Now, however, world politics is almost in a post-alliances period. Alliances among states are losing their traditional capacity to generate essentials.
This is, therefore, the age of contradictions in world politics. It is now very difficult to understand who is with whom in foreign policy.
The Turkish-US strategic alliance is a brilliant example of the age of contradictions in world politics. There are very few, if any, essentials of this strategic alliance that both sides display carefully. Instead, despite the persistent strategic-alliance narrative, both sides have different agendas on many important issues of global politics.
Turkey, for example, believes that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, embodies a vital risk to the country's interests in the region. However, the US has a different perspective. Many key actors in Washington seem unconvinced by the Turkish argument. Moreover, there are very many influential people in Washington who believe that strong relations with Maliki will help the US in the region, especially vis-à-vis Iran. On Syria, even though Turkey and the US act in line, their level of political involvement are totally different. Unlike Turkey, the US has a somehow low-profile stance on Syria. In Egypt, it is mainly thanks to the US that the Supreme Command of Armed Forces of Egypt (SCAF) is still on the political scene with absolute authority, so much so that it can hijack the revolution. It is no secret that a SCAF-dominated Egyptian politics will be a difficult place for Turkey.
The more ironic situation arises with regard to China. While Turkey and the US are at odds with China on all major issues of world politics, their key priority is to advance good relations with China. Ironically, one may argue that having good relations with China is a new essential of Turkish-US relations.
Last year Turkey and a China conducted a common military exercise, despite the official US warning to Ankara. Similar facts can be observed in Turkey's relations with Russia. The present time should be called the golden age of Turco-Russian relations. These Cold War enemies are now visa-free states. In view of Turkish citizens' visa difficulties with the major Western states (in theory Turkey's historical allies), the Russian rapprochement with Turkey is meaningful.
There is a point here: For Turkey, Russia may in the long term replace the US on the economic and social plane. Turkey expects 4 million Russian tourists in 2012. The social and economic imprint of 4 million Russians spending time in Turkey is not something that should be underestimated.
So, what are the essentials of the Turkish-US strategic alliance? I believe there is no one essential in a Cold War sense. Maybe there are several “sleeping” essentials that might become important in a crisis like a war. Or one can formulate this to project a broader picture, such as “the key American interest is to keep Turkey a market-based liberal democracy.” But I am not sure that such essentials are operationally effective.