Turkey-US ties: Nothing will be the same
It has been assessed that there is a natural “lowest level” and a “highest level” in Turkish-American relations. But neither the lowest level includes the end of the allied relationship nor the highest level includes a “strategic partnership” between the two countries that we see in the U.S.-U.K. or the U.S.-Israeli relations.
From the infamous Johnson letter to the closure of U.S. bases in 1975, the poppy planting crisis, the Cyprus intervention, the U.S. arms embargo, the food-ammunition supply to PKK terrorists by the U.S. helicopters and extends to the present-day U.S. alliance with the PYD - the Syrian extension of the PKK - and the F-35 and S-400 crises, Turkey-U.S. relations have undergone many important tests.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s characterization of the events of 1915 as “genocide” will, of course, be a new and crucial test for the ties. In addition to romantic statements where the American leader’s hostile “genocide” referral was “rejected” or considered “nonexistent,” countermeasures will, of course, be taken by Turkey in due time in a manner that might hurt the U.S. administration as well. Although many analysts think that Biden’s “genocide” statement, which seriously hurts Turkish honor, will not cause further tensions in already tense Turkish-US relations, it is worth looking at the situation a little more generally.
Just as some have downplayed the development to “Biden’s dementia,” it is impossible to reconcile a pessimistic approach realistically to that with the U.S. branding 1915 events as genocide; Turkey is seriously hurt. The international political conjuncture has changed. Failure to fully match Turkey’s foreign policy objectives and the objectives of its allies, especially in the conflicts over the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, Libya, Syria and Iraq, was a requirement of Turkey’s own national interests. Yet, these developments have isolated Turkey. Important Turkish friends, especially the Jewish lobby, who have been in support and solidarity with Turkey for almost half a century, have taken a seriously different position in this process.
“Perennial interests” should be important in international relations. The phrase “there are no eternal friends, no enemies; there are eternal interests” is not a joke but is the most important cornerstone of international politics.
“Precious loneliness” and tensions that originated from Turkey preferring “moral priorities” have led to a change in the perception of Turkey.
Of course, as all the people of this land, Turks and Armenians suffered greatly because of problems reflecting the occasional sensitive period. Allegations of “cooperation with the enemy” and deportation from border areas because of that reason and some other not so welcome reasons, the failure of the disintegrating empire to provide adequate security, Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian gang attacks caused a lot of pain to our people from all ethnic groups during that chaotic period. The loss and suffering of the majority were big, but such pains were much more traumatic for minorities. In the end, Anatolia lost many of its colors. With every color that left Anatolia, we all lost. Today, it is essential to commemorate this pain, to have mutual empathy, to heal wounds, to work to build a common future and even to ask each other for forgiveness.
“Genocide” is a very serious allegation. Of course, there have been mutual massacres. The deportation was, of course, a very serious atrocity. However, genocide cannot be proven by hearsay, such as “my grandfather told my father, or my grandmother told my mother;” Grandpa told me, or that’s what grandma said. Well, the grandparents of the Turks spoke a lot as well about the atrocities, massacres committed in east Anatolia by the Armenian gangs and in west Anatolia by Greek invading troops and local Greek gangs. This issue should be addressed by historians. Unfortunately, the protocols to research the events of 1915, signed in 2009 with the great efforts of the United States, the idea of the creation of an “Impartial Joint Historical Commission,” was vetoed by the Constitutional Court of Armenia.
Furthermore, the Joint Historical Commission probably should not investigate how many people died. It is not a question of how many Turks, Armenians, or Kurds died but whether the Ottomans have taken an official “genocide decision” and implemented it.
This new and powerful trauma in Turkey-U.S. relations will surely pass. However, those who have researched Biden’s political career for nearly 50 years will see that let alone standing by Turkey, he has never even been impartial but always charged against Turkey on all issues. And this issue is not the last leverage that can be used against Turkey, as claimed by some scholars.