The Geopolitical Origins of Turkish-American Relations: Revisiting the Cold War Years

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ALL AZIMUTH-A JOURNAL OF FOREIGN POLICY AND PEACE, vol.3, no.1, pp.19-34, 2014 (ESCI) identifier identifier


Critical geopolitics provides ways of looking at the world and questioning the role of geopolitics in foreign policymaking processes, as opposed to accepting them as objective and natural. From this theoretical perspective, this article aims to apply critical geopolitics to the case of Turkish-American relations with respect to how the United States (US) viewed Turkey's geography and how the Turkey-US alliance has been shaped by the foreign and security policies of the latter. The article argues that the alliance was a product of the US' Cold War geopolitical discourse, wherein the US considered Turkey to be a strategic ally against Soviet expansion. Thereafter, the declaration of the Truman Doctrine on March 12, 1947, led to increased US military ties with Turkey and became the basis for Turkey's inclusion in NATO in 1952. As a consequence, Turkey began to be defined as the anchor of NATO's strategic southern flank and a barrier against the communist threat in the Middle East and the Mediterranean throughout the Cold War. Turkey has also been a major recipient of American military equipment and was a supplier of important military facilities for monitoring the Soviet Union. The paper also argues that while Turkey generally fits within the US' geopolitical designs and that these two countries cooperated on numerous efforts during the Cold War, the Cyprus problem in that period revealed the limits of US geopolitical discourse.