Unit 1: Who
are lobbyists & what motivates
Unit 2: Turkey's image abroad.
Unit 3: History of Turkish communities worldwide & reasons for a weak Turkish lobby.
Unit 4: National & ethnic interests:
Anti-Turkey lobbies, misrepresentation of facts & defamation.
Unit 5: The Turkish lobby dilemma in the
United States as a case study.
Unit 6: Problems encountered by Turkish
lobbies in the EU, Germany, France & worldwide.
Unit 7: Current Turkish lobby
issues & the role of public
Unit 8 What can be learned from powerful
lobbies such as the
Unit 9 New approaches to educating &
informing Turkish lobbying groups.
Unit 10 Media relations, advertising & professional communications
Unit 11 Initiatives for individuals & public
Unit 12 Initiatives for
communities, campaigns, &
Unit 13: Fund-raising, public relations,
& what can be done domestically.
Unit 14: Turkish lobbies undergo a period of
transition: The need to strengthen old &
Unit 15: Long-term strategies & lobbying in
the post-September 11 era.
I. OUTLINE FOR UNIT 14: Turkish lobbies undergo a period of transition: The need to strengthen old and
1. A look at the era of past lobby leadership.
a. How did previous leaders emerge?
b. How should representatives of lobbies be selected?
c. How can lobby leaders
represent both Turkish communities & society, and the communities they are
part of abroad?
d. How can various lobbies abroad
join forces? How can the needs of Turkish lobbies be determined?
e. The role of non-governmental
organizations (NGO's) and civil society dialogue.
f. What are some challenges that
confront Turkish lobbies due to unresolved international problems (see
g. How can the organization within a
lobby be best structured to meet Turkey's and international needs in:
business and economy; political relations and advocacy; science, culture and
education; information and media; and the long-term structural development
2. What kind of new leadership is needed in the
post-September 11 world?
II. EXERCISE, ACTIVITIES & PROJECTS
Compare the collective identity in Turkey, in the EU, and in the U.S.
(speakers with lobbying experience to be named).
What are the aspirations of the Turkish people?
Would you describe Turkey as a country in transition?
IV. BACKGROUND MATERIAL
This unit deals with training and preparing a new generation of lobbyists who
understand the critical role of lobbying and how lobbying is
important for international relations, Turkey's foreign policy, security
interests, and global cooperation. Past and present challenges should be
evaluated by the participation of individuals who have been actively
involved in lobbying.
Focus will also be placed on the past two decades in which Turkey has
undergone rapid change and striven for EU membership. The economic, social, industrial,
and technological changes have had a tremendous impact on Turkey's large young population.
This young population will no doubt influence the evolution of the structure of the political system
and future direction of Turkey and Turkish society. The passing of reforms, ease of communication, and rapid urbanization,
have also fostered a new attitude and
spirit to solve problems and seek better governance. Along with the increases
in the flow of information, and increases in contacts with other societies,
members of society will be seeking greater political participation. As the
existing structures and institutions modernize, one of the consequences of these
changes is that Turkish lobbies will have new resources to draw upon. Turkish
lobbies will therefore have a higher potential for effective operation and new
opportunities will emerge. The leadership of lobbying groups, which consist of
an older generation of more experienced leaders, and a newer generation more
in tune with the dynamism of the times, will have to be able to adapt to these
Like any organization, Turkish lobbying groups have suffered due to internal
conflicts and lack of experienced leadership. This has hindered their ability to
take every opportunity to advance their cause, and prevented them from being
united and cohesive forces working in an efficient manner. There can be many
reasons for a weak lobbying organization, such as rival leaders struggling for
control, disagreement over policy, tactical or ideological divisions, a
membership that is difficult to coordinate, or because of difficulties in
maintaining the interests of dedicated and loyal members.
Turkish lobbies must be able to understand the aspirations of Turkish
society, and how to represent and convey these aspirations to the world. While considering the common
good of one's country, they should also be able to take into consideration the
common good of others, and not loose sight of a broader vision for humanity
based on shared values. It is essential that young leadership is guided and
supported so that new emerging leaders are capable of global leadership.
The Bush doctrine of preemption has
already alienated allies, turned a generation of youth around the world
against America, destabilized the world economy, and hurt the image of the US
as a responsible nation with benevolent intentions.
The failure to approve US troop
deployment was a blow to US military plans and to the Erdogan leadership,
which had underestimated the opposition from AK Party deputies.
Ahead of the US-led war in Iraq, many
Turkish security issues remained unresolved and led to mistrust amidst the
confusion generated by the pre-war negotiations conducted between the US and
the new Turkish government.
Despite years of employing various
strategies, the US did not seem to demonstrate a successful record of
understanding internal Iraqi dynamics, or organizing Kurdish opposition
leaders and exiles.
Turkish Daily News
( 4 Part Article Printed on June 18, 19, 20, 21, 2003 )
PART - I -
Whether one calls America a "superpower", or "hyperpower",
the enormous power of the United States is generally acknowledged. But the most
powerful country on earth has never been as resented as it is now. Polls
conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project have revealed that negative
opinions of the U.S. and anti-Americanism have increased sharply throughout the
world. Furthermore, the war in Iraq has widened the rift between the U.S. and
the rest of the world. There is no doubt America remains a great and unique
nation, and has been strengthened by the patriotism in America and love of
America that was displayed around the world since the catastrophic attacks of
Sept. 11. But in order to understand why America's popularity abroad has been
decreasing, an examination must be made of how its policies are increasingly
under attack. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, Americans, the Turkish public
and leadership, and people of other nations are trying to determine the source
of this new rise in tensions, and the role that American power and foreign
policy will play in transforming the international order.
What does America stand for?
During a recent address by President George W. Bush at
the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the president stated that the national interests
of America involved more than just eliminating threats. Bush said that America
stands for the values that defeat violence and the hope that overcomes hatred.
He added that many of America's goals are for the benefit of all nations. "We
will use the great power of America to serve the great ideals of America. And by
these efforts we will build a lasting, democratic peace -- for ourselves, and
for all humanity," declared the president.
These inspiring words are very meaningful at a time
when globalization is fueling hostility and when much of the world is wondering
if America is just interested in perpetuating its power? Although some recall an
image of a humble America Bush had once spoken of, many now detect aggressive
American policies driven by self-interest. They also see American actions
eroding international institutions, alliances, trans-Atlantic relations, and the
common values Americans have shared with other nations.
It is without doubt that the way of life in America,
and the freedom and democracy cherished by Americans, has been what attracts the
admiration of people from all corners of the world. Proof of this was reflected
in the international support given to America after the Sept. 11 attacks, which
led to unprecedented cooperation to help defend America with the creation of a
coalition to fight a global war against terror. It must now be asked, what has
happened to the unity America created from such a large coalition of nations?
Why have America's allies, in Europe, NATO and in Turkey, grown to be suspicious
of U.S. intentions?
A new U.S. foreign policy: At what cost?
Many Political commentators agree that one outcome of
the attacks of Sept. 11 was the emergence of a neoconservative-led foreign
policy. One view is that the new overly aggressive foreign policy was adopted
because hardliners were given an opportunity to press an old agenda. Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is generally acknowledged as the man whose
determination and bureaucratic skill turned Bush's reaction to the Sept. 11
attacks into a decision to overturn Iraq's regime. It has been predicted that
"the Bush administration seems likely to proceed with the neoconservatives'
program for remaking the political culture of the Muslim Middle East." The goals
of this pre-designed strategy can be found in "The Project for the New American
Century" (PNAC) written in the late 1990's, which has been described as a
neoconservative plan to create a new world order based on U.S. imperialism and
Some of the pillars of this project were expressed
during a commencement address made last year at West Point by Bush. It was
disclosed that the U.S. would be less bound to allies and to global rules, may
act more unilaterally and in anticipatory ways to confront rogue states and
terrorist threats, and will use its power to organize world order.
Some aspects of the new U.S. policy can be traced back
to a leaked Pentagon document written by Wolfowitz at the end of the first Bush
administration. According to these views, no coalition of great powers without
the U.S. would be allowed to achieve hegemony and the U.S. will maintain a
unipolar world in which it has no competitor.
The White House also issued a document last year called
"The National Security Strategy of the United States" which shifted U.S.
military strategy away from containment and deterrence to preemptive action
against hostile states and terrorist groups developing weapons of mass
Although there is general agreement with the view that
action should be taken before threats are carried out, the Bush doctrine of
preemption is not yet well defined and disregards honored aspects of
international law. It is not clear how the policy will serve long-term U.S.
interests. It has already alienated allies, turned a generation of youth around
the world against America, destabilized the world economy, and hurt the image of
the U.S. as a responsible nation with benevolent intentions.
Ever since the U.S. has claimed the right to use
preemptive or preventive military force, the world wonders if unchecked U.S.
power and over expansion will result in more global problems.
All eyes have now turned to Iraq to see how America
will succeed in making the world safer and freer. Since the U.S. does have
motives other than "global domination," the world waits and hopes that democracy
takes root now that a dictatorship that has committed countless human rights
abuses has been removed from power. America has also sent a clear message to
other oppressive regimes, and potential nuclear blackmailers, that daring
operations of the U.S. military will be executed if necessary.
Meanwhile, Americans are also soul-searching and
asking: Is gaining an empire worth losing democracy? Is it worth winning the war
and losing the world? According to an article by former president Bill Clinton,
America must act with responsibility at this moment of dominance. It must seek
to build "an integrated global community of shared responsibilities, shared
benefits and shared values. America must support the institutions of global
community, beginning with the United Nations."
But the situation in Guantanamo has become one example
of the contradictory images that America is now presenting to the world,
prompting the global audience to ask: Where is America heading, and what has
become of the America that serves as a model of fairness, respect for the rule
of law, and civil liberties? That America still exists, but there seems to be a
transformation taking place. The war on terrorism has justified this period of
transition, and reordering of principles, in order to deter attacks in the
future. But, as the champion of human rights, the U.S. must be able to justify
the unprecedented situation in Guantanamo. It seems for now, America will define
threats and set standards for justice according to unclear principles, while at
the same time it remains committed to higher principles.
Why the world feels misled
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Muslim and non-Muslim
nations came together because of an agreement on a common enemy, called al-Qaeda
(many Muslim nations however still fear that since the end of the Cold War,
Islam, a religion with over 1.2 billion adherents, may somehow be turned into
the new enemy to replace communism). But, despite the renewed sense of
responsibility for advancing common goals, a profound crisis emerged in global
affairs as the U.S. prepared for the war against Iraq without fully convincing
most allies or members of the post-Sept. 11 coalition that Iraq was a threat.
This led to deep skepticism about U.S. motives and stirred resentment because
the U.S. did not take the interests of other countries into account.
Another reason for the crisis was that the U.S. did not
seek endorsement of a second U.N. resolution and went to war maintaining that
Resolution 1441 was an authorization to use force. When the United Nations
Security Council gave unanimous approval of Resolution 1441 last November
(setting inspections program to force Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass
destruction or face "serious consequences") the U.S. received support from
member nations after it gave assurances that 1441 would not be a trigger for an
attack on Iraq. However, after presenting evidence to the U.N. in February, the
U.S. did not want to conduct any further negotiations, nor did it want to give
U.N. inspectors any more time, maintaining that Iraq posed a clear and imminent
In addition, world public opinion was united against
war. While the pope called the potential war in Iraq "a defeat for humanity,"
the commonly held view was that it was not a "just war." World opinion is still
not convinced that the war was legal or legitimate. Nor has undisputed evidence
emerged that could convince many world leaders that there were illegal weapons
programs in Iraq that posed an imminent threat.
Furthermore, a controversy has emerged in the U.S. and
Britain over how pre-war intelligence was used. In February, when U.S. Secretary
of State Colin Powell made a presentation of the U.S. case for war to the United
Nations Security Council (accompanied by George Tenet, Director of the Central
Intelligence Agency) he used pre-war intelligence to prove that: 1) Iraq had
dangerous weapons of mass destruction, 2) Saddam had ties to terrorists, and 3)
that Iraq was an imminent threat, requiring a decision to go to war within
After the presentation, officials working with the
International Atomic Energy Agency cast doubt on some of the evidence that had
been submitted to the Security Council. Subsequently, other issues emerged, such
as document forgeries and discredited documents. According to a February issue
of Newsweek, "the CIA said it could not confirm some of the material that the
most hawkish Pentagon officials insisted" would be convincing points for
Although there has been disagreement in the U.S. over
whether the U.S. case should have been brought before the U.N., the diplomatic
efforts won the U.S. some credibility at a time when the U.S. rush to war
created an unfavorable view of the U.S.
It has been reported that Powell, who is respected
abroad as an honorable statesman, was frustrated by some of the dubious
intelligence while the presentation was being prepared. Since then the press has
reported that there are serious U.S. misgivings over the influence of ideologues
at the Pentagon, as well as the central role the Pentagon has played in foreign
policy and intelligence.
Intelligence analysts inside the government have
complained about the pre-war role played by a special Pentagon unit that
provided policymakers with an alternative, and more hawkish, view of
intelligence related to Iraq. The Pentagon unit is said to have highlighted
information from Iraqi exiles and other sources that had been dismissed by CIA
Amidst the intelligence controversy, Wolfowitz has
disclosed the reasons for the war: "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on
weapons of mass destruction because it was the one issue everyone could agree
on." In an interview with Vanity Fair, Wolfowitz further explained that another
reason for the war was to promote Middle East peace by allowing the U.S. to take
its troops out of Saudi Arabia. A "huge prize" for the Pentagon from the
invasion of Iraq seems to be an alternative to Saudi Arabia as a base for U.S.
influence in the region. Wolfowitz, known as a regime-change champion, has been
calling for a war to take over Iraq long before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Why Turkey feels misled
Ahead of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, many Turkish
security issues remained unresolved and led to mistrust amidst the confusion
generated by the pre-war negotiations conducted between the U.S. and the new
It has become clear that Americans did not explain U.S.
plans regarding northern Iraq, such as the role the Kurds would play in a future
Iraq, nor how Iraq's territorial integrity would be protected. In addition, U.S.
goals and priorities did not seem consistent, leading international leaders to
also question what the U.S. intended to do in Iraq.
To begin with, the 1991 Gulf War had a large
U.N.-authorized multinational coalition and Saddam Hussein had clearly violated
the U.N. Charter with his invasion of Kuwait. In this U.S. proposed war however,
not only was a large coalition lacking, but also Turkey was not initially given
security assistance from NATO due to delays by France, Germany and Belgium
(although NATO members confirmed they were committed to Turkey's defense).
It also appears that the Americans did not provide
sufficient guarantees to Turkey (such as the type of written guarantees that
have been made with Israel and Egypt). Turks had become especially wary of U.S.
policies because of past experiences with the U.S. Congress and feared the U.S.
may not be able to keep its promises due to future intervention and/or
opposition by the powerful anti-Turkey lobbies.
Turkey had other legitimate security concerns that had
arisen over the years. Since the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. had conducted many
operations in Iraq without involving Turkey; most importantly the U.S. divided
Iraq with no-fly zones and created an autonomous region for the Kurds. Numerous
plans were also made to overthrow Saddam, but failed. When Shiites and Kurds
were encouraged to revolt thousands were killed or had to flee, and Turkey
received flows of refugees. After these operations, in 1998, the Iraq Liberation
Act was adopted by the U.S. as a policy of regime change, along with a military
strategy to destabilize Iraq using the Iraqi National Congress to establish a
democratic federal regime. A budget was provided for military aid to train,
equip, and finance an Iraqi opposition army, as well as to train insurgents. In
addition, since the Gulf War ended, the U.S. bombed Iraq in 1993, 1996, 1998 and
2001. Despite years of employing various strategies, the U.S. did not seem to
demonstrate a successful record of understanding internal Iraqi dynamics, or
organizing Kurdish opposition leaders and exiles.
Turkey was therefore concerned with the security
situation because the U.S. had been organizing, arming and training Iraqi exiles
and Kurds for years (and not just in the region, but also in many parts of the
world). At present, mini armies trained over the years by the U.S. are in Iraq
defending Kurdish territories and the returning opposition leaders.
Although Turkish troops have been in northern Iraq for
many years fighting the outlawed terrorist organization known as the Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK, or KADEK), the U.S. sought to limit Turkish operations.
Before the March 1 vote of Parliament (which by a small margin rejected
Washington's request to open a northern front from southeast Turkey) the U.S.
opposed Turkish troops crossing into northern Iraq beyond the level that had
been there since the 1990s. Turkey as a result became even more distrustful of
U.S. intentions. Some sentiments can be understood by the following rational: If
the U.S. is so concerned about terrorism that it comes thousands of miles to
Iraq to fight it, how is it that it prevents Turkey from fighting terrorism
right under its nose, and from maintaining security on Turkey's doorstep?
Turkish sensitivities and "red lines" comprised other
issues that could have led to confrontation or a wider war. Some of the main
concerns of the Turkish military and government were: the ability of Turkish
forces to act independently in northern Iraq; the prevention of terrorist
infiltrations; the pursuit of 5,000 PKK terrorists who remained in the area; the
seizure of northern Iraqi cities by Kurds; the monitoring of the distribution of
arms to Kurds, as well as their disarming; preventing weapons from falling into
the hands of the PKK; the control of northern oil fields and Iraqi natural
resources; the protection and status of the Turkmens; and the potential founding
of an independent Kurdish state. On security issues related to these subjects,
the Turkish military was seeking to coordinate operations with the U.S. from
jointly run command centers.
It should be remembered that since 1991 Turkey has
cooperated with the U.S. and authorized the use of Incirlik base for maintaining
the no-fly zone that protected Kurds above the 36th parallel in northern Iraq.
Turkey in the past has also provided assistance to Kurdish leaders, enabled
northern Iraq to prosper as a result of trade with Turkey, and gave refuge to
hundreds of thousands of Kurds who over the years fled northern Iraq.
Another subject that may have added to the atmosphere
of mistrust was the British request for military cooperation. Due to past
experiences resulting from the role Britain played in carving out Ottoman
territories, historical injustices resurfaced in the minds of Turks. During a
CNN-Turk interview, Wolfowitz stated that for historical reasons the Turks were
not wanted in Iraq today (it is difficult to understand Wolfowitz's statement
for excluding Turkish troops, as shown by the fact that at present there are
20,000 British troops in Iraq despite the great dislike of the British since
20,000 British soldiers were killed in Iraq in 1915).
The initial enormous U.S. military requests made to
Turkey, which included up to 92,000 U.S. troops, also may have raised eyebrows.
Some observers have suggested that Turkish leaders believed that such an
overwhelming force was not needed to overpower the Iraqi army. This may have led
to the assumption that the U.S. was planning to use force elsewhere in areas
surrounding Turkey. It was perhaps the fear of a series of U.S.-led conflicts in
the region that may have made decision-makers and the military more reluctant to
support a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- suspecting that this was just the first
front of a greater war that would cause long-term instability and economic
Amidst the pre-war confusion and suspicions, analysts,
strategists, writers, military officials and political figures were talking
about "hidden" agreements and plans that would serve U.S. global geopolitical
interests, and help secure access to markets and natural resources. According to
one writer, Norman Mailer, "Iraq is the excuse for moving in an imperial
direction. War with Iraq would enable them [the U.S.] to control the Near East
as a powerful base -- not least because of the oil there, as well as the water
supplies from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers -- to build a world empire."
According to another view, the U.S. was first planning to build a new alliance
with Central and Eastern Europe as the base for U.S. power projection in the
Middle East and Central Asia.
Once the war began, U.S. and Turkish mistrust seemed to
increase. In April, Kurdish militias overran the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul,
prompting Turkey to send military observers to monitor Kurdish forces. Tensions
were also raised by anti-Turkish demonstrations in northern Iraq, as well as the
burning of Turkish flags. The Iraqi Turkmen Front stated that Turkmens were
being intimidated and discriminated against by the Kurds. As interethnic
violence continued, Turkmens and Arabs expressed fear of Kurdish domination.
Furthermore, press reports appeared that Turkish Special Forces were found
transporting arms into northern Iraq. The Turkish foreign minister denied this,
stating that they were protecting a humanitarian aid convoy. On this subject
Wolfowitz stated that unilateral action in northern Iraq could no longer be
will discuss how pledges, misunderstandings and distrust led to U.S.
disappointment over the March 1 vote)
* * *
- It is very unfortunate that the Turkish government
gave mixed and inconsistent messages throughout the pre-war negotiations. At a
time when the US was preparing for war, Turkish and US officials were immersed
in time-consuming discussions to iron out differing positions, further
creating the impression that Turkey would be supporting US operations.
- The US did not fulfill its economic commitments to
Turkey after Turkey cooperated in the 1991 Gulf War, and caused Turkey to lose
billions, resulting in ongoing economic troubles. Turkey felt betrayed and
taken for granted.
- Because Turks passed a parliamentary motion that
allowed the upgrading and expansion of ports and airbases, the US was given
the impression that Turkey intended to be an active participant in the war.
- Wolfowitz could also be accused of trying to place
blame on Turkey in order to distract attention from US mistakes,
miscalculations and a misreading of Turkish politics and intentions.
PART - II -
In early December 2002, when Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz was in Turkey seeking commitment for military cooperation if the
U.S. decided to go to war, Turkey's Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis made a
bewildering statement to the press about letting Turkey's bases be used if
needed by the U.S. This statement triggered a crisis in Ankara. At about the
same time Wolfowitz surprised an international press conference and stated that
he had received "very strong" support from all levels of government, implying
that Turkish support was assured. There were also reports of economic
assistance, 90,000 American troops, and millions of dollars to expand Turkish
bases and ports.
These public announcements set the stage of confusion
that would continue for months to come. Late in the evening, Chief of Staff Gen.
Yasar Buyukanit declared that no such decision had taken place, and that Yakis
had expressed his personal view. Then around midnight the Turkish foreign
ministry issued a statement to clarify Yakis' remarks and explain that the
foreign minister was only speaking of possibilities, did not give a commitment,
or make any promises.
Why the US feels misled
Since last year, the press has reported that members of
the Justice and Development (AK) Party government have made other encouraging
remarks, and given so-called "pledges" to the U.S. that the public has not been
made aware of. The perplexing issue of what pledges were given to the U.S.
continues to this day. The uncertainties go back to when AK Party leader Tayyip
Erdogan (now Prime Minister) met with President Bush in Washington. Suspicions
arose in Turkey over what was said during certain meetings when the Turkish
ambassador to Washington was not present, and when no official transcripts were
Amidst these confusing developments, other mixed
messages continued to come out of Ankara. In January a large delegation of
Turkish businessmen visited Baghdad. In mid-January, Turkey launched a regional
diplomatic initiative to discuss ways to avoid war and to help find a solution
to the crisis. A six-nation summit, that included Middle East leaders from
Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, was held in Istanbul. The
Turkish public was aware that although a number of nations did support the
U.S.-led war, many others did not. Non-aligned nations, EU members, the Arab
League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, as well as international
organizations rejected the use of military force against Iraq. It was amidst
this atmosphere of unfavorable views of the war that pre-war negotiations
continued with the U.S.
At the time the U.S. may have underestimated the
anti-war sentiments in Turkey and did not realize that many Turks believed they
could prevent a war if Turkey did not open the northern front. Moreover, neither
U.S. nor Turkish officials worked towards preparing the public for an active
Turkish role in the war. The role of the U.S. ambassador, his relaying and
interpretation of events, and how effectively he conducted diplomacy should also
Despite the anti-war sentiments, U.S. hopes of Turkish
participation were raised early in the year when Turkey agreed to allow about
150 U.S. inspectors to examine Turkish bases for meeting specific needs if the
U.S. decided to go to war. On February 6 Parliament passed a bill allowing the
expansion of ports and airbases (in addition to bilateral military agreements
with Turkey, the U.S. has agreements through NATO). After the passing of this
parliamentary motion the U.S. was given the impression that Turkey intended to
be an active participant in the war.
On February 8, what has been described as a secret
memorandum of understanding was signed between the U.S. and Turkey. Soon after,
CHP leader Deniz Baykal presented the Parliament Speakership Council with an
inquiry motion claiming the U.S. had exceeded the limits of upgrading and was
carrying out other military activities. He claimed that the motion approved by
Parliament did not seek authorization for such activities, and advised that a
parliamentary investigation committee find out what pledges may have been given
by AK Party government officials.
As pre-war negotiations entered into the month of
March, U.S. ships had already begun docking at Turkish ports and were waiting
off the Turkish coast with troops and supplies. Meanwhile, some U.S. equipment
and forces continued to pass through Turkey into northern Iraq.
US Disappointed with Turkey's March 1 parliamentary
On March 1 a parliamentary vote was held which rejected
by a small margin a motion for the deployment of U.S. troops (as well as the
deployment of Turkish troops abroad). The motion was brought to Parliament with
the support of the AK Party and Turkish military amidst a debate because the
international validity prerequisite, which is required by the Turkish
constitution, had not been met.
The failure to approve the U.S. troop deployment was a
blow to U.S. military plans and to the Erdogan leadership, which had
underestimated the opposition from AK Party deputies. It appears that the
Turkish generals also underestimated the opposition since they had previously
expressed the view that they favored Turkey's active support so that the Turkish
military would have influence on the unfolding events in northern Iraq. One of
the first public declarations by the military was on November 10 when it was
made clear that even if Turkey did not want to participate in this war, it would
have to in order not to be excluded from future developments.
After the March 1 vote, Chief of the Turkish General
Staff, Hilmi Ozkok, confirmed that the Turkish Armed Forces' view was the same
as the government's, and stated that it was reflected in the motion the
government sent to Parliament. Although the military confirmed that both the
military and the government had taken the same position, some American
decision-makers wondered why the military did not speak up more forcefully
earlier. In May, Ozkok once again stressed that the military had done all it
could for the passage of the motion. He emphasized that the National Security
Council could not tell Parliament what to do and could only advise the
government to push for passage of the motion.
The Turks continued to be criticized by some circles in
the U.S. for not using the military to influence the outcome of the vote. The
Americans believed that if the generals really wanted, the motion would have
Leading up to the vote, the situation became more
confusing day by day, with the U.S. pushing Turkey, while the U.S. president had
not yet decided to go to war (perhaps further encouraging some to think that
Turkey was indispensable, or that they could avert war). Although Turks wished
they could prevent the war, discussions emerged about resubmitting the motion,
or a revised version, for another vote due to U.S. disappointment. This proposal
offended many Turks because they felt that the national will had already been
demonstrated, and saw a double standard: America preaches democracy only when it
Like millions across the globe, Turks believed their
government was right in opposing the war. Turkey did not see Iraq as a threat,
the Turkish people did not want this war, and the government through a
democratic process heeded popular sentiment. Turkey thus won praise from the EU
and received renewed importance in the Middle East and Islamic world.
It is very unfortunate however, that the Turkish
government gave mixed and inconsistent messages throughout the pre-war
negotiations. At a time when the U.S. was preparing for war, Turkish and U.S.
officials were immersed in time-consuming discussions to iron out differing
positions, further creating the impression that Turkey would be supporting U.S.
operations. Some commentators tend to place blame on the communication problem
that existed due to a badly advised and inexperienced new government. Others
feel the U.S. was arrogant in assuming Turkey would just deliver, and demanded
too much from Ankara. Others faulted the fact that negotiations were too long
with deadlines that were repeatedly postponed, causing the government to become
accustomed to a pattern of delay and negotiate. Another fact which may have
encouraged Turks to keep negotiating was that in the last Gulf War, Turks agreed
to support the U.S. after the war had already begun (however, the negotiations
came to an end, along with the huge economic package, before the war started on
The Turks can be faulted for not having maintained a
consistent position from the beginning. The Americans may be at fault for not
being able to decipher the meaning of the inconsistent positions, and for being
unrealistic in expecting too much from an inexperienced government who faced
great opposition to the war. As former Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz
explains, "The U.S. also found dealing with a divided government more difficult
Another factor that led to the delays was the
unresolved issue of whether the U.N. was going to pass a second resolution or
not. In mid-March, the Turkish government was still waiting for a U.N. decision,
not knowing that U.S. strikes against Iraq would begin in a few days. It was
around March 15 that the Pentagon decided to begin moving ships out of the
Mediterranean to the Red Sea and Turkey was notified that it might not be
receiving a major aid package.
Until the day before the war began, the U.S. was still
waiting for Ankara to operationalize overflights. By then tensions in relations
had peaked and Secretary of State Powell told the Turkish government that the
U.S. was no longer interested in troop deployment but only wanted overflight
rights. The U.S. had switched to "Plan B."
Less than 24 hours after the Turkish Parliament voted
to allow overflight rights, the war began. Unlike the start of the 1991 Gulf
War, when Turkish President Turgut Ozal was notified that the war was about to
begin, the government received no notification in advance.
War begins without active Turkish support
After the war began, Yakis stated that Turkey never
believed the Americans had a fallback position, what is now known as the "Plan
B." But the U.S. proved it could conduct the war with or without Turkey. The
Turkish government had made the wrong assumption and presumed that a northern
front was indispensable. As noted above, they also believed that perhaps by
dragging their feet the war could be averted.
Now that the war was launched without opening a
northern front, how would the Americans and the Turks be operating in northern
Iraq? On March 27, 1,000 U.S. paratroopers were dropped into Kurdish-controlled
northern Iraq to mobilize local tribes and troops. Several days before, Bush
announced that the U.S. was making it very clear that it expected the Turks not
to come into northern Iraq. "They know our policy, and it's a firm policy," said
Bush. About the same time Turkey announced that Operation Northern Watch was no
longer in effect. Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's special envoy to the Iraqi
opposition, warned that more Turkish troop deployment in northern Iraq could
lead to friendly fire incidents. U.S. State Department official Marc Grossman
also warned Turkey not to take unilateral action, as the Kurds would then
definitely be provoked into taking arms against the Turks.
Finally on April 2 Powell arrived in Ankara to try to
rebuild confidence and develop greater military cooperation (no top level U.S.
officials had visited Ankara during the crucial negotiations). Turkey agreed to
an expanded role, as well as to facilitate the delivery of supplies, fuel, spare
parts, and humanitarian aid, in addition to assisting U.S. planes in case of
emergencies. During the visit Powell made a statement that referred to Turkey as
a member of the coalition, with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul expressing a
similar view. However, again confusion arose over whether Turkey was a member or
not a member of the coalition (afterwards Erdogan also maintained that Turkey
was part of the coalition). Shortly after the Powell visit the U.S. agreed to
the inclusion of $1 billion for Turkey in the supplemental U.S. war budget.
The lack of communication between U.S. and Turkish
officials continued, and was highlighted when Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld stopped over in Incirlik without meeting any Turkish officials or
visiting Ankara. During a visit to the U.S. by Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi
Gonul no meeting was arranged with his counterpart. Although Turks have
expressed interest in discussing outstanding issues and northern Iraq, there
have been reports that the U.S. did not want any top-level Turkish figures to
visit Washington. The American embassy in Ankara has denied these press reports.
On the Turkish side, Erdogan has expressed disappointment that Turkey has not
received the appreciation it should have for assisting the U.S.
Turkish-American relations seem to have suffered damage
as well when President Bush broke with tradition and did not send a message to
the Turkish Day parade in New York. This not only was a blow to some of
America's best friends who struggle daily to support the friendship between the
two countries, but also hurt the very spirit that makes America.
Too many unknowns
One major reason why Parliament did not vote in favor
of hosting U.S. troops might be because the duration of the war was unclear.
When Turkey agreed to support Operation Provide Comfort after the 1991 Gulf War,
Turkey was not aware that the six-month mandate would be renewed ten times. Due
to the complex situation created by attempted U.S. coups and endeavors to
overthrow Saddam, Turkey's security concerns required new rules of engagement
and the operation was renamed Operation Northern Watch. However, because the
Turks felt that the U.S. did not demonstrate sufficient cooperation and
consultation, some of Turkey's concerns were never adequately addressed. Turks
may have worried that hosting U.S. troops could result in tens of thousands of
American soldiers settling down in Turkey for an unknown period, posing further
Another reason for the failure to pass the motion was
that the U.S. failed to understand Turkish sensitivities and how Turkey had
suffered due to the 1991 Gulf War. The U.S. did not fulfill its economic
commitments to Turkey after Turkey cooperated in the Gulf War, and caused Turkey
to lose billions, resulting in ongoing economic troubles. Turkey had felt
betrayed and taken for granted when the U.S. did not keep these promises. A
political vacuum was created in northern Iraq leading to terrorist
infiltrations, lost trade, closure of the oil pipeline from Iraq, and a loss of
tourism. In addition, many people considered the sanctions on Iraq immoral.
Turks who had developed a lack of confidence in U.S. policies were pointing out
that the U.S. could not be trusted and that it was the U.S. who had deceived
Turkey. When this writer posed a question on this subject to former Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger during his visit to Istanbul, the famous statesmen
replied, "Sometimes friends take friends for granted."
The endless monetary bargaining turned into one of the
most puzzling aspects of the pre-war negotiations. It is said the initial
request by the Turkish government was $92 billion, which took into consideration
the billions Turkey lost since the 1991 Gulf War. But, it has been pointed out
that because different Turkish government and economic institutions offered
different estimates of the costs to Turkey of the Gulf War, Turkey had a harder
time convincing the U.S. of its losses.
The fact that President Sezer did not think unilateral
action by the U.S. against Iraq was legitimate also contributed to the confusion
over the legality of the proposed war. In particular, Turkish support without
international authorization would violate the Turkish constitution. Other
influential political figures such as the Speaker of the Parliament and the CHP
Party leader played a role in the mushrooming of positions and opinions. The
idea of Turkey being used as a springboard, or stepping-stone to invade another
country was suggested. Such a notion was clearly not compatible with Ataturk's
motto "Peace at home, and peace abroad."
Also domestic considerations played a role, i.e.
radical Islamic elements could cause problems. A potential backlash may have
meant a loss of legitimacy for Turkish leaders who then would be paying too high
a price for involvement. And if the situation spiraled out of control, the
Turkish public not only would blame the U.S., but also lose confidence in
Turkey's leaders and the military -- perhaps even turn against them due to a
loss of legitimacy.
Turks were not sure what they would lose or win by
supporting or not supporting the U.S. Although some Turkish writers belittled
moral principles and the human cost in terms of value, Turks considered
themselves as having maintained their integrity and national honor. Furthermore,
a hostile population in Iraq, which is now protesting against the U.S. presence,
would have generated animosity against Turkey -- but, unlike U.S. forces who
will be returning to the U.S., Turks would have no choice but to remain
neighbors with the enraged Iraqi people.
As discussed in Part 1, there were a number of other
political and security issues that led to mistrust and misunderstandings, such
as an initial lack of support from NATO, a lack of guarantees from the U.S., a
lack of Turkish involvement in past U.S. operations linked to Iraq, the unclear
status of the Turkmens, the protection of Iraq's territorial integrity, the
future role of the Kurds in northern Iraq, and how Turkish forces would
independently fight PKK terrorism.
Wolfowitz: Turkey should admit it made a mistake
On May 6, Wolfowitz appeared on a CNN-Turk interview
and said that in order to help repair relations the Turkish government (and
people) should admit they made a mistake (which has been interpreted by Turks as
apologize). Firstly, Wolfowitz was seen to have insulted the Turkish democratic
process using a style that demonstrates an arrogant attitude, making it evident
that some U.S. officials do not understand or care about the sentiments of the
Turkish people. Secondly, Wolfowitz stated that the Turkish military did not
show the leadership it should have. Again he displayed an arrogant style
especially by being critical of an institution that is trusted and held in great
respect in Turkey.
Such accusations have further distanced Turks and
Americans from one another. They have reinforced the notion in Turkey that
America expects and demands too much, and might even be threatening Turkey. It
is obvious that the voting process and outcome were not preplanned, nor a
deliberate act to mislead Americans (one can only admit to making a mistake if
the mistake was done with awareness while the action was being taken). Such an
approach to repairing ties will only make it more difficult to overcome past
misunderstandings and will create vicious circles of accusations. One could
equally ask for an apology from Wolfowitz for his erroneous judgment leading him
to declare that Turkish support was assured (as well as his bungling of
diplomacy at a time when ties are strained). There may be no end to these
accusations. Wolfowitz could also be accused of trying to place blame on Turkey
in order to distract attention from U.S. mistakes, miscalculations and a
misreading of Turkish politics and intentions.
U.S. congressmen have recently sent a letter to Bush
sharply criticizing Wolfowitz for his argument that the Turkish military did not
play a leading role to convince parliamentarians to vote for the authorization
that would have enabled U.S. troops to be deployed. The congressmen state that
not only were his remarks detrimental to Turkish democracy, but they were in
contradiction with the U.S. claim to be the defender of democracy across the
(PART 3 will examine how
pre-war negotiations effected U.S.-Turkish relations, how mutual interests
endure, and what a new era will bring)
* * *
What is worrying is that further
damage to relations may result if the US escalates its confrontation with Iran
or Syria without rallying international support.
A dialogue with countries located east
of Turkey should not be interpreted as a loss of Turkey's Western focus.
As a Muslim ally, Turkey has, does and
can further help America win hearts and minds, while sending positive messages
to the Islamic world.
Underestimating Turkey's geo-political
significance would inevitably limit the bridge of cooperation between Eurasia
and the West.
Looking back, we see that
Turkish-American relations have endured many crises, such as the 1964 "Johnson
letter," the 1971 hashish crisis, and the 1974 embargo. One issue that
repeatedly comes close to tearing relations apart is the support congressmen
give to Armenian genocide claims.
PART - III -
As described in the previous sections, a combination of
factors led to the rejection of the March 1 parliamentary motion to deploy U.S.
troops in Turkey to create a northern front against Iraq, as well as to send
Turkish forces abroad. For Turks the reasons the U.S. urgently sought to launch
a war were never clearly understood, nor was it understood why it was in
Turkey's interests to support the U.S. Turks saw too many sacrifices demanded by
the U.S., accompanied by too many uncertainties and unknowns. Despite decades of
close cooperation, there seemed to be a breakdown of communication amidst this
confusion. As U.S. pressure mounted, the world displayed similar reactions to
what was viewed as an overly aggressive U.S. foreign policy that lacked concern
with the interests of friends and allies. Furthermore, the U.S. contributed to
the turmoil by shifting its priorities and remaining vague about its post-war
Amidst this atmosphere of confusion, inconsistent
positions were held by the newly elected Turkish government, which led to
misunderstandings and disappointment both in the U.S. and in Turkey. AK party
members unfortunately raised U.S. expectations with so-called pledges and the
passing of a motion to allow the upgrading of ports and bases. Legal documents
were prepared and even details regarding the legal status of U.S. soldiers were
discussed. U.S. ships waited for weeks off the Turkish coast. Meanwhile the U.S.
reached a point of no-return with no time to listen while it was preoccupied
with its rush to war (in part due to changing weather conditions). This left
Turkey and the international community without a sound understanding of Bush's
new doctrine of preemption.
Despite the long-established U.S.-Turkish friendship
that goes back at least half a century, Turkey is now seen as an unreliable
ally, not to be trusted, and even has been accused of betraying and deliberately
As noted earlier, had Turkey's present and post-Saddam
security concerns been better addressed, less indecisiveness would have occurred
before the parliamentary vote. Turkey could have formulated a policy earlier on,
offering full cooperation, or semi-cooperation, or declaring that its
contributions would be very limited.
There were other unexpected events that played a role
in creating an anti-American and anti-Turkish atmosphere. Shortly before the
March 1 decision, Turkey became the subject of jokes in the U.S. media due to
ugly presentations of Turks, especially with mocking cartoons as carpet dealers
or bazaar hagglers (the remarks made by President Bush describing Turks as
"horse traders" did not help). Though an ally of over 50 years, Turkey was
blackened overnight before the eyes of the American public. Turks felt insulted
and betrayed. Throughout the bargaining process the U.S. media coverage of
Turkey made Turkey appear as though it was solely focused on money (clearly
reflected in an article by William Safire who referred to Turkey as an ally with
a "price tag").
In addition to the economic negotiations, there were
strategic, military and political negotiations relating to security that the
press did not cover. Nonetheless, the impression given was that Turkey was
interested in a bribe in exchange for military cooperation.
The U.S. press also made remarks that Turkey could in
the future be blamed for the deaths of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, blamed
for prolonging the war, and blamed for undercutting U.S. efforts to win
international support at the U.N. by emboldening smaller countries to resist
Turks were also accused of hoping to grab the oil
fields of northern Iraq. Some writers charged that it was the Islamic origins of
the ruling party that was a main reason behind the rejection of the motion.
The accusations and disturbing image created of Turkey
have raised serious questions about whether the U.S. has really been a true
friend and ally of Turkey. In the U.S. serious doubts have been raised whether
Turkey is a reliable friend and ally, and what type of future strategic
significance it may have for furthering U.S. interests.
Is it possible that despite decades of cooperation,
Turkish and U.S. sentiments and interests may be in conflict in the future? Due
to bilateral tension, and what Turks see as unsatisfyable U.S. demands, Turks
have begun asking: Should Turkey give priority to the EU, or due to endless
problems with the EU should Turkey develop closer ties with other countries such
as Russia, China, and Iran, while still maintaining ties with the West? What is
the risk that Turkey could be alienated in the process?
The "what Turkey lost" debate
Since the March 1 vote, discussions on whether Turkey
should have offered full cooperation, or not, have focused on realpolitik; the
U.S. will go to war with or without Turkey, so why not profit? The subjects that
have arisen from the various debates over what Turkey may have "lost" due to the
rejection of the motion include: a loss of U.S. confidence and a special bond
with the U.S.; a chance to secure a strategic bridgehead in Kurdish northern
Iraq and the opportunity for a Turkish military role in Iraq; no inclusion of
Turkey in the post-war stabilization & security force; a decrease of regional
influence due to a lost seat at the table; less Turkish access to U.S.
officials; the unclear status of Turkmens in northern Iraq; Kurds seen as the
new loyal ally of the U.S.; less U.S. support for Turkey's EU membership;
decreased importance of Incirlik base; doubts raised about the U.S.-Turkish
"strategic" partnership; a possible decrease of pro-Turkish U.S. influence at
the IMF; loss of a huge economic package; loss of millions of dollars to upgrade
ports and bases; damage to Turkey's image in the U.S.; less priority given to
Turkish companies in post-war reconstruction contracts; a setback for the
establishment of a Qualified Industrial Zone; decreased ability to counter the
powerful anti-Turkey lobbies and Armenian genocide claims; potential problems
with U.S. military purchases and contracts; potential problems with the Jewish
lobby and military relations with Israel; and U.S. pressure to resolve the
Cyprus and Aegean problems, making them more difficult to resolve.
Mutual interests survive
Despite a history of ups and downs during 50 years of
close relations, Turkish-American cooperation and mutual interests have proven
to be lasting.
While some Turks wonder if certain ties of the special
relationship have been damaged beyond repair, others are optimistic that with
time and hard work relations will be rebuilt. This is because the U.S.-Turkish
alliance cannot be destroyed in one day. Only time will tell if all wounds can
be healed quickly, before impairing scars prevent relations from transforming
back to what they used to be. The fence-mending visit to the U.S. by the Turkish
Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Uyur Ziyal, which begins on June 16, is
expected to set the stage for higher-level contacts.
Looking back, we see that Turkish-American relations
have endured many crises, such as the 1964 "Johnson letter", the 1971 hashish
crisis, and the 1974 embargo. One issue that repeatedly comes close to tearing
relations apart is the support congressmen give to Armenian genocide claims.
But despite low points in relations, there is a long
history of friendship and common understanding. Turkey has supported the U.S.
throughout many conflicts in the world since the Korean War, and throughout the
Cold War military cooperation grew stronger. Turkey has supported U.S. interests
in the region, and both countries have given support to one another in the
international area. The U.S. has been a supporter of Turkey since the days of
the 1947 Truman doctrine, and the Marshall plan. The U.S. also supported
Turkey's membership to NATO and the EU, offered military and economic
assistance, and supported efforts to capture Abdullah Ocalan, the terrorist
leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK/KADEK).
Turkey has played a valuable role in peacekeeping in a
range of areas from Somalia, to the Balkans, and more recently in Afghanistan.
Along with the U.S., Turkey has played a valuable role as a mediator in the
Caucasus and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the 1991 Gulf War
Turkey offered political and military cooperation, while it suffered great
losses due to decreased trade, tourism, economic instability and terrorism. For
over a decade Turkey facilitated U.S. monitoring of Iraq and operations in the
no-fly zones. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, both countries have
cooperated in building a Eurasian energy transport corridor and in promoting a
secular Turkish democratic model for Central Asia. After the Sept. 11 attacks,
Turkey supported the U.S. in NATO and was amongst the first to join the global
coalition against terror.
Despite continuous anti-Turkish lobbying activities,
the affection that has been cultivated by Turkish-American friendship survives.
In addition, decades of friendship, trust and cooperation have developed between
the military institutions of both countries. Throughout the many years, a vision
of shared interests and values has been a driving force behind cooperation. It
is hoped that after a stable Iraq emerges through regional and international
cooperation, U.S.-Turkish relations will continue to overcome obstacles, just as
they have in the past.
But even if U.S.-Turkish relations are for the time
damaged, and perhaps Incirlik will not have the same importance as it had in the
past, this does not mean Turkey's strategic importance has diminished. Its
geo-political and geo-strategic importance emanates from Turkey's location and
the fact it serves as a cultural and economic bridge. Its multi-dimensional
policies are influential in the Balkans, Middle East, Mediterranean, Caucasus
and Central Asia. Because Turkey has special international standing as a
crossroad of civilizations and cultures, and is a bridge between the East and
West, underestimating Turkey's geo-political significance would inevitably limit
the bridge of cooperation between Eurasia and the West.
The U.S. also has an interest in a stable, secular, and
democratic Turkey that is incorporated into the West. As a Muslim ally, Turkey
has, does and can further help America win hearts and minds, while sending
positive messages to the Islamic world. The role Turkey can play was recently
demonstrated during a June Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in
Tehran when the Turkish foreign minister urged democratization. As a friend and
ally of Israel, and as a nation that has protected Jews, Turkey can also help
cultivate better relations between Israel, Turkey's allies and the Muslim world.
The U.S. particularly needs Turkey's cooperation
because it is a secular Muslim NATO ally and member of the global war on terror.
While jointly combating terrorism, Turkey can convey U.S. intentions and
demonstrate that fighting terrorism has not turned into a fight against Islam.
Now that the U.S. president has made a commitment to the implementation of the
"road map," Turkey can help change attitudes about violence and help build
democracy in the Middle East. As the U.S. elaborates on a shared vision for the
region, Turkey can support U.S. regional and post-Saddam plans.
A new era: What will it bring?
What happens in the region, especially northern Iraq,
is expected to influence how Turkish-American relations evolve. How the U.S.
will manage security in Iraq and who will run post-Saddam Iraq are key issues.
It is feared that instability or a civil war in Iraq could have a spillover
effect in Turkey and elsewhere, or could lead to the intervention of Turkey or
Iran. If Iraq begins to break-up without an adequate long-term U.S. or
international military presence to provide security, calls for the creation of a
new Islamic state may also complicate the situation.
Regarding Turkey's role in a transforming region, the
U.S. will need Turkey to maintain stability in Iraq after the war. This is one
of the reasons why it is in the interests of the U.S. to help maintain stability
in Turkey, and to prevent the breakup of Iraq. If, however, destabilization
occurs in Iran or elsewhere, both the U.S. and Turkey would risk losing the
support of neighboring countries to build stability.
Some U.S. officials have voiced concern about Turkey's
East or West orientation, and whether Turkey is changing its foreign policy
orientation due to consultations it has had with neighboring countries. At a
time when the U.S. exhibits less and less tolerance for diplomacy, Turkey has
sought to maintain dialogue with Iran and Syria in the interests of stability.
It appears, however, that Washington has been disturbed with the dialogues that
have taken place over the past few months.
Several U.S. officials have stated that Turkey's
relations with Syria and Iran should be compatible with U.S. policies (which
seems to imply that Turkey should support possible U.S. action against Syria or
Iran no matter how hasty). In a recent interview, Richard Perle, an advisor to
the Pentagon, stated that it would be disastrous if Ankara does not provide the
backing the U.S. seeks regarding Iran and Syria.
After a recent visit to the U.S., TUSIAD Chairman
Tuncay Ozilhan stated that Turkey should support U.S. policies in the Middle
East in order to repair relations. Wolfowitz told the visiting TUSIAD delegation
that the ball is now in Turkey's court. There have been various other reports
that the U.S. expects Turkey to solve the crisis of confidence and that it
expects cooperation with its Middle East policies.
What is worrying is that further damage to relations
may result if the U.S. escalates its confrontation with Iran or Syria without
rallying international support. Problems may arise if the U.S. views Turkey as
befriending "rogue" neighbors, or members of an "axis of evil". It is of utmost
importance that the U.S., Turkey, the international community, the EU, and the
International Atomic Energy Agency all work together to investigate concerns
over Iran's nuclear program.
In the meantime, Turkey will have to try to maintain
good relations with the U.S. while trying to forge regional understanding and
continue consultations with neighboring countries. As in the past, Turkey may
not be in agreement with all U.S. policies, but this does not mean Turkey is
parting from the West. These consultative talks with countries located east of
Turkey should not be interpreted as a loss of Turkey's Western focus. It is only
reasonable to expect Turkey to try to maintain a dialogue with its neighbors,
even if Turkey has accused them in the past of tolerating terrorist groups that
targeted Turkey. Now that the U.S. has also become Turkey's neighbor, and both
the U.S. and Britain have gained a new status in Iraq, a goal of Turkish foreign
policy will be to prevent friction with Turkey's multidimensional foreign
At a time when hostilities are on the rise due to the
presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, and due to an escalation of violence between
Palestinians and Israelis, there is an urgent need for high-level diplomacy
between regional and international leaders. Like the EU, Turkey may also be in
search of ways to respond to a changing world. Public opinion in Turkey and the
EU has been worried about U.S. unilateral actions, and has led to discussions on
ways of developing greater independence in diplomatic and security affairs.
Other uncertainties in the Middle East are tied to the
role of oil in global affairs and the U.S. dependence on oil. There has been
growing concern that vested U.S. corporate oil interests are behind proposed
plans to redesign the region. Europeans are also concerned about the economic
causes of the war, such as the rivalry between the euro and dollar.
The argument that America wants to divide Europe
because the U.S. wants to remain a dominant economic power is gaining ground in
Europe. Although Europe is for the moment divided, the U.S. might still be
confronted with a resurgent, united and stronger Europe in the future. The
problem of differing values between Europe and America, cultural differences,
and differing views on the role international systems should play in global
affairs has led to a rift between allies. Some argue that increasing resentment
and opposition to the U.S. might even strengthen organizations such as the EU
and U.N., and encourage them to check American power. A leading think-tank has
recently warned that if there is to be reconciliation with the U.S. "some
leading Europeans will need to abandon their multipolar illusions." The
International Institute for Strategic Studies recommends that relations between
the U.S. and Europe should be based on the recognition that Washington is the
world's dominant power center. This would facilitate a transatlantic strategic
reconciliation and avoid rival power centers, says the think-tank report.
So what will the new era bring? Will Europe be an
economic and political rival, whose geopolitical interests in the Middle East
and elsewhere diverge from those of America? Or will a fragmented Europe pose
less of a threat to America?
(PART 4 will further discuss the impact of post-war developments on
Turkey and the U.S., focus on the need for cooperation, and look at the future
implications of U.S. geo-political strategies)
* * *
Congressmen are demanding to
know from Bush's hawkish advisors and strategists what are the risks of
long-term US military occupation.
As a friend of Israel, and as
a nation that has protected Jews, Turkey can contribute to the shaping of the
region by serving as a model of tolerance. Turkey has already offered to host
an international peace conference on the Middle East.
The money-hungry portrayal of
Turks was especially offensive because for decades Turks have not aspired to
manipulate and profit from the US political system, unlike many other ethnic
lobbies that work on a daily basis to shape policies according to their
Just as America once underwent
its own experiment in democracy, with the labor of people from all over the
world, Turkish-Americans have a duty to help America succeed in this newly
begun Iraqi experiment in democracy.
PART - IV -
The deterioration of Turkish-American relations has not
only upset Turks and Americans, it has made cooperation more difficult at a time
when it is in the mutual interests of the two nations to work together to
enhance global security. Political and military leaders on both sides are aware
of the need to preserve the strategic relationship between the two countries and
to build a post-war dialogue at all levels. But establishing a future oriented
dialogue requires that the U.S. overcome the presumption that those who were not
with America, were against it. High-ranking U.S. officials have ignored not just
Turkey, but France and Germany, because it is believed that a price must be paid
for not offering sufficient support.
Impact of post-war developments on Turkey
The aftermath of the Iraq war has made Turks feel
justified for having sought a larger coalition for the war and for requesting
clearer post-war plans. The current lawlessness in Iraq demonstrates that Turkey
was right to require as many guarantees as possible to try to ensure a secure
environment. At present, due to a lack of security and administration, the UN
estimates that more than 300,000 Iraqi children face death from acute
malnutrition, twice as many as before the invasion. It is now being debated
whether Iraqis were better off, or worse off, before the invasion. What the
world has been witnessing in Iraq is a political vacuum, ethnic and religious
strife, a lack of security, a lack of public services, unemployment, destroyed
infrastructure, a partially destroyed heritage, looted universities and
hospitals, no adequate health care, attacks on U.S. soldiers, and daily protests
for a better life.
U.S. post-war governance does not seem to have been
well planned, nor has the U.S. been able to form an interim civilian Iraqi
authority yet. Although delays were announced after Paul Bremer became the new
civil administrator of Iraq (replacing retired Gen. Jay Garner), the additional
time needed will hopefully create sound bodies and structures. One U.S. senator
who criticized initial stabilization and reconstruction efforts as having been
inadequate, summed up the situation saying, "The planning for peace was much
less developed than the planning for war."
In light of the above, one can understand how Turkey
was correct to fear the situation might get out of control. The argument that
Ankara's pre-war concerns were not fully taken into consideration, such as the
economic and humanitarian aftermath, appears to be sounder. Turkey also seems to
have been right in its assessment that there was no imminent threat, as no
weapons of mass destruction have yet been found. Both the U.S. and Britain are
now investigating how pre-war intelligence may have been manipulated before the
It is hoped that if there are illegal weapons programs,
the U.S. and international community will discover them. But doubts about U.S.
justifications for the war have led to increasing anti-American sentiment around
the world. Unfortunately, the humiliating presentation of Turks in the U.S.
media (as offering military support in exchange for money) has also created
anti-Americanism in Turkey and bred a sense of ill will that cannot be easily
forgotten. This money-hungry portrayal of Turks was especially offensive because
for decades Turks have not aspired to manipulate and profit from the U.S.
political system, unlike many other ethnic lobbies that work on a daily basis to
shape policies according to their self-interests. Since the Korean War and days
of the Cold War, Turks have sought to establish a relationship with the U.S. as
Foreign policy experts in both countries must consider
how increasingly negative attitudes about America can affect Turkish foreign
policy, and how it may place limitations on providing support to U.S. policies
in the future. If U.S. policies become even more unpopular, and global
anti-Americanism increases, the beginning of a backlash may further strain
relations, especially if hardliners & neoconservative ideologists continue to
aggressively try to reshape the Middle East.
Impact of post-war developments on America
Not only has Turkey's image been damaged in the U.S.,
but America's image has also suffered due to the failure to convince the world
the U.S. was pursuing a legitimate and "just war" (see former President Jimmy
Carter's arguments for a just war, March 9, 2003, International Herald Tribune).
Statements by the UN that some evidence presented by the U.S. was not credible,
has also hurt America's image, as well as the issue of whether intelligence was
used selectively to create fear.
Many countries throughout the world did not have a
sound understanding of America's new policies, and felt that the U.S. did not
adequately take into consideration their sensitivities and concerns. At a cost
to bilateral and multilateral relations, the U.S. proved to Turks it can conduct
a war in Turkey's backyard, with or without Turkey, while it proved to the world
that America does not need to respect international law or alliances. However,
countries around the world would like to see the U.S. formulate its policies and
manage its relations in the interests of world harmony, and support the
international community to develop methods of conflict prevention and
The deterioration of U.S. relations with certain allies
demonstrates the need for the U.S. to communicate better through its diplomatic
relations. Because there is a link between America's image and the success of
the foreign policies it conducts, America will need to try harder to explain its
policies though enhanced public diplomacy.
Americans question goals of war
Not only have the emerging facts about Iraq and pre-war
decision-making damaged America's international standing, they have weakened the
administration at home. Although Americans in general have strongly supported
the war, U.S. congressmen are angry that the Bush administration has
continuously failed to consult in depth with Congress about the costs, methods,
duration and goals of rebuilding Iraq. They are demanding to know from Bush's
hawkish advisors and strategists what are the risks of a long-term U.S. military
occupation (and where is the garden of democracy)? In a testy exchange, Senator
Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, berated Wolfowitz for the administration's
failure to acknowledge publicly that the postwar efforts would cost billions of
dollars, require years of involvement and get the United States bogged down.
There is also greater awareness that the U.S.-led war
appears to be part of a U.S. geopolitical strategy. Some political observers
believe that a main goal seems to have been regime change to serve U.S. and
Israeli national interests, not regional or international security. Discussions
about the "costs of inaction," are now being replaced with discussions about
what "realpolitik" strategies may cost America.
Some commentators have stated that the Bush
administration's Middle East policy is driven by the pro-Israel lobby, which has
a close relationship with neoconservative ideologues. According to some
observers, the neoconservative goal of seeking American empire coincides with
Israel's desire for hegemony over the Middle East (and this is why in order to
enhance Israel's security they believe that operations in Iran and Syria might
be next). Other political commentators have been questioning the role of the
religious right and its influence on foreign policy (many on the far right
believe in the "final days" theology and the special place Israel holds as the
end of the world approaches). For various reasons, there are also a number of
Americans who have expressed skepticism that the war in Iraq has served the
interests of the American people. Others have claimed that it was the only way
to save America from its present downslope.
Turkish-American contributions to improving relations
During this sensitive period of strained relations, and
after the turbulence of the Wolfowitz interview, each side feels the other owes
an apology. So, how will relations overcome a mutual loss of confidence? What is
expected from Turkey? What is expected from the U.S.? It is evident that a
mutual effort must be made to repair relations, otherwise the cool atmosphere
could get worse.
Even if Turkish-Americans are right to be frustrated,
and are not sufficiently rewarded for all their efforts and years of hard work,
they must not show any signs of discouragement. With a unified voice they will
have to work even harder if they wish to improve Turkish-American relations, and
not expect to see any quick results. The attitudes and judgments they reflect
can have an unprecedented effect on long-term relations, so they must also be
careful not to stir controversy as they try to revive a healthy dialogue. While
Turkish-Americans do everything they can to heal the wounds, they should also
avoid becoming part of the problem and being a judge of past events. Their good
faith should be used to foster bilateral exchanges and cultivate understanding.
If a strong U.S.-Turkish alliance is to be maintained,
and American-Turkish relations are to be strengthened, both Turks and Americans
must understand what went wrong and what caused a deterioration of relations.
Turkish-Americans must be able to see how both Turkey and the U.S. made
mistakes. They need to understand the complexity of events, as well as the
political and security issues that were involved. Especially due to the unfair
media coverage, they must make Turkey's positions better understood in America.
This can only be done if they are prepared to explain to policymakers,
congressmen, the administration, the American public, and to friends of Turkey,
that a combination of many factors led to the rejection of the motion. This is
particularly important because Turkey has been unjustly accused of "betrayal."
But understanding what went wrong before and during the
March 1 vote might be as difficult as understanding what went wrong during the
confusing voting process in the last U.S. presidential election. It should be
kept in mind also that there are events and incidents that are not known to us.
It is therefore difficult to make sense of events either from Turkey, or from
afar, and it may take a long time before what really happened is better
understood. Lastly, Turkish-Americans should not feel distanced from Turks who
may have different interpretations of the pre-war negotiations and events.
The much-needed contributions that Turkish-Americans
will be making to strengthen relations will be unprecedented and invaluable.
They will be playing an important role in helping Turkey and the U.S. refocus on
rebuilding relations based on mutual interests according to these new
developments. Turkey will need their vision for developing new policies,
redefining Turkey's relationship with the U.S., and for devising new lobbying
and public relations strategies.
Turkish-Americans can also help America see the
complexities of this region, rather than to see the world in black and white. As
Americans they should make an extra effort at this time of ongoing violence in
Iraq to support those who are risking their lives and struggling to bring to
this region all the benefits of being an America--benefits which are now enjoyed
by Turkish-Americans. Such an endeavor will no doubt be difficult. Just as
America once underwent its own experiment in democracy, with the labor of people
from all over the world, Turkish-Americans have a duty to help America succeed
in this newly begun Iraqi experiment in democracy. Through joint efforts all
Turks can also participate in advancing shared ideals so that Turkey's neighbor,
an ancient nation of diverse people, can live in a peace and prosperity.
Need for cooperation
With Saddam no longer in power and Iraq's
infrastructure destroyed, destabilization of the region is a possibility. No
matter how well intentioned U.S. troops are, they will face many hardships and
unfortunately be targeted as long as the security situation does not improve and
Iraqis see themselves as victims of occupiers. Americans cannot be comforted
that their sons and daughters will soon be out of harms way unless a better life
is in the grasp of the Iraqi people.
Although there is a triumphant feeling due to the
downfall of an evil dictator, many predict that the support of Turkey and other
nations is required for long-term success. They maintain that the U.S. needs the
political support of allies and the international community so it can establish
security and gain the financial and human support necessary to rebuild Iraq.
Under these circumstances, Turkey should be ready to take on responsibilities
through bilateral or multinational means. As an ally and strategic partner of
the U.S., Turkey should do all it can to help the U.S. bring stability to Iraq
(it should be noted here that there have been troubling reports that the U.S.
has not been helpful in providing security for the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad,
and problems have arisen due to the mistreatment of some Turks).
U.S. officials have reportedly been asking Turkey about
its vision of the Middle East. It should be remembered that Turks have a history
of living harmoniously with diverse communities in the Middle East, centuries
before U.S. and British forces entered the region. This is due to a legacy of
multiculturalism and has been well documented during the Ottoman Empire when the
"millets" system allowed self-governing communities to preserve their own laws
As a friend of Israel, and as a nation that has
protected Jews since the Inquisition, Turkey can contribute to the shaping of
the region by serving as a model of tolerance. Turkey has already offered to
host an international peace conference on the Middle East, whose success would
also reflect positively on U.S. diplomacy in the region. However, a more active
role for Turkey in helping to create a new vision and reality in the Middle East
can only be fruitful if the implementation of the "road map" is imposed on both
parties in a fair and even handed manner. Otherwise there is no need to discuss
visions of the Middle East because the peace process will be derailed (if not
already due to the surprising resurgence of violence just a few days after the
historic June summit).
Not only in Iraq, but elsewhere in the region, Turkey
can be part of a stabilization force to promote peaceful coexistence between all
ethnic and religious groups. Turkey's experience in peacekeeping, as well as the
cumulative experience Turks have from centuries of diplomacy and trade, are all
assets that can be put to use. Turkey's experience and knowledge of the region
is also needed due to administrative and security problems. There are many other
areas where Turkey can make contributions, such as by setting up joint programs,
sending educators, health professionals, engineers, and other experts.
It is essential that Turkey and America carefully work
together to call for democracy in the Middle East. This will help spread
tolerance and fight extremism in all its ugly and dangerous forms, and will
ensure peace for future generations.
But, if the U.S. vision of the Middle East is driven by
an unclear and controversial neo-conservative led foreign policy, regional and
Turkish leaders may have some doubts about whether democracy can successfully be
imported. Plans to reshape and democratize Middle Eastern nations may not seem
realistic to leaders who are more familiar with the region (neoconservative
plans envision a domino effect in the region in order to spread U.S. influence,
democracy and compatible economic systems in order to increase U.S. national
security and fight fundamentalism).
Turks are ready, willing and able to support
U.S.-Turkish cooperation in order to bring peace to Israel and to create a
Palestinian state so that hostilities and hatred can be replaced with
coexistence and regional prosperity. If Israelis and Palestinians are left to
themselves, violence will beget violence, and the ongoing terror that is spread
by operations conducted by both the Israelis and the Palestinians will spread
greater hatred and destruction. In addition to any multilateral efforts that are
coordinated with Turkey, a peace process should give priority to monitors, a
timetable, an imposed NATO or UN force, and the rebuilding of a strong
Palestinian security force. Otherwise calls for peace and democracy, whether
from Turkey or other nations, will be drowned out by an eye for an eye violence.
The presence of U.S. peacekeepers to help implement the road map, would also
boost America's image in the Middle East, and decrease resentment in the region
due to the U.S. military intervention in Iraq. But to ensure lasting peace in
the region, another question needs to be answered: can a balance of power in the
region be established with a nuclear-armed Israel?
Where will U.S. Foreign Policy & Geopolitical Strategy
Just at a time when the world needed unifying, has
America created a more divided and hostile world? In the name of security and
fighting terror, is the U.S. spreading fear and hostility, creating more anti-Westernism,
anger, and terrorists? There is a great deal of confusion over how a world
without rules can survive and how using force will be justified. If the U.S.
begins to listen more to world opinion it might soften the aggressive style that
its recent policies have exhibited. The U.S. should demonstrate that it is a
superpower that is aware that it must coexist with others who may not always see
eye to eye. Although this new style of aggressively advancing a new foreign
policy could set the stage for global lawlessness and spread greater fear of
American imperialism, there is still time for the U.S. to exercise more
leadership, and less power in order to ensure more security for everyone.
If the world aspires to fostering shared goals and
ideals, it must put past differences behind it, renew old bonds, and not see
recent events as the arrogance or abuse of American power. The international
community must make its case that if the world is redesigned in haste amidst
increasing uncertainty and hostility, there is the danger that the international
system will collapse and be replaced by chaos. This will not only erode the
belief in universal values, but also destroy the idealism that makes America
attractive. The international community must also accept the fact that the U.S.
is the world's sole superpower, and it will seek to protect its interests and
satisfy its geopolitical and security needs.
As the world faces new opportunities and challenges
amidst increasing political, economic and military problems, the international
community must come together to reshape the global system. As a result of the
war on terror, there are pressing issues that need to be resolved in order to
assure global order. But how will nations cooperate to counter terrorist threats
when many have lost confidence in the U.S.-led war on terrorism? How will
nations agree on a common definition of terrorism, or when preemptive action and
self-defense are legitimate under international law?
Last year, after the U.S. used a drone in Yemen for a
missile strike against suspected terrorists (what some call a targeted
assassination), many questions were left unanswered. The strike appeared to be a
preemptive action carried out with the cooperation of the Yemeni government. As
Wolfowitz explained, it was the type of preemption that can be expected in the
future when the U.S. decides to take unilateral action. Because this declaration
was made when a shocking bin Laden tape had just been released, making it appear
as though the daring strikes and policy were a challenge to terrorists, it can
be debated whether such bold declarations and measures prevent terror attacks or
lead to further violence. The difficulty in justifying preemptive measures was
also demonstrated when the Bush administration argued that there was a
POSSIBILITY that Iraq MIGHT give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists in
The U.S. will also have to reevaluate the domestic
issues that have arisen as a result of its decision to go to war. Back in 2002,
Senator Robert Byrd urged caution when he said, "Decisions involving war and
peace should never be rushed or muscled through in haste. Our founding fathers
understood that, and wisely vested in the Congress, not the president, the power
to declare war." Byrd urged the Congress to carefully consider Bush's requests
for new war powers "on our own timetable and avoid the pressure to rush to
judgment on such an important matter." The senator also asked "Could the U.S. be
laying the groundwork for a brutal civil war in Iraq? Could this proposed policy
change precipitate a deadly border conflict between the Kurds and Turkey?"
Another key concern was expressed by Congressman Dennis
Kucinich on March 20, when Bush commanded U.S. forces to go to war. The
congressman declared that the decision to go to war was in violation of the
Constitution and in violation of American traditions of defensive war that have
lasted since George Washington. While he criticized the mainstream media for not
giving due attention to these developments, Kucinich drew attention to the
consequences of placing in "jeopardy of our status as a legitimate and just role
model in international politics."
While U.S. troops continue fighting in Iraq for the
advance of freedom, Americans can be proud that a new generation of young men
and women in uniform are demonstrating the good will of the American people
abroad. Their intentions to build democracy should be encouraged at a time when
much of the world is struggling for human rights and an end to oppression. Yet
while these troops carry out their dangerous mission for a safer and freer
world, the debate continues on whether an invasion of Iraq was necessary to
defend the security of the U.S. and preserve and protect the interests of the
American people. In the meantime the rest of the world looks on wondering how
U.S. power might be used; with or without regard for other nations and common
values. The emergence of a powerful America that no longer fights to preserve
universal ideals might be viewed as a threat to the rest of the world.