It’s hard to imagine that Americans will be forbidden for years to visit Topkapi Palace, or that the Grand Canyon will remain off limits to Turks. Indeed, limited visa processing resumed Monday. But, even if the visa standoff is fully resolved the breach it symbolizes will not quickly heal. Turkey has been member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — making it a military ally of the United States — for 65 years. Officially it still is. The reality is different. Turkey has written itself out of the Western alliance. Rather than accept decisions made in Washington and at NATO headquarters in Brussels, it now behaves like a Middle Eastern country pursuing its own interests. Turkey has become the first NATO dropout.
It may not be the last.
The causes of this crackup are a witch’s brew, with ingredients including Russian weaponry, Kurdish guerrilla fighters, a sanctions-busting gold dealer, two preachers, and a goon squad of presidential bodyguards. The brew is flavored by deep suspicions of the United States that permeate much of Turkish society. A recent survey found that just 13 percent of Turks admire American ideals, while 72 percent fear the effects of American power. This antipathy suggests that Westerners have long misjudged the Turks.