April 11, 2005


Don't Write Off the Turks: Ankara isn't anti-American; it's independent. (Graham E. Fuller, April 11, 2005, LA Times)

Who lost Turkey? That's the theme of a rash of articles in the U.S. press over the last two months. Apparently, there's a growing consensus in Washington that our old ally has been gradually becoming more anti-American.

In 2003, Turkey denied Washington the use of Turkish bases only months before the war on Iraq began. Just recently, Vice President Dick Cheney blamed Turkey's noncooperation for many of the problems today with Iraqi insurgents.

A number of critics have pointed to the rise of anti-American public sentiment in Turkey over the last two years: The Marshall Fund found that 82% of the Turkish public was hostile to the U.S., one of the highest figures anywhere, especially for a NATO ally. A recent bestselling Turkish fictional thriller, "Metal Storm," portrays a U.S. war against Turkey. The Islam-oriented government in Ankara has harshly criticized close U.S. ally Israel for its occupation policies in the West Bank. And Turkey does not concur with Washington's efforts to pressure Iran and Syria.

Although these events indeed represent a new Turkish reality, it would be erroneous — indeed dangerous — to assume that Turkey's widespread opposition to many of the Bush administration's policies are symptomatic of a broader strategic hostility. And it would be exceptionally shortsighted for U.S. policymakers to argue that the democratically elected moderate Islamist government in Turkey is not sufficiently pro-American or that it should be pressured to change its leadership.

In reality, U.S. interests — in the broader scheme of things — have been exceptionally well-served by this Turkish government, which has brought broad democratic reforms to the country as part of its explicit commitment to gain European Union membership.

Our creation of an eventually independent Kurdistan right on their border was obviously not in their best short term interest, but then neither is joining the EU in their own long term interest. There are adjustments to be made in the relationship but nothing remarkable has changed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2005 7:37 AM

Unfortunately I can't forget their retracting permission for the 4th Div. to enter Iraq from their border. Cost too many American lives. I hope we have the opportunity to repay the deed someday.

Posted by: Genecis at April 11, 2005 11:32 AM

Right around when we repay them for fighting with us in Korea?

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2005 11:36 AM

turkey would be much better off making its economy and society more integrated with the anglosphere than the eu. all those welfare transfer payments are blinding them to their own best interests.

Posted by: cjm at April 11, 2005 5:10 PM