U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates addressing the American-Turkish Council Conference in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18, 2010. He said that the United States remains committed to its alliance with Turkey despite months of high-profile tensions.
"The United States and Turkey: Can They Agree to Disagree?"
Policy Brief 46, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University
Author: Joshua W. Walker, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2010–2011
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
Given the headline-grabbing actions of Turkey this summer with regard to both Israel and Iran, a powerful narrative has emerged in which the West has "lost" Turkey. In this Brief, Dr. Joshua W. Walker argues that this narrative ignores the process of democratization in Turkey and the domestic pressures facing a populist Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. To this end, this Brief evaluates US-Turkish relations by placing the recent tensions in a larger historical context and assesses various points of convergence and divergence in this relationship today.
"...When Turkey's governing AKP directly challenged the military in 2007 by selecting a conservative Muslim presidential candidate with a headscarf-wearing wife and the party was not closed or swept out of power by the military, it was a first in Turkish politics. The Turkish military had always positioned itself as a guardian of Turkey's secular character and had promoted itself as the protector of American interests in Turkey. But when the Cold War ended, the logic of politics in Turkey began to change from leftist/Communist versus rightist/ultranationalist to a secular versus Muslim identity polarization. And with greater democratization within the country and a newly emerging conservative ruling elite represented by the AKP, many formerly pro-American secularists began to reveal an ultranationalist tilt that made them instinctively xenophobic, including anti-American. Washington's old Cold War calculus of trying to maintain strong relations with the Turkish military while remaining silent with respect to various domestic issues was no longer viable: The argument floated by the secularist bloc's allies in Washington, that speaking out would cause the U.S. to "lose" the military, no longer carried weight, because in one sense the military had already been lost as a result of Turkish domestic political realities, including a resurgent civilian administration...."
Read the enitre policy brief here: http://www.brandeis.edu/crown/publications/meb/MEB46.pdf
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