Turkish democracy and the American alliance

by Paul B. Henze


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Following a brief survey of American relations with the Ottoman Empire, this paper describes the establishment of relations with the Turkish Republic after World War I and the forging of the Turkish-American partnership after World War II. The bulk of the paper examines the development of this partnership, which has now endured more than 45 years since the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine in February 1947, in light of the domestic politics of both countries. Turkish military leaders have functioned as consistent trustees of democracy. When political deadlock has developed and military intervention in the political process has taken place, the Turkish military has always exerted itself to restore and improve the democratic process, with mixed success. The principal cause of friction with the United States has been Cyprus and relations with Greece. U.S. Congressional intervention on behalf of Greek interests has always complicated U.S. relations with Turkey, the most serious episode being the arms embargo imposed in 1974. The effect of this action was mitigated by actions of the Carter Administration during its final year and by the good feeling generated during the Reagan Administration. The United States has gained renewed appreciation of the value of the alliance with Turkey as a result of (1) the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis and its aftermath, and (2) the significance of Turkey in developing relations with the newly independent ex-Soviet Turkic/Muslim republics. Thus, the long-standing American alliance with Turkey is likely during the 1990s to evolve into a broad, constructive relationship with the whole Turkic world.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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