Turkey and the United States
Krogh, Peter F. (Peter Frederic)
Person InterviewedFuller, Graham E.
Wilkens, Katherine A.
Examines current issues in Turkish politics, including the relationship between the country's secular and Islamic elements and the problem of Kurdish political recognition.
Turkey, which lies astride two continents and controls the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits, has always been a country of great geostrategic importance. It has been called a crossroads between Europe and Asia, yet at the close of the 20th century Turkey itself was at a crossroads. Historically, Turkey has been a strong ally of the United States and the West. Democratic governance and a strong military determined to uphold secular institutions are the lasting legacy of its modern founder Mustafa Kemal, known popularly as Ataturk. Yet Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, also has a long history with Islam. In the past, the Turkish military intervened to restore secularism whenever it seemed politics were taking a turn towards religion. By the 1990s, however, it became clear that Islamic politics were staging a resurgence. Turkish policymakers were also confronted with the question of the Kurds, an ethnic minority that had fought a long battle for political recognition. On the international front, Turkey also faced challenges from its neighbors. To the north lay a Russia in transition; to the south, a hostile Iraq; and to the east and west, longtime opponents Armenia and Greece. Given these pressures internal and external, is Turkey an emerging regional power, or a nation in trouble? What are Turkey's strengths and weaknesses, and what form should American foreign policy towards Turkey take? Host Peter Krogh sits down to discuss these questions with Graham Fuller, Senior Political Scientist at the RAND corporation, and Katherine A. Wilkins, contributor to Great Decisions and international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Near East; Turkey;
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