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Op-Ed on “Secretary Rice and Turkey: Tactical and Strategic Errors”
April 18, 2006—No. 30 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed on “Secretary Rice and Turkey: Tactical and Strategic Errors”

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed by AHI President Gene Rossides appeared in the April 8, 2006 issue of The National Herald, page 15 and the April 12, 2006 issue of The Hellenic Voice, page 5.

Secretary Rice and Turkey—Tactical and Strategic Errors

By Gene Rossides

Secretary Condoleezza Rice visited British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s hometown of Blackburn, in England’s industrial northwest on March 31, 2006 in return for Straw’s visit in October 2005 to Birmingham, Alabama, Rice’s hometown.

Following her remarks in Blackburn and in response to a question:

“Ms. Rice acknowledged that the Bush administration had made ‘tactical errors, a thousand of them, I am sure’ in Iraq and perhaps elsewhere. She was speaking figuratively, her spokesman said later.

Ms. Rice asserted that whatever tactical failures there may have been, the strategic decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power had been right. ‘Saddam Hussein was not going anywhere without a military intervention, she said.’” (New York Times, 3-31-06; A7; col.1.)

She also said that history would be the final judge; that there would be many PhD dissertations on the Bush administration’s strategic and tactical decisions regarding Iraq; that when she returns to Stanford she would probably be reviewing some of those dissertations.

I submit that Ms. Rice, first as National Security Advisor to President Bush from January 20, 2001 and then as Secretary of State from January 26, 2005 to the present time, has made not only tactical errors regarding U.S. relations with Turkey but also fundamental strategic errors regarding Turkey to the detriment of U.S. interests.

U.S.-Turkey policy obviously predates the present Bush administration and goes back to the Truman Doctrine of 1947. However, U.S.-Turkey relations for the Bush administration started on January 20, 2001. The normal situation for a new administration, particularly one that ousted the other political party from the White House, is to review each program in domestic and foreign affairs to determine what changes, if any, to make.

Bush’s defeat of Gore in November 2000 would have, as a matter of course, resulted in a review of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy regarding U.S. relations with Turkey. This was done and, unfortunately, no substantive changes were made.

Indeed, neoconservatives, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and then chairman of the Defense Advisory Board Richard Perle, all spoke of Turkey’s alleged importance to the U.S. with glowing comments about its strategic importance, its reliability as an ally and its value as a bridge between the West and the East with the approval of National Security Advisor Rice and then Secretary of State Colin Powell. Their comments and speeches were overblown and Wolfowitz’s included blatant falsehoods and misleading statements regarding Turkey which the American Hellenic Institute documented in a letter to President Bush on September 4, 2002.

The Bush administration’s continuation of Clinton’s overall policy towards Turkey was a “strategic error” and its other actions towards Turkey since January 20, 2001 encompass “strategic” and “tactical errors,” all to the serious detriment of U.S. interests.

The Clinton policy which Bush adopted was that Turkey was of significant strategic importance to the U.S., that Turkey was a reliable ally and that Turkey, a 99 percent Muslim state, was a bridge between the East and the West. All three propositions are strategic errors and should have been challenged by the Bush administration.

Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The U.S. and its allies working through the UN and with UN authorization removed Iraqi military forces from Kuwait by military force. The Persian Gulf War started on January 16, 1991 and ended on February 27, 1991. Turkey was basically not involved. It proved that Turkey was of minimal strategic value to the U.S. in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

The second war against Iraq in 2003, in which Turkey refused to allow the use of a base in Turkey for U.S. troops to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, demonstrated Turkey’s unreliability as an ally when it counted most. It also demonstrated Turkey’s minimal value as a strategic ally in the region because the U.S. defeated Saddam Hussein without Turkey’s help.

But Turkey’s unreliability as an ally is not new! During the Cold War, Turkey actively aided the Soviet military on several occasions to the serious detriment of U.S. interests.

Further, the Iraq war of 2003 exposed Turkey as an “extortionist” state when Prime Minister Erdogan tried to get $6 billion more over the $26 billion shockingly offered to let the U.S. use bases in Turkey. A senior U.S. official called Turkey’s negotiating tactics as “extortion in the name of alliance.” (Lead article New York Times, Feb. 20, 2003; A1; col.6)

The idea that Turkey, a 99 percent Muslim country can be a bridge between the West and East is nonsense and borders on the ridiculous. The U.S. and the West do not need Turkey as an intermediary with other Muslim nations in the Middle East or other parts of Asia. And Turkey, the former harsh colonial master of the Arabs and oppressor of its 20 percent Kurdish minority and human rights violator, is hardly welcome by Arab nations as an intermediary or as a model for the Arabs.

In 1990 at the end of the Cold War, Turkey, in order to justify U.S. military and economic aid, floated the idea that she was even more important to the U.S. because Turkey could be a bridge to the countries of Central Asia. That idea was a complete failure but it got Turkey U.S. military and economic aid for several more years.

U.S. policy towards Turkey also involves the overriding issue of Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus in July and August 1974 when it grabbed over a third of northern Cyprus.

The European Commission on Human Rights issued a report on July 10, 1976 on the charges made in two applications by the Cyprus government. On January 23, 1977 the London Sunday Times published excerpts of the report (page 1, col. 1) and stated:

“It amounts to a massive indictment of the Ankara government for the murder, rape and looting by its army in Cyprus during and after the Turkish invasion of summer 1974.”

Clinton did not press Turkey to remove its illegal armed forces from Cyprus. Instead he allowed Turkey to use that issue in negotiations for a settlement which in effect supported Turkey’s aggression.

There is no legal distinction between Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait on August 2, 1990 and Turkey’s invasion and occupation of over a third of Cyprus by Turkey in July-August 1974.

The Bush administration’s decision to continue the Clinton policy towards Turkey regarding Cyprus, instead of calling for the immediate withdrawal of Turkey’s 40,000 armed forces and its 120,000 illegal settler/colonists, was a strategic and tactical error.

Additional tactical errors by the U.S. regarding Turkey include supporting the following Turkish positions in the UN Annan Plan: the undemocratic provisions giving the 18 percent Turkish Cypriot minority veto rights over all major legislative and executive actions, forcing the Greek Cypriots to pay for their losses caused by the Turkish army, absolving Turkey of responsibility for its invasion, preventing the 170,000 Greek Cypriots refugees forcibly cleansed from the north from returning to their homes and properties, and preventing proper resort to the courts by Greek Cypriots.

The tactical error by the Bush administration in failing to support normal democratic provisions in the Annan Plan is most damaging to Bush’s democracy initiative in the Middle East and worldwide.

Several articles in 2005 and 2006 by leading journalists have documented Turkey’s virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic views and attitudes.

Call and write to Secretary Rice and urge her to critically review U.S.-Turkey relations and correct the strategic and tactical errors made and to change U.S. policy of a double standard on the rule of law for Turkey and appeasement of Turkey. Tell her that Turkey is an unreliable ally, that Turkey is of minimal strategic value to the U.S., that Turkey is a virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic state, that Turkey is not a bridge for the U.S. to Muslim countries and that Turkey should remove its armed forces and colonists/settlers from Cyprus now. Contact Secretary Rice as follows and also President Bush:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
The State Department 
2201 C Street, NW 
Washington, DC 20520 
Phone: 202-647-4000 (Main Switchboard) 
Fax: 202-647-2283

President George W. Bush
The White House 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20500 
Tel. 202-456-1111 (Comments)
202-456-1414 (Main Switchboard) 
Fax: 202-456-2461 


For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at