaking with regional interests in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. She is the author of Governing Abroad: Coalition Politics and Foreign Policy in Europe (University of Michigan Press, 2022). Her peer-reviewed articles appear in the Journal of European Public Policy, European Journal of Political Research, and European Security, among others. Her commentary and analysis have been featured in The New York Times, NPR, BBC World, The Hill, Vox, and War On The Rocks as well as in other international news outlets in Turkey, Lebanon, Canada, the Netherlands, and Brazil. She serves on the editorial board of the journal International Studies Perspectives. She previously served as chair of the Department of Political Science and director of the School of Politics and International Affairs at UIS, president of the Foreign Policy Section at ISA, and program co-organizer of the Foreign Policy Division at APSA. She is a 2023-2024 recipient of the Jefferson Science Fellowship from the U.S. Department of State. 

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