Why Does Turkey Have The Leverage?

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Obama.Erdogan.jpg
(Photo Credit: White House Photostream)
The Gaza flotilla crisis and Ankara’s refusal to accede to American leadership on the Iranian nuclear issue have led Washington policymakers to ask what exactly is going on in Turkey these days and why it seems that our NATO ally is pursuing policies that run counter to American preferences. While Turkey is increasingly confident and prosperous, it is nowhere near the military, political, or economic power that the United States is. How is it, then, that Washington can’t seem to get Turkey to do what it wants?
Most of the responses to this question have focused on Turkey’s emerging foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors,” its religiously oriented conservative government, and its floundering European Union membership bid. But while these factors are relevant, Turkey’s selective cooperation has more to do with the United States’ foreign policy than with Turkey’s.
Washington’s ambitious foreign policy in the Middle East since September 11, 2001 has increased its dependence on Turkey. Turkey’s geography, its cultural and historical ties to its neighbors, and its status as a member of NATO combine to make it a crucial American partner for ongoing military operations there. Turkey has helped stabilize Iraq’s Kurdish northern region, led the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and brokered negotiations between Israel and Syria.
This dependence means that Turkey can take a harder line against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) terrorist group based in northern Iraq at the risk of instability there, drive a hard bargain in negotiations over NATO’s missile defense plan, or weaken diplomatic ties with Israel. And because the United States is so heavily invested in the region, Washington can do little but acquiesce to Turkey’s demands and try to get Ankara to support its policies.
Take the Iraq example. In 2007, President Bush was compelled to bow to Turkish demands that the United States’ military share “real-time” intelligence on the PKK in Northern Iraq and to permit Turkish military incursions into Iraqi territory. American officials were hesitant to use scarce resources to counter the PKK in the relatively stable northern part of Iraq amidst widespread violence throughout the rest of the country, but could not afford to lose Turkey’s support for its operations there. Washington capitulated despite its lingering disappointment with Ankara for refusing to allow American forces to use Turkish soil to open a northern front in Iraq in 2003.
Turkey’s outreach to Hamas following its election in 2006, its anti-Israel rhetoric leading up to and following the flotilla incident, and this year’s separate nuclear agreement with Tehran have been met with similar reactions in Washington: helpless frustration.
There are other examples as well including Turkey’s opposition to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s nomination for that position last year and its efforts to lay the pipelines for Russian energy exports to Europe. In each of these cases it is understandable that Turkey is pursuing its national interests, but it is a matter of concern that the United States cannot seem to shape those interests to align more closely with its own.
But doesn’t Turkey need the United States? Yes, but just as American banks were too big to fail, American support for Turkey is too big to be taken away. The problem is not that Turkey no longer benefits from its alliance with the United States, but that the kinds of support that Washington provides to Ankara are not easily leveraged.
First and foremost, as a NATO member Turkey enjoys American security guarantees. While a full-scale invasion by a hostile state is an unlikely scenario, NATO’s invocation of its common defense clause following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks shows that it still pays to be a NATO member.
Turkey also falls under the American nuclear security umbrella and hosts approximately 100 American nuclear weapons on its soil (the exact number is a secret). Turkey’s opposition to recent proposals to remove those weapons demonstrates their enduring value to Ankara.
And while Turkey may be feeling good about its economic performance at the moment, economies fluctuate, and the United States has on several occasions provided both bilateral economic support and loans through the International Monetary Fund to bail Turkey out, most recently in 2002. While Turkey values its NATO membership, its protection under the United States’ nuclear umbrella, and Washington’s economic support, the United States is too reliant on Turkey to credibly threaten to take any of these sources of support away.
This dynamic was on display again in August when reports surfaced that President Obama told Turkish Prime Minister Erodgan that the American-made Predator drones Turkey wants to procure to fight Kurdish insurgents might not be forthcoming if Turkey does not change its policies toward Israel and Iran. It is not surprising that both the White House and Ankara immediately refuted the report in the strongest possible terms.
The point here is not to criticize Turkey’s foreign policy choices, but to show why the United States lacks the leverage to shape those choices. In the short-term, Washington must placate Ankara given its reliance on Turkey in so many areas and the risks associated with alienating its ally. But over the long-term, the United States must craft a more restrained foreign policy that leaves it less reliant on and in a stronger position vis-

Comments

40 comments on “Why Does Turkey Have The Leverage?

  1. DakotabornKansan says:

    Pro-Greek and Pro-Israel Groups Bond Together
    With the exception of Nadine

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    “And many homes are going up in areas that under practically any peace scenario would become part of a Palestinian state, a trend that could doom U.S.-brokered peace talks.”
    Um, because new houses render land permanently uninhabitable? Have you ever considered how nonsensical this typical media statement is?
    The peace talks are a farce that Abbas has been desperate to get out of. He only came to the table in Month 9 of the 10 month morataorium under heavy pressure; by then he figured he could just stall, which he did. Now he’s stalling some more. The moratorium is a great stumbling block that Obama himself introduced, as Abbas explained in a recent interview, “If Obama says it, and all Europe says it, you want me not to say it?” of course Abbas cannot be seen to be less pro-Pal than Obama! I don’t doubt that Abbas is quite grateful for Obama’s naivite and incompetence. A clever President might have actually forced him to negotiate.
    Whoever finds the current situation unendurable, it ain’t the current Pal leadership. They like it just fine. They figure time is on their side and “NO” is always the right answer. They figure they’ve got Israel in a tough spot, neither able to digest the West Bank, nor daring to disgorge it. Well, the settlers think they can play this game of waiting too.
    Think of it as a cold war arms race: the Pals whine about oppression, collect billions in aid, and wage lawfare and terrorism at intervals; while the Israelis build houses, improve the Palestinian standard of living (counter-intuitively, it is always the Israelis who want the West Bank to prosper, while most of the PA leadership wants it to suffer, the better to control it), and wage counter-terrorism at intervals.

    Reply

  3. Kathleen says:

    AP IMPACT: Israeli settlers building 544 new homes
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ml_israel_settlements_unfrozen
    By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer Karin Laub, Associated Press Writer

    Reply

  4. Harry Bennett says:

    WORLD Consortium News / By Robert Parry, Israel — Increasingly Paranoid and Isolated, Dominated by Fundamentalists, Armed with Over 200 Nukes
    Foreign policy analysts around the world are quietly worrying about the prospects of having a very erratic state.
    After Israel

    Reply

  5. Don Bacon says:

    The only state to use nuclear weapons (US) is currently in the process of violating the Non Proliferation Treaty by offering nuclear assistance to India, a non-NPT signatory. Speaking of non-NPT signers getting aid from the US, past disgressions aren’t being overlooked either.
    news report, Oct 11, 2010
    TEHRAN – IRAN’S top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Monday that Tehran is to reveal proof of how nuclear material enriched by United States was delivered to Israel.
    ‘We will soon publish documents on how American enriched nuclear material was provided and transported to the Zionist regime,’ Mr Jalili said, quoted on state television’s website.
    Mr Jalili said the key question in the Muslim world was ‘how the Zionist regime acquired these (nuclear) weapons?’ ‘The Zionist regime and those who gave these weapons to the regime should answer for this’.
    Israel, though it won’t admit it, is the only nuclear weapons power in the Middle East. Israel has not ruled out a military strike against Iran’s atomic facilities in a bid to stop Tehran’s nuclear program.
    Israel has denied a recent UN request to sign the NPT.

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  6. DonS says:

    Detesting nukes on both intellectual and emotional grounds is the only sane posture. There is no role for them as offensive weapons, and their existence within the MAD formulation would be no deterrent to those who continue to posit that certain elements can’t be deterred. That’s an position I think is merely assertion and, in any case reinforces that the only sane path is towards full nuclear disarmament. It’s been the stand of the ND stalwarts for 50 years and it remains sound.
    The rise of ‘rogue’ states (remind me, which is the only nation to use nukes), and non-state actors only increases the risk of not making a non nuclear world a priority.

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Personally, I have a certain dislike for biological and chemical
    weapons. Don’t ask me why – but even if only Mother Theresa
    and my kind grandmother possessed these nasty objects, my
    dislike wouldn’t go away. I guess that defines me as a liberal and
    a leftist in bed with the terrorists.

    Reply

  8. DonS says:

    “Only liberals hate inanimate objects.” (nadine)_
    Oh I don’t know. Christine O’Donnell hates sex toys. But maybe that’s not inanimate in conservative think. That’s about the sort of reply such a vacuous statement merits.

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  9. Dan Kervick says:

    “Canadian nukes would worry you?”
    They would worry me. I live right over the border from Quebec. Of course the Canadians are lovely people, and very peaceful these days. But things could always take a turn for the worse.
    I believe the French have had five distinct Republics over the past two centuries, with some intervening episodes of revolution, turmoil and violence.
    We need fewer nukes all around. Eventually a very large concentration of human beings is going to be instantaneously incinerated by one. There is no compelling evidence the Iranians are actively working on building a nuclear weapon, but it’s a shame the Obama administration peremptorily abandoned its so-called engagement policy – in favor of a combination of domestic politics and short-sighted neo-hegemonism – after it briefly and half-halfheartedly dipped its toe into engagement. I guess the administration found the domestic political water was too cold.

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  10. nadine says:

    “Everybody hates nukes. Do you favor your next-door neighbor having a nuclear weapon? No” (Don Bacon)
    Canadian nukes would worry you? Why? They wouldn’t worry me. I don’t worry about French and British nukes. Do you?
    Only liberals hate inanimate objects. Other people size up the guy with access to the button before they decide what they think of the situation.

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  11. Don Bacon says:

    A good question today at the State Dept.
    QUESTION: Don

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  12. Don Bacon says:

    “Europe is at least as disturbed by the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons as the Americans are.”
    Everybody hates nukes. Do you favor your next-door neighbor having a nuclear weapon? No.
    In fact, Iran has said the same thing. It doesn’t want a nuclear weapon and it doesn’t like Israel having them. It’s disturbing. A lot of Arab states have said the same thing. Unfortunately attempts to get Israel to sign the NPT have been fruitless.

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  13. Paul Norheim says:

    Fortunately, there is a brilliant neocon solution to the
    scenario WigWag describes. The solution is of the “creative
    destruction” variety, and may create some temporary
    frictions, but after a couple of decades, things will
    probably calm down and be just fine.
    1) The Israelis and the Americans in tandem should start
    naming Erdogan The New Hitler.
    2) They should make an alliance with the Arabs, and the
    Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Iran – against the Turks.
    3) The alliance should publicly declare that this is Munich
    1938, and that Turkey represents a threat to the world.
    4) The US should attack Turkey and start a new nation
    building project, under the motto: “Inside every Turkish
    Muslim there is a freedom loving American waiting to
    emerge!”
    5) Americans of German origin should recall their teutonic
    roots, return to Germany, establish a American-Aryan
    community – not in Munich, but in Berlin; cleanse the city
    for it’s Turkish population, take their shops and move into
    their houses, arguing that they lived there long before the
    fanatic Turks arrived – under the motto: Macht machts
    V

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    All the maybes, what-ifs and open questions aside, the fact is that while Ben didn’t dramatically exaggerate Turkish prospects, I will, along with my pal Bill Clinton.
    It’s worked out very well. The Triple Alliance of US-Turkey-Israel is in the dumpster, Turkey is an inspiration for Pakistan, The Turkey-Brazil-Iran alliance is a model in the nonaligned world, Turkey may be a player in Afghanistan and there are new ties between Turkey and the new world big dog — China. The United States lacks the leverage to shape any of those choices.
    Turkey, Iran and China are the big winners and they will inspire other non-aligned countries to further slip the US leash. Even the UNSC won’t be the malleable US tool as much, with its expansion.
    Bill Clinton, in Turkey: “I believe that Turkey will have a major role to play in the 21st century and that you will play that role very well. You will provide an opportunity not only for people living here in Turkey but also for those on whom you will make an impact to live better lives.”

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  15. WigWag says:

    “From the point of view of these Sunni nations, providing assistance to the mostly Sunni Arab Kurds may prove to be just the ticket to teach Turkey a lesson about cozying up to the hated Persians.” (WigWag)
    Errata: This should read, From the point of view of these Sunni nations, providing assistance to the mostly Sunni Kurds may prove to be just the ticket to teach Turkey a lesson about cozying up to the hated Persians.

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  16. WigWag says:

    I think that Ben Katcher exaggerates the leverage that the United States had over Turkey in the past and exaggerates the leverage that Turkey has over the United States now.
    How much leverage did the United States (or Great Britain for that matter) have over the fiercely secular government of Kemal Ataturk, when despite the pleas of the allies, Attaturk’s successors decided that Turkey should remain neutral in World War II?
    While Turkey unquestionably moved closer to the West to counter Soviet aggressiveness during the Cold War, how much leverage did the United States or the other NATO members have over the then secular government when, despite universal opposition in the West, Turkey decided to occupy half of Cyprus in 1974?
    It’s not surprising that Turkey is looking east; Turkey’s co-religionists can be found in the East; many of the nations surrounding Turkey have Turkish speaking populations and the top down, command economies in Iran and Syria mean that Turkey stands to benefit economically if those nations approve of the Turkish political stance.
    Turkey would be wise to remember that the historically hostile relations that the Ottomans had with the Persians and the Arabs weren’t born out of thin air and are likely to reemerge. How long will it be before the Turks inclination to reach out to Iran (and its proxy Syria) infuriates the Sunni Arab nations? From the point of view of these Sunni nations, providing assistance to the mostly Sunni Arab Kurds may prove to be just the ticket to teach Turkey a lesson about cozying up to the hated Persians.
    While Turkey’s recent inclination to criticize Israel may be popular in the Sunni Arab world, how long will it be before Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Gulf States grow tired of Turkey shilling for Hamas? Don’t these nations hate Hamas at least as much as the Israelis do? Is it realistic to expect them to tolerate Turkish support for their sworn enemy for very long? Don’t count on it.
    What about Turkey’s relationship with the largest consumer market in the world; Europe. Europe is at least as disturbed by the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons as the Americans are. Given the Turkish courtship of Iran, how long will it be before the Europeans join the Sunni Arab world in deciding that Turkey needs to be cut down to size? Won’t the increasingly problematic relationship between Europeans and Turkish immigrants eventually lead to deterioration in Turkey’s standing with Europe? Can Turkey really expect China or Russia to ignore the concerns of the Europeans and the Gulf States or are these nations likely to turn against Turkey if it increasingly shifts towards Iran?
    And speaking of Turkey’s recent foray into international diplomacy; how exactly did that work out? My recollection is that the strategy that they (and the Brazilians) negotiated with the Iranians was rejected by the Security Council by a vote of 12-2-1.
    That doesn’t sound like a very auspicious success to me.
    Ben Katcher has it wrong; the Americans and the West never had that much leverage over the Turks when it came to the Turks assessment of their own national interests. That was true when Turkey was ruled by secularists and it is still true now that Turkey is ruled by Islamists.
    In terms of Turkey’s supposed increased leverage, both the data and the history suggest that Ben is dramatically exaggerating Turkish prospects.

    Reply

  17. John Waring says:

    “Turkey is actually advancing US interests in the Middle East quite nicely.”
    Dan, I would consider it an honor to be burnt at the stake with you, for I am guilty of the same heresy.

    Reply

  18. DonS says:

    “The “intention” to become a dictator (just like Iran’s “intention” to have nukes) is quite enough — I say we whack ’em.”
    There’s a long line of possible whackees every bit as potentially intentional; Pakisan; Lebanon; Syria; Venezuala. He really needs to get in line. I mean it’s not like the US has unlimited resources for whacking. I think.

    Reply

  19. Don Bacon says:

    The “intention” to become a dictator (just like Iran’s “intention” to have nukes) is quite enough — I say we whack ’em.

    Reply

  20. Paul Norheim says:

    “He’d like to be a dictator, but he’s not there yet, as far as I can
    tell.” (Nadine)
    Not yet… but when? After the United States courageously
    fought Saddam Hussein, Baby Doc and several other dictators,
    thus saving Western Civilization from a disastrously looming
    World War III in the last minute, I guess the appropriate
    question is: How long will it take before the hawks name
    Erdogan “The New Hitler”?
    Yes, I know they’ll first have to fight the old New Hitler, Iran’s
    Achmedinejad. But if the neocon revolutionaries eventually win
    the battle over America’s soul, I would suggest that they do like
    the French revolutionaries in 1789, and create a new calendar.
    The American Neocon Calendar should start, not with Year
    Zero, but with Year 1938. That year should be repeated every
    New Year: deja vu all over again!
    Suitable for a warmongering nation without memories.

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    There is some US/Turkey contention presently over the “Gradual Warning System Model (missile shield).” The US wants to deploy X-band radars in about 10 to 15 spots on Turkish territory as part of the missile shield plan to intercept possible Iranian missiles and deter them from hitting some NATO countries. [The latest bogeyman — Iran is about to rain missiles on Vienna.]
    The US wants to make clear that the goal is to deter Iranian long-range missiles and Turkey rejects NATO naming any country as a threat. Though the current government is more sensitive about any action targeting Iran, the Turkish state, including its still politically powerful armed forces, will also not like the idea of NATO, with the US as the main sponsor, building a missile shield that will openly target Iran.
    Also, if Russia continues its policy of not joining the missile shield program, Turkey will take the risk of damaging its growing ties with Moscow. –from TurkishPress.com

    Reply

  22. Don Bacon says:

    Why Does Turkey Have The Leverage?
    Obama (NSS): “Our prosperity serves as a wellspring for our power.” –And conversely our lack of prosperity is a sink-hole for US power.
    The Turkish economy grew about 11 percent annually in the first half of 2010, rivaling China for the fastest expansion in the Group of 20 economies. The government will aim for a 2011 budget deficit of 33.5 billion liras ($23.7 billion), or 2.8 percent of gross domestic product. Turkey’s national debt has been reduced to 46.3% of GDP in 2009.
    In the USA, economists estimate 2010 GDP growth at 2.7%, 2011 at 2.45%. The US federal deficit in 2010 is estimated at $1.2tn, or 8% of GDP and will climb to $1.4tn in 2011. The US federal debt is now 94% of GDP.
    By the way, the US federal debt has increased by $3tn under Obama which is $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the USA. The National Debt stood at $10.626 trillion the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated. The Bureau of Public Debt reported Oct 16, 2010 that the National Debt had hit an all time high of $13.665 trillion.

    Reply

  23. JohnH says:

    Dan Kervick notes that the US “must be privately delighted that the most pragmatic, least intolerant and most politically open state in the region…has decided to…light itself up as a big shining model of a moderate path to development and prosperity.”
    Those are all wonderful things, and the US should be pleased. But how does Kervick come to the conclusion that the US actually cares about them? Apart from gobs of noble rhetoric in public diplomacy (propaganda), where is evidence that the US cares about the character of regimes, as long as they support US interests? Has the otherwise rational Kervick been slipped a bad glass of Kool-Aid?

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “While it is politically understandable that Washington will continue to take Israel’s side in disputes with Turkey, there is no way that Turkey could play the kind of bridging role it is playing if Turkey were seen as a partner in a US-Israeli-Turkey “triple alliance”. Washington surely understands this, and secretly supports it”
    “Secretely supports this”???? You gotta be kidding me.
    Thats like questions’ insane premise that Israeli scribes are busily and secretly scurrying behind the scenes drawing up maps that will define isr/pal borders to “settle the violence”.
    To put such a ludicrous “feel good” spin on this when Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State, and 90% of Congress are mere vassals of Israel, is as absurd as Nadine’s arguments usually are.

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  25. Mike Ryan says:

    Israel abuses the US relationship, and uses it to occupy / hold Palestinian land illegally. It is time for some lateral thinking – Israel means trouble, and has no talent for diplomacy or friendship. There is no intention to grant The Palestiniansq6 a just Peace Settlement, so it is time for a new alignment. US + Turkey + Iran + Pakistan. We must pay attention to 1 Billion Muslims. Israel is a small country of 7 million, which does nothing to help peace in the Middle East. Nothing is forever. Turkey is obviously investigating the possibilities for a new alignment with her Muslim neighbours, and has lost patience with Israeli belligerance ( executing 6 Turkish Civilians on the Gaza Aid Ship did not help ).It is time for the US to investigate a change of Allies in the Middle East… !.. A Turkish Realignment is inevitable ….

    Reply

  26. Mike Ryan says:

    Israel abuses the US relationship, and uses it to occupy / hold Palestinian land illegally. It is time for some lateral thinking – Israel means trouble, and has no talent for diplomacy or friendship. There is no intention to grant The Palestiniansq6 a just Peace Settlement, so it is time for a new alignment. US + Turkey + Iran + Pakistan. We must pay attention to 1 Billion Muslims. Israel is a small country of 7 million, which does nothing to help peace in the Middle East. Nothing is forever. Turkey is obviously investigating the possibilities for a new alignment with her Muslim neighbours, and has lost patience with Israeli belligerance ( executing 6 Turkish Civilians on the Gaza Aid Ship did not help ).It is time for the US to investigate a change of Allies in the Middle East… !

    Reply

  27. Mike Ryan says:

    Israel abuses the US relationship, and uses it to occupy / hold Palestinian land illegally. It is time for some lateral thinking – Israel means trouble, and has no talent for diplomacy or friendship. There is no intention to grant The Palestinian a just Peace Settlement, so it is time for a new alignment. US + Turkey + Iran + Pakistan. We must pay attention to 1 Billion Muslims. Israel is an inconsequential country of 7 million, which does nothing to help peace in the Middle East. Nothing is forever. It is time for a change.

    Reply

  28. Carroll says:

    Katcher should be worrying about Israel instead of Turkey.
    By-By Israel
    ‘Israel shedding allies as government goes

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  29. Dan Kervick says:

    Turkey is actually advancing US interests in the Middle East quite nicely, despite some public diplomatic hand-wringing to the contrary in Washington. The US is hardly “placating” Turkey, as Ben Katcher puts it, but must be privately delighted that the most pragmatic, least intolerant and most politically open state in the region has decided to expand its regional influence, become the major economic and diplomatic player in the region and light itself up as a big shining model of a moderate path to development and prosperity. After sitting on the sidelines of the Middle East for years with its resolutely west-fixated gaze and back to the region, a modest change in diplomatic positioning is now providing Turkey with the chance to play a real and very positive influence in the Middle East. And that is certainly good for us.
    The expansion of Turkey’s regional influence under the activist Davutoglu ministry is already beginning to show signs of influencing the region in a hopeful direction away from systemic autocracy and backwardness. By finally getting its military clique in check with the prospect of constitutional reform on the horizon, Turkey can finally end the cycles of instability and risk that have kept the country in the economically unreliable camp for years as an unpredictable, oversized banana republic in the Middle East, alternating between democratic rule and rule by junta. And despite the wails of anguish about the new Turkey’s Islamism, the number of Turks who want Sharia laws in Turkey has actually declined from 26% to 10% since 1999, according to a Sabanci University study.
    An attractive spot for foreign investment; a potential check against Russian overzealosness in the Caucasus; a country that continues to look to Europe for trading partners and further integration; a Nato member; a much more pragmatic and much more moderately Islamist alternative to Iran; a magnet for regional trade integration. A viable and more open Islamist alternative to the revolutionary and unstable Iranian model, the brutal and autocratic Egyptian model and the backward, medieval Arabian peninsula models. What’s not to like here?
    Just look at the Erdogan speech in Pakistan cited in this thread. The thrust of the speech is to continue to entice Pakistanis toward a globally integrated and growth-oriented path, with a pitch for democracy and against military dictatorship thrown in to boot. Pakistani citizens can look to Turkish development, growth and democratic stability under a very moderate Islamism as a model of their own future.
    While it is politically understandable that Washington will continue to take Israel’s side in disputes with Turkey, there is no way that Turkey could play the kind of bridging role it is playing if Turkey were seen as a partner in a US-Israeli-Turkey “triple alliance”. Washington surely understands this, and secretly supports it.
    If this is “neo-Ottomanism”, then so far it looks very good for the US.
    Israel might also be able to look forward to this kind of expansion of regional influence in the future if it ever learns to say “no” to its right-wing fanatics and religious kooks, gets out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and concludes a peace deal on the lines suggested by the Saudi plan.

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  30. JohnH says:

    Quite simply, the US has little leverage with Turkey, because it is not offering constructive solutions to the region’s problems. Instead, the US is blindly pursuing its own national interest (and Israel’s).
    When you have a partner who doesn’t help, you have to do it yourself.
    The US wants to have Turkey isolate itself from all the US’ supposed enemies, mostly Turkey’s neighbors, and continue to bear significant costs for that isolation. But Turkey needs to grow its economy, and those “enemies” represent lucrative markets. And Turkey needs to settle some of the transnational population issues (Kurds) and water issues and prevent them from heating up into major problems.
    The US frankly seems oblivious to the fact that other countries have important national interests and face problems that need to be resolved. As long as the US remains self-centered and oblivious, countries will surely continue to go their separate ways.

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  31. JohnH says:

    Quite simply, the US has little leverage with Turkey, because it is not offering constructive solutions to the region’s problems. Instead, the US is blindly pursuing its own national interest (and Israel’s).
    When you have a partner who doesn’t help, you have to do it yourself.
    The US wants to have Turkey isolate itself from all the US’ supposed enemies, mostly Turkey’s neighbors, and continue to bear significant costs for that isolation. But Turkey needs to grow its economy, and those “enemies” represent lucrative markets. And Turkey needs to settle some of the transnational population issues (Kurds) and water issues and prevent them from heating up into major problems.
    The US frankly seems oblivious to the fact that other countries have important national interests and face problems that need to be resolved. As long as the US remains self-centered and oblivious, countries will surely continue to go their separate ways.

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  32. Don Bacon says:

    Bill Clinton spoke recently in Istanbul.
    “Turkey is opposing unjust treatment and it is fighting injustice. Under these circumstances, what Turkey is doing will pull us together like a magnet. You might be doing certain things your own way and you might think that you are not free but the most important role for you in the 21st century will be devising brand new alliances,” Clinton told a conference at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.
    Clinton said he disagreed with skeptics who argued that Turkey was moving away from the West and it was drifting to extremes.
    “I do not believe that is the situation. Turkey has drawn a way of its own and it is making progress. You are trying to become a bridge and make sure that bad things do not happen. There were some skeptics in the West but they have also seen how unwise it would be to turn their backs on Turkey,” Clinton said.
    “I believe that Turkey will have a major role to play in the 21st century and that you will play that role very well. You will provide an opportunity not only for people living here in Turkey but also for those on whom you will make an impact to live better lives,” Clinton said.

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  33. DonS says:

    “The US has shown, in its lack of ability to follow up on Obama’s Cairo speech and rein in Israel” (don b)
    Rein in? Why yes. Israel owes it’s own continued voluptuous existence to the protectiveness of primarily the US. Had not the US continued to arm Israel to the teeth its arrogance would have been not so lethal.
    All the Israelis I am acquainted with have left the motherland. Most are in a state of disgust at what Israel has become. Perhaps the false sense of grandiosity that Israel has achieved due to its big brother protector US has done far more harm than good. No thanks to American Jews who couldn’t rise above their own guilt to discriminate between their life as Americans and their seemingly cheap fealty to Israel. What a price we have all paid.

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  34. Don Bacon says:

    Why Does Turkey Have The Leverage?
    The US has shown, in its lack of ability to follow up on Obama’s Cairo speech and rein in Israel, and solve its other problems with the Muslim world, that it is ‘all hat and no cattle.’
    Obama: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.”
    New beginning? Where’s the cattle?
    The US is in the economic dumps, and this weakens the country. As Obama’s National Security Strategy states:
    “Our national security begins at home. What takes place within our borders has always been the source of our strength. . .In the long run, the welfare of the American people will determine America

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  35. nadine says:

    “Turkey’s recent moves away from the US and Israel have resulted in a major realignment of Middle Eastern powers and new world alliances. For more than several decades there has been an alliance between Turkey and Israel, and for a couple of decades there has been a “triple alliance” including the US, Israel and Turkey. That’s all over.” (Don Bacon)
    Agreed. Actually, it’s nice to see Ben Katcher come to the party, however late, all those happygrams about how the US-Turkey relationship was fine, just fine, were becoming very tiresome.
    Israel is doing maneuvers with Greece now but it’s hardly an equal trade.
    The open question is whether Turkey’s course change is permanent. The CHP opposition has a lot of support; Erdogan has been working to undermine Turkish democracy and intimidate his opponents, or simply jail them on trumped up charges, with considerable success. He’d like to be a dictator, but he’s not there yet, as far as I can tell.
    “Turkey’s on a roll.”
    Unfortunately, Turkey’s on a roll to the same dead-end authoritarian Islamism as much of the Arab world. You think Iran’s a model to be emulated? Take another look at their economy and their brain drain!

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  36. Don Bacon says:

    Turkey’s recent moves away from the US and Israel have resulted in a major realignment of Middle Eastern powers and new world alliances. For more than several decades there has been an alliance between Turkey and Israel, and for a couple of decades there has been a “triple alliance” including the US, Israel and Turkey. That’s all over.
    In the ME the Israeli-Turkish military alliance has consistently been directed against Syria. Turkey agreed to allow IDF and Israeli security forces to gather electronic intelligence on Syria (and Iran) from Turkey. In exchange, Israel assisted in the equipping and training of Turkish forces in anti-terror warfare along the Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian borders.
    In 1996, Turkey entered into a cooperation Agreement with Israel to update its tank division, modernize its helicopter fleet and its F-4 and F-5 combat planes . In turn, the two countries entered into negotiations with a view to establishing a Free Trade Agreement, which came into operation in 2000.
    With this alliance Israel and Turkey bracketed Syria north and south, and by subduing Lebanon could control the eastern Mediterranean. Also the alliance with Turkey gave Israel a window on Iran. Israel and Turkey were partners in a US planned aerial attacks on Iran, according to some.
    Until two years ago Israel was Turkey’s main partner for air combat training. In 2001 the Turkish air force inaugurated a tactical air warfare center in Konya with Israel and the United States. Until 2008 the Israel Air Force was a frequent guest in Turkey’s sky and a regular participant in the country’s big annual exercise, Anatolian Eagle.
    That’s all changed. In January 2010, Turkey warned Lebanon that Israel may be planning an attack. More recently Turkey’s PM Erdogan has said that Pakistan,Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran have a common future. He didn’t mention Brazil or China.
    Turkey joined with Iran and Brazil in attempt to reach a compromise on the Iran nuclear question, but the US squashed it.
    In the wake of Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent deterioration of bilateral relations Turkey last year revoked Israel’s participation in the maneuvers. Turkey replaced the Israel Air Force with its Chinese counterpart. China sent Sukhoi SU-27 fighter aircraft and pilots to train with Turkey’s F-16 fighters. The United States decided not to take part in the exercise this year because of that decision. A number of other NATO members followed suit.
    Turkey’s on a roll.

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  37. nadine says:

    “Or the US could simply stop trying to be the dominant power in a region 5000 miles from the nearest American territory.”
    Sure, we could leave Russia, Turkey, and Iran to duke it out for regional dominance. Sounds just like a reprise of the 18th century, actually. Anybody remember the wars of Catherine the Great?
    But if you think the loss of US hegemony means a more peaceful world, you are seriously kidding yourself.

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  38. non-hater says:

    “But over the long-term, the United States must craft a more restrained foreign policy that leaves it less reliant on and in a stronger position vis-

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  39. Cee says:

    US backing international terrorists: Turkish PM
    By Hamid Mir
    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the US was supporting some common enemies of Pakistan and Turkey and the time has come to unmask them and act together.
    In an exclusive chat with this correspondent in the presence of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Turkish prime minister very candidly answered critical questions not only about Turkey-Pakistan relations but also on some other important issues before leaving Pakistan on Tuesday night.
    The Turkish premier said that the people of Pakistan should not fight with each other and they must concentrate on rehabilitation of 20 million flood victims.

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  40. DonS says:

    From the post: “Turkey’s outreach to Hamas following its election in 2006, its anti-Israel rhetoric leading up to and following the flotilla incident, and this year’s separate nuclear agreement with Tehran have been met with similar reactions in Washington: helpless frustration.”
    “The point here is not to criticize Turkey’s foreign policy choices . . .”
    Really?
    Well, if not to criticize, maybe it’s just distaste for “helpless frustration” that we can’t “shape those choices” so that “Washington must placate Ankara “.
    Oh, I get it now. We only placate those whose choices we’re not criticizing. Or something. (Limited snark alert.)

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