“Avenues to Nowhere”: the Pitfalls of American Economic Support of Turkey, 1948-1960

A process of realignment dominated Turkey’s post-war experience, both in terms of domestic politics and its role in international matters.  In the broadest of terms, during the 1940s and 1950s Turkey shifted away from close relations with Great Britain and a position as a Middle Eastern power to an apprenticeship with the United States.  As a result of growing political and economic closeness with America, Turkey came to redefine and identify itself as a European nation deserving of membership in Western organizations such as NATO and the European Economic Community.  Such a progression would have been impossible without the financial and political support of the United States.  It also contributed to complications in Turkish government, particularly in regards to military interference and interventions. Washington’s concerns for Turkey resulted from its strategic position, primarily as a bulwark along the southeastern border of the Soviet Union.  This precipitated massive funding efforts by the U.S. beginning in the 1940s to streamline and modernize Turkey’s military so that it would become a credible deterrent to Soviet expansionary aims in the Mediterranean.  American financial aid also went into Turkish economic development through improved agricultural production in order to encourage political stability and Turkey gradually shouldering the fiscal burden of maintaining its armed forces.  This approach to development yielded limited success due to the fact that Turkey’s economy became enslaved to the weather.  America’s rejuvenation of Turkey’s army also made it more disposed to intervene in the political realm, culminating in the coup of 1960.

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