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Unit 14: 
Turkish Lobbies Undergo a Period of Transition: The Need to Strengthen Old and New Leadership

Unit 1:  Who are lobbyists & what motivates them?
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 diplomacy.
Unit 8   What can be learned from powerful lobbies such as the Jewish/Pro-Israel lobby?
Unit 9   New approaches to educating & informing Turkish lobbying groups.
Unit 10  Media relations, advertising & professional communications skills.
Unit 11  Initiatives for individuals & public speaking.
Unit 12  Initiatives for communities, campaigns, & NGO'S.
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 & new leadership.
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 new leadership.

    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 article below).
        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 of lobbies.

    2. What kind of new leadership is needed in the post-September 11 world?


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?


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 realities.

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.

Turkish-American relations: Just one casualty of a new US foreign policy

  • 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.

Yasemin Dobra-Manço
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 global domination.

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 destruction.

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 threat.

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 weeks.

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 Powell's presentation.

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 analysts.

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 Turkish government.

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 uncertainties.

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 tolerated.

(PART 2 will discuss how pledges, misunderstandings and distrust led to U.S. disappointment over the March 1 vote)

* * *

Pledges, misunderstandings and distrust lead to U.S. disappointment

  • 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.


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 taken.

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 be examined.

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 vote

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 passed.

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 suits America.

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 March 20).

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 than anticipated."

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 problems.

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 world.

(PART 3 will examine how pre-war negotiations effected U.S.-Turkish relations, how mutual interests endure, and what a new era will bring)

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How pre-war negotiations affected Turkish-US relations

  • 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.


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 plans.

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 misleading America.

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 U.S. pressure.

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 policies.

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)

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The future of US-Turkish relations and US geopolitical strategy

  • 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 self-interests.

  • 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.


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 war.

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 partners.

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 resolution.

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 and leaders.

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 lead?

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 future.

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.

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