Common Values and Common Interests? The Bush Legacy in U.S.-Turkish Relations

Mark R. Parris
Mark R. Parris Former Brookings Expert

October 24, 2008


American and Turkish leaders typically describe ties between the U.S. and Turkey as based on “common values and interests.” Yet given that the Bush administration’s relationship with Turkey has been marked by dysfunction and crisis, is that still true? A tendency to see Turkey as a function of Washington’s big idea of the moment, insensitivity to a broadening perception in Turkey of U.S. disregard for Turkish interests, inaction in the face of PKK terror, weak leadership on energy security, and schizophrenia toward Turkey’s internal politics have left U.S.–Turkish relations worse than when George W. Bush came to office. If U.S. and Turkish interests remain largely convergent at the strategic level, a more independent Turkish diplomacy will likely be part of the Bush legacy. As for “common values,” there is reason to hope that the real damage done to mutual perceptions is reversible.