Briefing Book Paper
United States Policy Toward Turkey
Since the time of Admiral Bristol, relations between the United States and Turkey have been friendly and profitable. We have no special objectives with regard to Turkey itself beyond those normal to peaceful intercourse. Our attitude so far as Turkish-American relations are concerned is “live and let live” within the following basic policy principles (see Policy Committee Paper No. 8, dated October 23, 19441).
- The right of peoples to choose for themselves without outside interference the type of political, social, and economic systems they desire.
- Equality of opportunity, as against the setting up of a policy of exclusion, in commerce, transit and trade; and freedom to negotiate, either through government agencies or private enterprise, irrespective of the type of economic system in operation.
- The right of access to all countries on an equal and unrestricted basis of bona fide representatives of the recognized press and information agencies of other nations engaged in disseminating information to the public in their own countries; and the right to transmit information gathered by them to points outside such territories without hindrance or discrimination.
- Freedom, on a non-discriminatory basis, for American philanthropic [Page 1016] and educational organizations to carry on their activities in the respective countries.
- General protection of American citizens and the protection and furtherance of legitimate American economic rights, existing or potential (investments, concessions, licenses, etc.)
- Willingness to participate through recommendations in territorial settlements of questions involving general security.
The geographical position of Turkey is such that historically both Great Britain and the USSR have watched jealously the course of Turkey’s relations with the other powers. Potentially Turkey is an area of diplomatic, economic and military conflict between the USSR and Great Britain. It seems probable that in the main British policy will be to strengthen and to encourage Turkey in order that Turkey may resist more successfully Soviet moves to draw Turkey into the Soviet orbit.
… If the Turks are convinced that they enjoy unconditional British backing in dealing with the Soviet Union, they might assume an attitude toward the Soviet Union which the latter might interpret as provocative. It is thus of importance that this Government, always ready to assist in the just and peaceful solution of problems involving peace, should retain a detached but watchful attitude in viewing the interplay of British and Soviet policies on the Turkish stage so long as neither party resorts to practices not in keeping with the principles of the I. S. O. This Government, as a friend to all concerned and pledged sincerely to the cause of peace, can thus make its weight felt at any crucial period.
Turkey’s foreign policy has been swinging in a slow arc from East to West. From 1921 to 1936 when both the Turkish Republic and the Soviet Union were new, uncertain and almost friendless, they had many problems in common, and Turkey diplomatically leaned towards the USSR. From 1936 to 1939 Turkey was encouraged by its success at Montreux to take a more or less independent stand vis-à-vis the larger powers. In 1939 Turkey became frightened by the phenomenon of German-Soviet cordiality and turned her policy definitely westward by signing Alliances with England and France.2 Although theoretically the German attack on the USSR put Turkey on the same side of the fence as Russia, actually, as success came to Soviet arms and Turkey maintained her pro-Allied armed neutrality, Moscow assumed a cold and detached attitude toward the Turks, thus causing the Turks to lean even more heavily upon Great Britain for support.
There are already clear indications that the Soviet Union has in mind a number of serious issues involving Turkey and the Turks, as much as any other people, hope fervently that their independence [Page 1017] and integrity will be preserved by the principles of the I. S. O. The Turks believe that they will be safe if the anti-aggression doctrines enshrined in the I. S. O. are honored and implemented by the members of the Security Council.
If the I. S. O. should fail (and the Turks are inclined to be pessimistic), they anticipate a difficult period of pressure politics from both East and West. In this event it would seem preferable from the point of view of this Government’s interest in world peace for Turkey either to have special alliances in both directions or no alliances at all.
This Government should make it abundantly clear at the meeting of the Heads of Government that it can not and will not remain silent if any country takes steps which threaten the independence and integrity of Turkey in violation of the principles of the I. S. O. Furthermore, at an appropriate time this Government should make the foregoing stand clear to Turkey and to any other interested powers.
- Not printed.↩
- i. e., the Franco-Turkish declaration of mutual assistance issued at Paris, June 23, 1939 (text in British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxliii, p. 476), and the mutual assistance treaty signed by the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey at Ankara, October 19, 1939 (text printed ibid., vol. cli, p. 213).↩