Major Shift

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Turkish-U.S. relations became more intense during the Cold War era. The parameters of the Cold War were different than today. The world system was bipolar, divided under this balance of power. By joining NATO and taking its place in the western bloc, Turkey found itself standing on the western side and allied with the United States against the Soviet Union. Until the end of the Cold War, the U.S. policy makers focused on Turkey in only one specific dimension: Turkey’s problems with Cyprus or the Cuban Missile Crisis had mattered for the U.S. only within the wider picture of the U.S. policy concerning the Soviet Union. U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War was using this approach not only with respect to Turkey. There was a tradition in U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War to engage with countries as they related the Soviet Union and the balance of power.

After the Cold War, just like everything else, U.S. foreign policy had changed. The world was no longer bipolar, but unipolar. The balance of power system crumbled, it left in its spot a hegemonic world order. In this era, U.S. foreign policy was also trying to reshape itself according to the new parameters of the world. The World Trade Organization (WTO), NATO, the EU and all other international organizations were evolving while the nations were changing their foreign policies.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks were one of the biggest tragedies in the world’s history. On that morning the world’s new order and its new rules began to shape. The new alliances, parameters, and engagement rules started to be designed. Being the world’s authority and facing the historic tragedies pushed the U.S. the take some extreme actions in order to express its foreign policy. The new foreign policy of the U.S. was shaped under these unusual circumstances. Before the parameters of the new era were shaped, the U.S. had to take immediate actions to design its foreign policy. The newly elected George W. Bush government consisted of the neoconservative ideologist who served in the George Bush Senior’s administration shaped the new foreign policy values after the Cold War. The neoconservative ideology adopted itself to the post-9/11 era. In this new era actions of the U.S. foreign policy makers were influenced by neoconservative thought. The neoconservative foreign policy was based on realism and the unilateral approach made the military option more important in foreign policy than diplomacy.

The new approach in U.S. foreign policy also affected America’s immediate relations with other countries and in this case with Turkey. Turkey, by taking its side with the western world during the Cold War, has found itself in very critical situations. Turkey’s immediate foreign policy concerns had never been the priority for the U.S. during the Cold War era. Starting from the Cuban Missile Crises, through the Johnson and the continuation of the Cyprus crisis, Turkey’s immediate foreign policy concerns were always underestimated by the U.S. due to the parameters of the Cold War. Yet, Turkey never abandoned the alliance with America during and after the Cold War, especially right after the Cold War. Turkey cooperated with the U.S. in many different fields in order to take its place in the new world order.

The immediate post-Cold War era was a very fortunate time for Turkey and the U.S. The two countries had common interests. In addition to military cooperation in Europe and Africa, Turkey joined with the U.S. during the Gulf War. Turkey could be considered the most cooperative country with the U.S. during the entire Gulf War. Even though Turkey’s security and economic concerns became major questions in Turkish public opinion, the country never stepped out from the partnership. Obviously, Turkey was not the only side valuing the relationship and taking actions for it. Also the U.S. and its foreign policy makers during and after the Gulf War appreciated Turkey and showed their interest in Turkey. Even thought Turkey experienced security problems after the Gulf War and its financial losses have never been compensated, the relations remained good.

The 9/11 era and the new U.S. foreign policy ideology did not only affect the U.S. alone but it also affected Turkish-U.S. relations. In the new foreign policy program Turkey’s concerns or sensitivities were never seen as a major concern. It was always a secondary issue to consider. The new American way of approaching Turkey obviously affected the countries’ dialogue during the Iraq Operation process. While the U.S. was asking for Turkey’s support for the Iraq War, the request looked simple and easy. The only thing U.S. asked from Turkey was opening its borders for the U.S. soldiers who would use Turkish territories while conducting the Iraq Operation. This request might look simple but there were a number of questions and parameters behind this simple request. The entire Turkish public and the decision makers had many questions and concerns in mind. Turkish public opinion needed to be listened to and their questions needed to be answered.

Right after the failure of the March 1st tezkere in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Turkish-U.S. relations moved into a very sensitive era. According to the some analysts this new era would be the end of Turkish-U.S. relations. According to others this would be just a new beginning of a different kind of relationship. In this specific research it is very important to analyze the exact breaking point in the relations which is the March 1st tezkere crisis. In the immediate reactions to tezkere, both parties blamed each other for its failure. In this research the main objective will be to analyze the reasons, parameters, and the dimensions of the failure of the March 1st tezkere.

The March 1st tezkere is a milestone in the mutual relationship, and the way it failed will always be a major question in the minds of the people. In order to understand the future of Turkish-U.S. relations and their new impact, the reasons of tezkere’s failure must be analyzed. In this book, more than describing both the U.S. and Turkey’s foreign policy to understand the effects of tezkere, the focus will be on American foreign policy and its new dimensions. The U.S. is more powerful country that carries the economic and political international advantage. In this case, the U.S. is the decision maker in Turkish-U.S. relations. In these circumstances, research and focus on U.S. foreign policy will be important to understand the causes and effects of tezkere’s failure.

Burak Küntay