Is Turkey as relevant to NATO as it was during the cold war?


1 Answer 1


Just doing one of the questions: "Is Turkey as relevant to Nato as it was during the cold war"

!Total rewrite following Denis de Bernardy's comment!

Necessary context for the comparison you want: Nato was originally formed as opposed to the Soviet Union, which has fallen, so Nato itself is not as relevant as it was in the cold war. Nato is now hanging on to its existence and currently has Russia as #1 threat (until China gets up the speed) and a general interest in stability. Russia is not the big deal that the USSR was.

Turkey's relevance to Nato Now is not primarily its ability to affect the outcome of the war in Syria . Or the fact that it houses 3 million refugees that it could "dump in Hamburg at will, or that it is intervening in Syria by attacking the Kurds.

I consider Turkey's ambition in Syria (and Iraq) to be limited to disabling the Kurds who have in the past sponsored terrorism in Turkey as part of their ambition to create a Kurdish state. Although Turkey is mostly Sunni they are not hyper-religious, so I cannot see an ideological confrontation with Iran. This is Nato-neutral.

Turkey's relationship with Russia is a Nato concern, as indicated by the linked The American Conservative article (BTW, TAC is mostly excellent imo). Turkey's purchase of sophisticated Russian missiles is interesting. Why would they need these? Do they have Hegemonic ambitions in the Levant? Do they have a Bomb project? There has been talk, and if true, NATO needs to know.

Turkey's fundamental value to Nato is that Turkey controls the Bosphorus, the link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. You must look at this map, and then reduce the scale to see the significance.


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    The reason Turkey was invited to join NATO had everything to do with controlling the Bosphorus. This has not changed. Its relevance today has nothing to do with Syria. Apr 18, 2018 at 16:51
  • @Denis, thanks. Obvious really. I do this to learn and I've learned.. I'd be grateful if you could find the time to expand on this.
    – Aethelbald
    Apr 18, 2018 at 18:16
  • In a nutshell it had to do at the time with preventing the USSR's Black Sea fleet from being able to access the Mediterranean in the event of conflict. And it still does, basically. Per the wiki article on US/Russia foreign relations, the two countries don't get along that well. The Bosphorus is every bit as strategic in a war as places like the Gibraltar straight or the Suez and Panama canals. (Consider that, however spectacular other operations, both world wars - and the French Revolution before it - were won by the powers that controlled the seas.) Apr 18, 2018 at 18:32

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