CIAO DATE: 01/07

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Volume 4, Number 3, Fall 2005


Turkish-American Relations from 1945 to 2004
By Omer G. Isyar



Almost all American media, scholars, and politicians talk about the growing anti- Americanism all over the world today.1 Interest on this matter grows up every day. In this paper we will try to examine that anti-American initiatives and reactions in Turkish foreign policy2 essentially exhibit spasmodic and conjuncture characteristics. After 1945, Turkish- American relations are both strengthening and aggravating from time to time; however, general tendency of relations depicts a very positive image. Recently, because of the Iraqi crisis, Turkish reactions against American policies have significantly climbed up.

In the 19th century, the commercial (economical) facade of the Turkish-American relations has become dominant. The political relations came into considerations in a concrete way after the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. The American government has begun to perceive the Ottoman Empire as ‘the key of East’.3 The linkages between two states were mainly stationary between two world wars. The primary reason for that was the World Economic Crisis in 1929. The American government has returned to ‘isolation strategy’ during that period and suffered too much economically from that crisis. After World War II, for about 60 years, Turkey has accepted many different foreign policy patterns in its relations with America. We especially observed the following three diverse reactionary conducts of Turkey against the United States of America during that period: within-bloc reactions (e.g. together with Western European countries); out-of-bloc reactions (e.g. together with the Soviet Union and/or the non-aligned bloc reactions); and unilateral reactions. Turkey has also posed two different behaviors vis-à-vis foreign threats: bilateral reactionary behaviors with the United States and multilateral reactionary behaviors involving also the United States. On the other hand, it might be said that Turkey has presented four different initiative models in relations with the United States of America: unilateral initiatives in spite of the United States; unilateral initiatives supported by the United States; bilateral initiatives together with the United States; and multilateral initiatives involving also the United States.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Turkey has encountered with formidable security problems stemmed from the Cold War rather than economic ones. But it was not able to fight alone with all these threats. After Soviet occupation of all the Balkan states (with exception of Greece) in 1945, Turkey has given a great importance to the Middle East, so that it has augmented its relations with the countries in the region. This change in its approach was for benefits of both Turkey and the United States of America. Since then, a new ‘balance of power’ structure has been forged in that area. Thus, Turkey has begun to be involved in multilateral structures to save its interests. Within this framework, Turkey joined the Western bloc in scope of the Truman Doctrine in 1947. Its economic and military positions were significantly fortified by the 1948-Marshall Plan. Eventually, Turkey became a member state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952. Hence, its reactions against the Soviet Union have been undertaken within a multilateral framework under the NATO.

Full Text (PDF, 32 Pages, 133 KB)