Letter to President Obama on Recent Developments in Turkey

The Honorable Barack Obama 
President of the United States of America 
The White House 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20500

February 20, 2014 

Dear Mr. President: 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly undermining a central pillar of the decades-long, strategic U.S.-Turkish partnership: Turkey’s growing democracy. We are writing because of our deep dismay at this development and to urge you to make clear to the Turkish public America’s concern about Turkey’s current path. Silence will only encourage Prime Minister Erdoğan to diminish the rule of law in the country even further.
Turkey is a long-time ally of the United States and one of only two democratic, stable  partners we have in the Middle East. But it might not remain either for long. The response of Prime Minister Erdoğan to potential challenges to hisrule— 
first large public protests beginning in May 2013, more recently allegations of massive corruption that reach the highest levels of his government threaten to take Turkey from an imperfect democracy to an autocracy. He and many in his party have abused their positions and compromised the rule of law by shutting down the investigations, dismissing or reassigning hundreds of  prosecutors and thousands of police officers, muzzling the media, demonizingcritics, and incriminating imagined foreign conspirators, including the U.S. ambassador. Worse, the ruling AKP has pushed through institutional changes such as bringing the judiciary under executive control and expanding state authority to censor the internet that would eliminate the hallmarks of democracy: separation of powers, checks and balances, and civil liberties. 

These developments have already roiled Turkey’s economy, polarized its society, and endangered its political stability. Some might argue that because the United States has many interests with Turkey not least of which is ending the violence in Syria and easing the suffering of its people it should not risk alienating its ally. Should Turkey succumb to the authoritarian impulses currently on display, however, it would have profound implications for our ability to work together and, therefore, for our deepest interests. 

We fear that Prime Minister Erdoğan and the Turkish public have taken American silence to mean that the Prime Minister retains U.S. support and can proceed as he wishes. In the meanwhile, the damage to Turkey’s democracy keeps worsening. We believe it is important now to make it clear, privately and publicly, that Prime Minister Erdoğan’s autocratic actions and demagoguery are subverting Turkey’s political institutions and values and endangering the U.S.-Turkey relationship. 


Ambassador Morton I. Abramowitz 
Peter R. Huessy 
Elliott Abrams 
Dr. William C. Inboden 
Dr. Kenneth Adelman 
Bruce Pitcairn Jackson 
Dr. David Adesnik 
Dr. Kenneth D. M. Jensen 
Ilan Berman 
ADM Gregory Johnson, USN (Ret.) 
Ambassador David Birenbaum 
Ambassador Robert G. Joseph 
Ambassador John R. Bolton 
Brian Katulis 
Max Boot 
James Kirchick 
Ellen Bork 
Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld 
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer 
Representative James Thomas Kolbe 
Dr. Eliot A. Cohen 
David Kramer 
Senator Norm Coleman 
Irina Krasovskaya 
Susan Corke 
Dr. William Kristol 
Dr. Svante Cornell 
Dr. Robert J. Lieber 
Ambassador William Courtney 
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman 
Jack David 
Scott Lilly 
James S. Denton 
Dr. Aaron Lobel 
Tom Dine 
Mary Beth Long 
Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky 
Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken 
Mark Dubowitz 
Dr. Michael Makovsky 
Dr. Colin Dueck 
Ann Marlowe 
Charles Dunne 
Clifford D. May 
Dr. Nicholas N. Eberstadt 
Stephen McInerney 
Ambassador Eric S. Edelman 
David A. Merkel 
Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin 
Dr. Joshua Muravchik 
Reuel Marc Gerecht 
Dr. Dana Villiers Negroponte 
Carl Gershman 
Governor Tim Pawlenty 
Abe Greenwald 
Dr. Martin Peretz 
Christopher J. Griffin 
Danielle Pletka 
Lawrence J. Haas 
John Podhoretz 
John P. Hannah 
Arch Puddington 
Pete Hegseth 
Senator Charles S. Robb 
John D. Holum 
Dr. Carla Anne Robbins 
Brian Hook 
Ambassador Dennis Ross
Dr. Michael Rubin 
GEN Charles F. Wald, USAF (Ret.) 
Dr. Kori Schake 
Peter Wehner 
Dr. Jonathan Schanzer 
Dr. Kenneth R. Weinstein 
Randy Scheunemann 
Dr. Michael Werz 
Dan Senor 
Leon Wieseltier 
Scott Siff 
Dr. Dov S. Zakheim 
Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter 
Mortimer Zuckerman
Julianne Smith

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