Masters Thesis

(dis)Trust between Turkey and the United States

Not every agreement guarantees that the terms of the agreement will be strictly followed. Similarly, not every alliance relationship can guarantee that expectations will be met. As the alliance literature has focused on the beginning and outcomes of the alliances, it ignores the alliance quality that concerns the inter-state alliance process. This study considers the notion of 'trust' as the basic element in the quality of the alliance. Trust is an abstract notion, but its measurement is not impossible; the study managed to measure it over the unilateral decisions in the alliance, and the Democratic and Republican Party Presidents' attitudes and decisions (in a sense, partisanship). It also presents findings regarding the effect of different national security interests and democracy levels of the countries on the trust issue in the alliances. For this examination, the Turkish American alliance was chosen as the case study; many problems based on trust in the Turkish-American alliance are up-to-date, and it covers the years between 2003 and 2013. In this regard, the study provides progressive findings; accordingly, unilateral decisions undermine the trust in the alliance. In addition, these crises in the alliance are less likely to be observed with the Democratic Party Presidents compared to the Republican Party Presidents; the discussion of the past problems in the Turkish-American alliance in this study made this generalization possible. While the findings show that different national security interests negatively affect the trust, no correlation was found between the conflicts (crises) of alliance and the changing level of democracy. The study also explored how the Turkish public responded to the crises and the positive developments in the alliance. For this objective, the Turkish public's approval rates to George W. Bush and Barack Obama were applied. This exploration also reveals the measurement of the Turkish public's international trust in the United States. Findings show that the public places great emphasis on the discourses of the presidents, and the discourses constituted their first impression. The Turkish public opinion regarding the U.S. is reactive and unstable; however, the varying approval ratios of the public and the timings of the crises and developments do not match. In other words, the public opinion about a leader of state can change without any 'apparent' development.

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