Courtesy Reuters

Truths About Turkey

TURKEY is under heavy pressure from the Soviet Government, for Turkey controls both the Straits connecting the Black Sea with the Aegean and the mountain-ringed Anatolian plateau, the two direct southern routes of Russian expansion into the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Again, as in the last half of the nineteenth century, the interest of a World Power in limiting Russian expansion coincides with Turkey's interest in survival. Britain is today unable to balance the power of a Russian empire far stronger than in Tsarist times and driven by leaders with far more crusading zeal. But an explicit statement by President Truman has recognized the common interest of the United States and the Turkish Republic, and a program of aid to Turkey has been adopted by the United States Government to give the "Truman Doctrine" practical effect.

Naturally enough, so important a development of United States foreign policy has elicited diverse opinions from diverse western minds. I have no intention here of analyzing the Truman Doctrine (though I believe that the substance of the President's statement and the action taken by Congress were proper and wise), nor of disputing the views of those who see it unfavorably. One aspect of the disparagement of the program of aid to Turkey, however, seems based on a misconception so odd and yet so prevalent as to necessitate special attention. It is the assumption that the Turkey of 1947 is the Turkey of 50 years ago. Thus one hears talk of the "feudal régime" of the Turkish Government, and finds cartoonists using the symbol of the fez to represent the Turkish state. And, of course, one meets with constant reference to the famous "wrong horse" which Britain is supposed to have backed by supporting Turkey instead of Russia in the past century. No less a notable than Professor Harold J. Laski triumphantly produced this cliché several times in the course of a confident demolition of American policy in a recent article.[i]

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