Turkey, Between Rocks and Hard Places

Posted: November 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Foreign Policy | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Latest post at Foreign Exchange is up, basically looking at a note I wrote a year ago about Turkey and unpacking why it’s still relevant. I wrote the note after President Obama announced his decision to move the NATO missile defense shield to Turkish shores, shortly before I packed off for South Asia. Here’s what I thought then:

Turkey has historically seen itself, and been resented by its former colonies, as a European power. After trying repeatedly to join the European Union, and failing, Turkey has spent the last few years in a painful process of reinvention, electing a conservative Islamist government and making overtures to its eastward neighbors. This theocratic turn is hardly in the interest of Turkey’s NATO allies. Luckily, it has had only limited success.

Now, one NATO ally asks Turkey to grant access to its shores to deploy missile systems against a Middle Eastern neighbor, and thereby to trade in any hard-earned goodwill in the region and risk its own security. Given its history, Turkey seems ill-suited to the region’s club of theocracies; but it is unfair to ask it to trade it this tenuous sense of belonging after summarily denying its more natural place in Europe. Moreover, as a NATO ally, Turkey has treaty rights to better protection than to be asked to play a dangerous and antagonistic role towards its own neighbors on behalf of a community to which it has only partial access.

For an updated version that takes into account some more recent headlines and current developments, go here.

One Comment on “Turkey, Between Rocks and Hard Places”

  1. 1 shazia said at 4:51 pm on November 15th, 2010:

    their people are resilient, very hardworking and go about their lives with minimum dramatics, unlike the neighbors and region to the east of them. the more difficult challenges are the internal cultural ones which as the income levels rise will also iron themselves out.

Leave a Reply