Turkey Should Leave NATO Now! – OpEd


By Ihsan Bal

NATO is an organization which was established in 1949 for the defense of the Western Bloc and cooperation within it in the aftermath of the Second World War. Among its founders are the UK, France and the United States at the outset. The time Turkey joined NATO was when Soviet threat was intensified and Stalin’s Russia was demanding territory from us. Since Turkey preferred to side with the Western Bloc and NATO, the political leadership of the time, which can be identified also as conservative, sent troops to the Korean War for this cause.


Despite all that enthusiasm we set out for it, and martyrs we sacrificed in Korea for the sake of demonstrating unity, NATO has been “a pain in the neck” from that day to this. It seems like an undesired child given birth as a result of a great love story. Even dozens of books were written in favor of it. When you talk with experts a great majority of them support Turkey’s being part of NATO alliance, despite all that hue and cry.* However, NATO was targeted by a wide and diverse social base; including nationalists, neo-nationalists, Islamists and socialists.

What an incorrigible suspicion that is for continuously preying on our minds, but somehow we still don’t give up living and breathing it. We experienced plenty of similar occasions in the past, all for coming a full circle to current debates on Patriot missiles.

Missile crisis

The present crisis is a typical indicator of involuntary partnership. Our extremities are surrounded with a circle of fire. There is an on-going civil war in Syria, another one is about to start in Iraq, Iran is pressing forward to become a nuclear power; no need to mention Israeli arsenal. It is also well-known that Russia is providing with weaponry to Syria through various channels. Hence, our Middle Eastern neighborhood is far from settling down soon.

Turkey tried to put in place its indigenous remedies quickly as a response to all these threats. It is obvious that our local resources are insufficient in this manner. Therefore both the establishment of a Radar Base at Kürecik and the deployment of Patriot missiles near Syrian border were decided in accordance with joint elaboration on the part of the Foreign Ministry, Armed Forces and Ministry of Defense. This means we are demanding, from an organization we have become part of in order to be “defended”, in line with our needs.

So what is the discussion about? There are many people voicing concerns such as “But… Iran is very uncomfortable with this… Syria more… Russia is furious as well…”

As is known, analyses of risks and threats concerning a country’s security and defense are conducted in compliance with its interests and again discussed in such a manner. Calculations regarding others’ regret, rage or pleasure do not constitute the core criteria in determining Turkey’s estimations and analyses of external threat.

In the first place, it cannot be said that the majority of popular analyses are done in the appropriate manner. We are kept busy with concerns as regards to the question of “why others are uncomfortable or happy about something”. If this country’s overall military strategy, foreign defense doctrine, and the current views as well as estimations of Turkish ministries specialized on foreign affairs and defense converge on the necessity of deploying NATO’s Patriot missiles in Turkey in addition to that these missiles are demanded for the sake of national interests; what is to be set forth as a primary principle of our discussion is this clear fact.

Why are Patriots asked for?

Nearly all official statements point that the demand was aimed for defense. As for the question of from whom or where the offensive would be carried on, it is a matter of intelligence. Nonetheless, reinforced intelligence assessments are influent considerably on the process of exhibiting the intensity and sharpness of risks and threats from the point of states.

If comparative potential national security risks cannot be avoided with the resources on hand, the option of demanding additional utilities from a security roof over you stands forth as a matter of course. But if you consider your alliance as not a foul-weather friend but a “treacherous network”, the only thing you need to do is to leave that alliance right away. If we consider “Super NATO conspiracies” as reliable data, there is no other way around. Then we need not to content ourselves with opposing Patriots’ deployment alone, but we should surely burn down 80 per cent of the military equipment we have in total, in particular our fighter jets we acquired within the frame of NATO standards.

For good or ill, such a paranoid distrust or obsessive anxiety of being deceived or trapped has to bring us to a compulsive, shimmery cleanup of our military equipment as well as our minds. If we are ready for all these, let’s face the reality; otherwise we would sound like confusing people with “irrational”, “crazy talk”.

Ihsan Bal
Head of USAK Science Committee

*’Turkish Foreign Policy with Interviews’, published by USAK, is an important resource on this subject. This piece was originally published in Habertürk Newspaper on 3 December 2012.


JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

One thought on “Turkey Should Leave NATO Now! – OpEd

  • December 25, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Yeah the Russians are gathering in the Southern Military District. The 58th army that won the 080808 war is being armed with their best military technology that can be produced at the moment. The infantry is practicing that distinct flavour of Soviet operational art of maneuver warfare with a focus on rapid tactical advance deep into the enemy territory saturated with tactical nuclear strikes and use of CW warfare. The recent nominations to Stavka or General Staff are officers and generals with combat experience commanding various detachments of the Second Chechen War. There are ru ours in Moscow the new defense minister may be a “war time” minister.

    Something big is about to happen in the South Caucuses and beyond


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