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Precious No More? A U.S. Strategy for a Lonely Turkey

Turkey’s President Erdoğan appears to have had enough of the international isolation begotten by his aggressive foreign policy. Yet, his pursuit of a reset with the United States is ultimately insincere. Though there are real and significant benefits Washington could derive from a renewed, cooperative partnership with Ankara, there are also major strategic costs to Erdoğan’s continued aggressive pursuit of Turkish unilateralism.

The Biden administration would be well-served to test the possibility of securing the former while protecting against the latter. This requires a strategy that is bureaucratic, transactional, and simultaneously coordinated with trans-Atlantic and Eastern Mediterranean partners, one that: right-sizes the relationship with Turkey; assembles a coalition to address joint concerns about Turkey; offers Erdoğan a clear choice of cooperation or consequences; stands up for democracy; seeks a solution in Syria; and plans for the potential deterioration of relations.

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Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project Co-Chairs

Amb. Eric Edelman
Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Gen Charles “Chuck” Wald, USAF (ret.)
Former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command

Eastern Mediterranean Policy Project Members

Gen Philip M. Breedlove, USAF (ret.)
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and former Commander of U.S. European Command

Gen Kevin P. Chilton, USAF (ret.)
Former Commander, U.S. Strategic Command

Svante E. Cornell
Policy Advisor, JINSA Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy

ADM Kirkland H. Donald, USN (ret.)
Former Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

VADM Mark Fox, USN (ret.)
Former Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command

ADM Bill Gortney, USN (ret.)
Former Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)

John Hannah
Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President; JINSA Gemunder Center Senior Advisor

Reuben Jeffery
Former Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs

Alan Makovsky
Former Senior Professional Staff Member at U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee

GEN David Rodriguez, USA (ret.)
Former Commander, U.S. Africa Command

Lt Gen Thomas “Tom” Trask, USAF (ret.)
Former Vice Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command

This report is made possible by the generous support of the Gettler Family Foundation. A portion of the research for this report was conducted on JINSA’s 2019 Benjamin Gettler International Policy Trip to Greece.