American Hellenic Institute

AHI Calendar



Facebook Image
Op-Ed on “The New York Times Appeasement of Turkey”
October 4, 2006—No. 74 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed on “The New York Times Appeasement of Turkey”

Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the September 23, 2006 issue of The National Herald, page 11, the September 25, 2006 issue of Greek News, page 48, the October 3, 2006 issue of the Hellenic News of America, page 3 and it will appear in the October 11, 2006 issue of The Hellenic Voice on page 5.

The New York Times Appeasement of Turkey

By Gene Rossides

The New York Times editorial of September 10, 2006, reprinted in the National Herald in its September 16, 2006 issue, is a prime example of the New York Times appeasement of Turkey for decades to the detriment of U.S. interests and to the detriment of Greece and Cyprus.

The editorial contains misstatements of fact, misleading statements and serious omissions of facts and issues.

The editorial commends the U.S. for appointing retired Air Force General and former NATO Commander Joseph Ralston “to work with Turkish authorities. General Ralston will be responsible for coordinating American antiterrorist efforts with Iraq and Turkey, both of which have sizable Kurdish minorities and minorities within those minorities who have resorted to terror.”

The New York Times editorial fails to state that the Turkish government and military have from 1984 through 1998 resorted to massive state terror against its 15 million Kurdish minority which has been characterized as genocide by many observers including the late respected Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island. During that time the Turkish military killed 35,000 Kurds, 30,000 of whom were innocent civilians and 5,000 were PKK rebels.

During that time the Turkish military burned and destroyed 3,000 Kurdish villages creating three million Kurdish refugees in their own country.

During that time the Turkish paramilitary under the direction of the Turkish military assassinated 17,500 Kurds as stated by Eric Rouleau, former French Ambassador to Turkey in his article “Turkey’s Dream of Democracy” in Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000, pp. 100 to 114 at 112.

Instead the New York Times editorial refers to the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s hailing “the appointment as a ‘new opportunity’ for cooperation between the United States and Turkey”…and says the U.S. “would be wise to create many more and varied opportunities to engage with Turkey, a longtime ally, and a uniquely important one.”

I strongly disagree that Turkey is “a longtime ally and a uniquely important one.” Let’s look at the record for the 20th century and the opening years of the 21st century.

The record clearly shows that in the 20th century Turkey fought against the U.S. in World War I; that in World War II Turkey broke its treaty with Britain and France to enter the war; stated its neutrality; profited from both sides; and actually aided Nazi Germany by providing Hitler with chromium, a vital resource to Nazi Germany’s armaments industry and war effort. (See F. Weber, The Evasive Neutral 44 (1979).

Hitler’s armaments chief, Albert Speer, provided Hitler a memorandum in November 1943 on “Alloys in Armaments Productions and the Importance of Chromium Imports from the Balkans and Turkey,” which stated that the loss of chromium supplies from Turkey would end the war in about 10 months. A. Speer, Inside the Third Reich 316-17, 405, 550 n. 10 (1970).

The allies finally halted chromium exports to Nazi Germany. However the net effect of Turkey supplying Hitler with chromium was that Turkey prolonged WW II in Europe by seven months.

Let’s look at the record since 1947 when the U.S. started ait to Turkey at the beginning of the Cold War. How many readers are aware that since that date, and while being a NATO member since 1952, there are several instances where Turkey actively aided the Soviet military to the detriment of the U.S. and NATO! The facts are well known yet the New York Times editorial board simply ignores them and calls Turkey “a staunch NATO member since 1952.” As long ago as 1974, Edward Luttwak, the noted strategic analyst, discussed Turkey’s cooperation with the Soviet military during the Cold War. He wrote the following:

“No longer presenting a direct threat to the integrity of Turkish national territory, and no longer demanding formal revision of the Straits navigation regime, the Soviet Union has nevertheless successfully exercised armed suasion over Turkey, even while maintaining a fairly benevolent stance, which includes significant aid flows. Faced with a sharp relative increase in Russian strategic and naval power, and eager to normalize relations with their formidable neighbor, the Turks have chosen to conciliate the Russians, and have been able to do so at little or no direct cost to themselves. It is only in respect to strategic transit that Turkey is of primary importance to the Soviet Union, and this is the area where the concessions have been made. Examples of such deflection, where the Russians are conciliated at the expense of western rather than specifically Turkish interests, include the overland traffic agreement (unimpeded Russian transit to Iraq and Syria by road), the generous Turkish interpretation of the Montreux Convention, which regulates ship movements in the Straits, and above all, the overflight permissions accorded to Russian civilian and military aircraft across Turkish air space. The alliance relationship in NATO and with the United States no doubt retains a measure of validity in Turkish eyes, but it is apparent that its supportive effect is not enough to counteract Russian suasion, especially since the coercion is latent and packaged in a benevolent, diplomatic stance.” (Luttwak, The Political Uses of Sea Power,Johns Hopkins Press, 1974, pp. 60-61.)

Examples of Turkey’s disloyalty and unreliability over the past decades as a NATO ally for U.S. strategic purposes include:

  1. During the 1973 Mid-East War, predating the Turkish invasion of Cyprus by one year, Turkey refused the United States military overflight rights to resupply Israel and granted the U.S.S.R. overland military convoy rights to resupply Syria and Iraq, and military overflight permission to resupply Egypt. (See Karaosmanoglu, “Turkey’s Security and the Middle East,” 52 Foreign Affairs 157, 163, Fall 1983.)
  2. In the 1977-78 conflict in Ethiopia, Turkey granted the Soviets military overflight rights to support the pro-Soviet minority of Ethiopian communist insurgents, led by Colonel Mengistu, who eventually prevailed and established a Marxist dictatorship directly dependent upon the Soviet Union. (C. Meyer, Facing Reality From World Federalism to the CIA 276-80, 1980.)
  3. Over NATO objections, Turkey allowed three Soviet aircraft carriers, the Kiev on July 18, 1976, the Minsk on February 25, 1979 and theNovorosiisk on May 16, 1983, passage rights through the Bosphorous and Dardanelles Straits into the Mediterranean in violation of the Montreux Convention of 1936. The Soviet ships posed a formidable threat to the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
  4. In 1979 Turkey refused to allow the U.S. to send 69 U.S. marines and six helicopters to American military facilities at Incirlik in Turkey for possible use in evacuating Americans from Iran and protecting the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
  5. Again in 1979 Turkey refused the U.S. request to allow U-2 intelligence flights (for Salt II verification) over Turkish airspace “unless Moscow agreed.” (N.Y. Times, May 15, 1979, at A1, col. 3.) This position was voiced over a period of months by Turkish officials, the opposition party and the military Chief of Staff, General Kenan Evren, (See, Washington Post and New York Times, April—September 1979).
  6. In January of 1981, President Carter tried to obtain a commitment from Turkey for the use of Turkish territory for operations in cases of conflict in the Middle East. The January 20, 1981, New York Times reported that Turkey was not in favor of “the United States using Turkish bases for conflicts not affecting Turkey.” In the spring, 1983, issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Harry Shaw pointed out that Turkey is unlikely to become involved in, or allow U.S. forces to use Turkish territory in a Middle East war that does not threaten her territory directly.
  7. As an example of the above, in 1980, Turkey refused to permit the U.S. to use the NATO base at Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey as a transit point for the purpose of conducting a rescue mission into Tehran, Iran, to free the American hostages held in that city. The distance from Diyarbakir to Tehran is 450 miles as opposed to the actual route taken, which was over 900 miles.
  8. In May, 1989, Turkey rejected an American request to inspect an advanced MIG-29 Soviet fighter plane, flown by a Soviet defector to Turkey. (New York Times, May 28, 1989, at A12, col.1.)
  9. The Turkish government refused repeated American requests for the installation of antennas in Turkey concerning eleven transmitters whose broadcasts would have been directed primarily at the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites. (Newsweek, July 22, 1983)
  10. Turkey further damaged NATO by vetoing NATO’s effort to put military bases on various Greek islands in the Aegean for defensive purposes against the Soviet navy.

Most readers are aware of the latest failure of Turkey as an “ally” to assist the U.S., namely, the Turkish Parliament’s refusal on March 1, 2003 to allow U.S. troops to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship when it counted most.

The reason for the refusal was Turkey’s efforts to get more money. Prime Minister Erdogan stated that he wanted $6 billion more for Turkey’s cooperation over the $26 billion irresponsibly offered by the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz! A U.S. negotiator called it “extortion in the name of alliance.”

The Times states erroneously that Turkey is a “secular democracy situated between Europe and the Middle East.” Freedom House points out that Turkey is a “partial democracy” because, among other things, the military is not under civilian control and there is a lack of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Further Turkey is 95 percent in the Middle East and 5 percent is Europe.

The public opinion surveys in Turkey referred to by the Times editorial can and should be cited to demonstrate that Turkey, a 99 percent Muslim nation, cannot be relied upon by the U.S., NATO and the West.

The Times editorial’s serious omissions of issues and facts are three-fold: Cyprus, the Aegean and Armenia. How could an editorial on Turkey not include a discussion of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and its occupation of 37.3 percent of northern Cyprus since 1974 with 35,000 illegal occupation troops, and 120,000 illegal colonists/settlers in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Turkish barbed wire fence across the face of Cyprus?

How could it not refer to the report of the UN Commission of Human Rights condemning Turkey for the killings and rapes of innocent civilians and looting by its army in 1974 and thereafter?

How could it not refer to the Turkish Air Forces illegal flights in the Aegean in violation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules?

How could such an editorial not discuss the illegal economic blockade of Armenia which prevents U.S. humanitarian supplies to Armenia?

Frankly, the editorial should have asked:

What is the U.S. State Department doing to advance full human and political rights for Turkey’s Kurds?

When is the State Department going to apply the Bush doctrine of democracy to Turkey?

What is the State Department doing to remove the Turkish occupation troops and settlers from Cyprus and getting rid of the Turkish barbed wire fence?

What is the State Department doing to halt the illegal Turkish Air Force flights in the Aegean in violation of ICAO rules? General Ralston should have been appointed to halt Turkey’s illegal Air Force flights in the Aegean.

What is the State Department doing to lift Turkey’s economic blockade of Armenia?

I urge my readers to write and call the New York Times to protest its appeasement of Turkey. Your letters and calls can definitely help.


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