Daniel Pipes

"Far from being the source of anti-Americanism in Turkey, the AKP represents an ideal partner for the United States in the region." So asserts Joshua W. Walker, a former Turkey desk officer at the State Department now studying at Princ­eton University, referring to the Justice and Development Party (known as the AKP). Writing in The Washington Quarterly, Walker supports his thesis by noting the constructive Turkish role in Iraq, praising "how carefully the AKP has guarded the [U.S.] alliance and tried to work with the Bush administration, particularly when compared to other European nations."

Not just that; he welcomes the weakening of Turkey's secular establishment, which he disdains as having "succeeded for decades in defining secularism in such a narrow way as to safeguard the outmoded and repressive antidemocratic features of the Turkish state."

This analysis, in "Reexamining the U.S.-Turkish Alliance," throws down the gauntlet for someone like myself, who appreciates the secularists' long run and suspects the AKP of being an Islamist organization that seeks to impose Islamic law (the Shari‘a) and perhaps overthrow the secular Atatürkist order to create an Islamic Republic of Turkey.

New realities require a painful reassessment and giving up the warm sentiments built up over a nearly 60-year alliance. Bold steps are needed to bring the country back into the Western fold while blunting the damage an Islamist-led Turkey can do to Western interests. Although all Western governments currently share Walker's easy accommodation and even enthusiasm for an increasingly hostile Turkey, their soothing words and glib assessments must not be allowed to conceal the dangerous developments now under way.

Walker helpfully provides evidence of those new realities. To begin with, anti-Americanism has prospered exuberantly in the five years of AKP rule, to the point that Turks regularly poll as the population most hostile to America in the world. In 2000, polls show, 52 percent of them looking favorably on the United States; just 9 percent do so in 2007. The government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdullah Gül indisputably helped foster what Walker calls a "long-term slide into an anti-Americanism that cannot simply be erased with a new U.S. president in Janu­ary 2009."

Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.