Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Turkey needs to jump on the bandwagon

U.S. war planners were dealt a blow March 1, as the Turkish
Parliament rejected a bill to allow the United States to use
military bases in the southern portion of their country. The bill
fell three votes short. But, if passed, it would have meant as many
as 62,000 American combat troops could have been based in Turkey to
open a northern front against Iraq.

Turkey is the only Muslim country with both strategic value in
the Middle East and any semblance of a democracy. The surprise
defeat of the bill that would have opened up a northern passageway
to U.S. troops in exchange for $15 billion in loans and grants, may
be a victory for democracy, as polls show as many as 94 percent of
the Turkish people are against a war with Iraq.

Despite the overwhelming majority of Turkish citizens against a
war, it is still puzzling to try and understand why the Parliament
would have voted against this bill when the future of Turkey is
extremely dependent on U.S. support.


Turkey unquestionably knows the United States will go to war
with Iraq, with or without Turkey’s backing, if the United States
feels a war is the only way to ensure total disarmament by Iraq and
to force a regime change.

U.S. government officials have said they can fight a war and win
without Turkey’s support. But the war would likely be bloodier and
longer because of the logistical and strategic inconveniences lack
of Turkish cooperation would create.

It was the United States who applied pressure to France, Germany
and Belgium just weeks earlier when these three nations vetoed NATO
protection for Turkey in case of Iraqi aggression.

The impact of another war on Turkey’s economy would likely be
devastating because of the flood of Iraqi refugees. It was
devastating in 1991 during the first Gulf War. This time, the
United States is prepared to give Turkey $15 billion in loans and
grants to cushion the impact a war in the region would have on
Turkey’s economy.

Turkey has also been seeking U.S. support to secure billions of
dollars of future loans. American support was crucial when the
country went through an economic crisis in 2001. The political
support Turkey has received from the United States in their quest
to join the European Union could also be in jeopardy.

The U.S. government will be less likely to use its political
capital to help Turkey in the future if the United States cannot
receive support from the Turks at times of war.

If Turkey does not offer critical support during a war with
Iraq, the United States is unlikely to give them a voice in the
post-war restructuring of Iraq. Not having a voice in the
rebuilding of Iraq is something the Turkish government fears
because of worries that a war with Iraq could lead the Kurdish
refugees in northern Iraq to declare themselves an independent
state, which could inspire Turkey’s own Kurdish minority to follow
a similar path.

In the days following the surprising vote again U.S. troop
deployment, the Turkish economy took a major hit. On Monday,
Turkey’s stock market plunged 12.5 percent and the Lira, the
country’s currency, lost 3 percent to the U.S. dollar.

Some economists, including Tevfik Aksoy of Global Securities,
believe the plunge was actually cushioned by the hope that the
Turkish government would reconsider a resolution to allow U.S.
troops. The economy will likely rebound if Turkey’s parliament
reconsiders the bill. If the parliament decides against
reconsidering the bill or if the United States decides it cannot
wait any longer for a second vote, a further plunge in the stock
market would almost be a certainty.

In a potential moment of clarity for the Turkish people and
their government, Turkish citizens elected Recep Tayyip Erdogan to
parliament with an overwhelming 84.7 percent of the vote this past

Erdogan had been the de-facto leader for the Justice and
Development Party, Turkey’s governing party. He has also been a
strong advocate for U.S. troop deployment in Turkey. He will likely
be named the country’s Prime Minister later this week and will be
able to remove members in his Cabinet that have dissented on this

Because of this new development, it appears more likely Turkey
will join the United States and its coalition of nations who
support a war with Iraq if Saddam Hussein forces such a mission to
be undertaken. Not only would compliance be a wise move for
Turkey’s future, but it will make the potential war safer for U.S.
and British troops, Turkish citizens near the Iraqi border and the
Iraqi people — something we should all desire.

Matt Modell ([email protected]) is a senior
majoring in journalism and political science.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *