The Skeptics

A Worried Washington Confronts Turkey

The Obama administration is increasingly worried about Turkey’s apparent unreliability as a U.S. ally. The litany of grievances grows ever longer. Much to the dismay of U.S. officials, Ankara continues to make life difficult for the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq and openly opposes Washington’s hard-line strategy toward Iran. Equally disturbing from the standpoint of the Obama administration is Turkey’s increasingly cozy relationship with Russia and blatantly hostile attitude toward Israel.

I discuss the growing estrangement between the United States and its long-time NATO ally in an article in the latest issue of Mediterranean Quarterly. The article emphasizes that the tensions with Ankara are caused by far more than the specific issues involved. Those tensions illustrate a broader phenomenon—the growing unwillingness of previously friendly regional powers (even treaty allies such as Turkey) to follow Washington’s policy lead. Without a frightening and powerful mutual adversary to keep traditional security partners in line, we are almost certain to see such balky behavior become the norm. And, unfortunately, U.S. leaders are not adjusting well to the changed circumstances.