Turkey’s currency crisis and standoff with the United States over the imprisonment of an American pastor have exposed the crumbling edifice of the two countries’ Cold War-era partnership. Rather than hold out hope that Turkey will return to the Western fold, US and European policymakers must consider a new policy toward the country... Moreover, tariffs allow Erdoğan to blame his country’s economic woes on America, rather than on his own government’s incompetence... It is still possible that the Turkish government will find a way to release Brunson, and that US President Donald Trump, anxious to demonstrate fealty to the evangelicals who form a core part of his base, will rescind the tariffs... But even if the immediate crisis is resolved, the structural crisis in US-Turkish relations – and Western-Turkish relations generally – will remain.We are witnessing the gradual but steady demise of a relationship that is already an alliance in name only. Though the Trump administration is right to have confronted Turkey, it chose not only the wrong response, but also the wrong issue.The relationship between Turkey and the West has long been predicated on two principles, neither of which obtains any longer.
- The first is that Turkey is a part of the West, which implies that it is a liberal democracy.
- Yet Turkey is neither liberal nor a democracy. It has effectively been subjected to one-party rule under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and power has become concentrated in the hands of Erdoğan, who is also the AKP’s leader.
- Under Erdoğan, checks and balances have largely been eliminated from the Turkish political system, and the president controls the media, the bureaucracy, and the courts.
- The second principle underlying Turkey’s “Western” status is alignment on foreign policy. Turkey recently bought more than 100 advanced F-35 fighter jets from the US. Yet, in recent years, Turkey has also supported jihadist groups in Syria, moved closer to Iran, and contracted to purchase S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia.
.. The Turks were not happy with the US decision to withdraw medium-range missiles from Turkey as part of the deal that ended the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
.. Turkey refused to give US military forces access to Incirlik Air Base during the Iraq war in 2003.
.. the Turkish government has been infuriated by America’s refusal to extradite the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan believes masterminded the 2016 coup attempt.
.. The anti-Soviet glue that kept the two countries close during the Cold War is long gone.
.. The problem is that the NATO treaty provides no mechanism for divorce.
.. Turkey can withdraw from the alliance, but it cannot be forced out.
- .. First, policymakers should criticize Turkish policy when warranted.
- they must also reduce their reliance on access to Turkish bases such as Incirlik,
- deny Turkey access to advanced military hardware like F-35s, and
- reconsider the policy of basing nuclear weapons in Turkey.
- Moreover, the US should not extradite Gülen unless Turkey can prove his involvement in the coup with evidence that would stand up in a US court and satisfy the provisions of the 1981 mutual extradition treaty.
- Nor should the US abandon the Kurds, given their invaluable role in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
- Second, the US and Europe should wait until the Erdoğan era is over, and then approach Turkey’s new leadership with a grand bargain.
- The offer should be Western support in exchange for a Turkish commitment to liberal democracy and to a foreign policy focused on fighting terrorism and pushing back against Russia.