Turkey: A Terrible Ally

In the burgeoning years of the Cold War, the young Republic of Turkey chose to align itself with the Western world. This decision was not made out of principle or ideology, but for pragmatic reasons. Collective fear of the Soviet Union drove them closer to NATO, staying true to the old adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Turkey’s geography proved invaluable, as they stood right on the doorstep of the USSR. They allowed NATO forces to be stationed in their country and even went as far as allowing the United States to base some of their nuclear weapons in the country. As was the case with most of NATO’s functions, the US-Turkish alliance outlived its usefulness after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Especially under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has proven itself unreliable, undemocratic, and outright belligerent to the United States and other nations at times. A clear example of this is the recent coup attempt in July 2016 that led to a massive crackdown across all of Turkey, including the jailing of several journalists, judges, and other uninvolved government and military officials who were ideological opponents of Erdogan. President Erdogan then accused the United States of assisting Fethullah Gulen in trying to oust his government. A less recent example of Turkey’s belligerence towards other nations is when they shot down a Russian jet in late 2015. This move could have very easily drawn the United States into a dispute with Russia. Turkey has also been shown to be unreliable with its recent pivot towards the still congealing Eurasian Alliance (China and Russia and their satellites). One of the more egregious actions of Turkey towards the United States occurred when Erdogan ordered his bodyguards to assault protesters across the street while on a diplomatic visit to the United States in May, 2017.

The US-Turkish alliance was one born out of convenience and was meant to combat a long dead foe. Post Cold War Turkey has shown itself as an unreliable, aggressive nation that has gone as far as assaulting US citizens on their own soil. With all that they’ve done, especially in recent years, they have proven themselves to be geo-strategically incompatible with the United States; a fruitless alliance, at least as long as Erdogan remains in power.