Turkey. Anglo-American Security Interests 1945-1952: The First Enlargement of NATO

By Karpat, Kemal H. | The Middle East Journal, Autumn 2000 | Go to article overview

Turkey. Anglo-American Security Interests 1945-1952: The First Enlargement of NATO


Karpat, Kemal H., The Middle East Journal


Turkey. Anglo-American Security Interests 1945-1952: The First Enlargement of NATO, by Ekavi Athanassopoulou. London and Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1999. 274 pages. Bibl. to p. 267. Index to p. 274. $59.50.

This excellent seven-chapter book deals with a seminal event in Turkish diplomatic history: the developments which led to the acceptance of Turkey (and Greece) as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 15 February 1952), following the invitation of the Atlantic Council issued on 15 October 1951. The book is based on a careful and critical analysis of the US and British diplomatic correspondence, the memories of various Turkish, American, and British statesmen, newspaper and review articles, and secondary published sources. The author indicates how Turkey, benefitting from the moral support of the Soviet-Turkish Treaty of Friendship of 1921 and the Soviet-Turkish Treaty of Neutrality of 1925, finally reached an agreement with the British on Mosul in 1926. Ankara then went on to consolidate its relations with its Balkan neighbors through the Balkan Pact of 1934, in large part in order to counter Mussolini's expansionist threat, which also persuaded the British to acquiesce to Turkish demands to militarize the Dardanelles Straits through the Montreux Convention of 1936 and culminated in the treaty of alliance with Britain and France in 1939. Despite British pressure, Turkey did not enter World War Two until 1945, for it lacked sufficient arms and feared that the likely Soviet "help" would turn into occupation and subversion. The Treaty of 1939, according to Athanassopoulou, served as a legitimate basis for Turkey to ask for Western support against Soviet threats in the mid-1940s and, later, for membership in the European Council and European Economic Cooperation Organization. However, the same treaty provided the foundation for the British refusal to back Turkey's demands for membership in the European-Atlantic defense system, since the 1939 treaty, supposedly, provided Ankara with enough security guarantees-although in practice London was unable to meet its military and economic obligations. American military aid to Turkey (and Greece) to oppose Soviet expansion, which started with the Truman doctrine in 1947, was the beginning of a new and crucial era in Turkey's search for security and for its long-stated goal of becoming a member of the Western world. Turkey was eager to use London's influence with the Americans to expand and strengthen its relations with the United States in the hope that, in the end, Washington would assume responsibility for the defense of the Middle East (actually the Eastern Mediterranean) as part of the Western defense system. That is ultimately what happened, due partly to the heavy US military investment in Turkey and to the growing military potential of the Turkish armed forces to assure the defense of the Western Alliance.

Dr. Athanassopoulou examines also a variety of other developments, such as Turkey's contribution of a brigade to the defense of South Korea, its acceptance of parliamentary democracy, and the anti-British revolutionary movements in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, which increased Ankara's strategic importance in the eyes of the US officials and led to the demise of the British presence in the Middle East. …

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