Turks should not hope for US volte-face – analyst

Those Turkish observers who do not believe that the United States is conspiring to damage their country should nonetheless not hope for a radical change in U.S. foreign policy direction, analyst Nicholas Danforth of the Bipartisan Policy Center said.

“Someone in Washington, the assumption seems to be, will eventually get around to making a sober calculation of the country’s priorities and realize that siding with Turkey, a large regional power, makes more sense than casting America’s lot with, say, the Syrian Kurds,” Danforth wrote.

“But, as even many of Turkey’s most sympathetic American interlocutors would be quick to point out, there are numerous obstacles preventing Washington from taking a more pro-Turkish turn. Moreover, any Turkish assessment that is not self-critical enough to recognize these factors will likely lead to disappointment.”

By self-critical, Danforth means that they should be aware of how political and public opinion in the United States have been influenced by Turkish actions as well as vice versa.

“Turkish observers are not wrong to detect a certain cynical self-interest in the U.S. foreign policy decisions,” he said.

“By ignoring the limits and the logic of that cynicism, however, they risk misunderstanding how Turkey has fallen afoul of it. U.S. policy can happily look the other way when a friendly strongman imprisons an opposition leader, but when an unfriendly one imprisons U.S. citizens and State Department employees, the pressure to respond mounts.”

As with Turkey, he says, American leaders do not have a totally free hand to ignore public opinion in foreign policy making.

“In short, anyone in Ankara who is expecting the United States to recognise its own interests in regard to Turkey should also recognize the impediments Ankara has created,” he said.

“Absent any evidence of this recognition, everyone would do well to resign themselves to an ongoing impasse – and hope that if the tentative optimism of those still counting on a change in U.S. policy gets dashed, this does not produce a new crisis in itself.”