From the Rimland to the Heartland: The Geopolitical Consequences of the American Sanctions

From the Rimland to the Heartland: The Geopolitical Consequences of the American Sanctions


Turkey first received with the American aid after 1946. The victorious nuclear power of the Second World War took hegemony in the middle of the 20th century from Great Britain, one of the greatest powers of the 18th and 19th centuries which the Ottomans had viad with for many years. Both of these powers got their strength from the dominance of the oceans and seas. Both had Capitalist Protestant ethics and practices, as well as imperialist theories and traditions. They were both invited with the excuses of protecting Anatolia and its surrounding geographies against Russia and later the USSR. The Ottoman Empire, which could not catch up with the industrial revolution and the age of enlightenment, was lost in the dark vortex of religious extremism and had even handed the minds and souls of its defense forces to the foreigners. Wherever we look in the military history of the Ottoman periods of decline and collapse, we see the memoirs of the representatives of hegemons, foreign military advisors. The French, German, American, and mostly British advisors did their best to hide the interests of their own nation-states. They had only one goal: to weaken the Ottoman Empire.


From 1946 until the FETO coup attempt on July 15, 2016 – for 70 years- instead of military advisors, the military and civilian bureaucracy of the United States and NATO, and the domestic media and academics served in this role. With almost three generations of brainwashing and captivation, they created thousands of servants of imperialism in our country. They all became our new foreign military advisors.

An average person thinks and lives for today. Thinking and living in tomorrow and in the far future requires an intellectual accumulation and experience. Societies that have inherited peace and prosperity, and societies that do not condescend to questioning and that are left ignorant, cannot set their route right if they do not have qualified and merited administrative and academic circles. The dominant hegemony carves that path for them instead. Ataturk had seen this threat at the beginning of the War of Independence.


The key term here is to defend the Turkish independence that has passed onto generations throughout history. Unfortunately, after the loss of independence, Anatolia could not develop leaders who could dream and foresee tomorrow, and instead ended up with the leaders who have stuck with today. We paid a heavy price, and we are still paying it. We opened the safety locks of our independence gates by signing a tripartite agreement with Britain and France in 1939 and an agreement granting trade benefits for the United States in the same year. Now the doors were open. A mutual aid agreement was signed between the United States and Turkey on February 23, 1945 when it was certain that they would win the war. The second article of the precursor articles of the agreement included the condition that the Turkish government would provide services, facilities, and intelligence to the United States as requested. After the Marshall plan, which would be signed only two years later, the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MAH) and the CIA would begin working in cooperation. We have opened up our most private space to foreigners. With the loan agreement signed on February 27, 1946, some of the military equipment that the United States would not even bother taking back home was sold to Turkey. Turkey was given a loan of $10 million for this. With this, we basically signed a death sentence for our own national defense industry. Now, the way for these American leftover modern tanks, small arms, aircraft and warships to be given away to our country was opened. It was already seen that this deal was coming one month before. Turkey was pushed into the protective arms of the Western powers by the panic caused by the exaggerations on the Soviet diplomatic notes by the Atlanticist elite in the United States and in Turkey. US President Harry Truman said in a speech in January 1946, “I no longer doubt that the Soviets desire to take over the Turkish Straits. If we do not put an iron fist to this and make it stop, there will surely be a new war.” A year later, Truman initiated the Truman Doctrine with his speech on March 12, 1947. In his speech, he said: “Turkey is in need of our support. Since the war, Turkey has been asking the United States and Great Britain for extra support in carrying out the modernization of the military, which is necessary to ensure its own national integrity. This integrity is also for maintaining order in the Middle East.


Now the geopolitical contribution of Turkey, either by its geography or with its population pool, has been put under the service of imperialism, with the Rimland theory and containment policy of George Kennan, which aimed to lock and surround the USSR in the Heartland in Eurasia and forment the establishment of Israel in the Middle East, which President Truman supported, unlike the previous President Roosevelt. As a result, the UN has approved the establishment of Israel on the Palestinian territories on November 29, 1947. A year later, on May 14, 1948, Israel was declared as an independent state.


On July 12, 1947, the military aid treaties of the Truman Doctrine were signed by Turkey. And the second article of the Johnson letter, which was sent in the summer of 1964, was as follows: “Turkey is expected to utilize the assistance that it was given, to be used for the purpose, which was agreed upon.”


The economic aid designed by the Truman doctrine to bring Europe, which was devastated by the war, back on its feet, came with the Marshall Plan. Turkey was over enthusiastic to be a signatory in this plan, although it did not join World War II. The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were unfortunately, the only holy grails that post-war Turkey would ever strive for. Governments in Turkey were in a rush to gain the favor of the United States. Turkey was included in the plan on the condition that it will become the European breadbasket and give up on its heavy industry. Turkey got the least amount of assistance. Industrialization came to a halt. Turkey, which had lost the ability to find its own solutions, was no longer looking for a solution within, but rather in the Atlantic, beyond the horizon.


The Agreement on the Establishment of an Educational Commission between Turkey and the United States, two years later in 1949, heavily disrupted the foundations of the nationalist, republican, statist, revolutionary, populist and secular educational system, which was initiated by Ataturk.


Whilst we were granting them permission for our destiny to be stolen from us and allowed our country to shift away from Kemalism, Turkey began to fully accept that its destiny would be determined from Washington DC, London and Paris, after being a member of NATO in 1952. Its existence was a geopolitical gift to the Rimland and Containment policies and to the security of the newly established state of Israel in the Middle East.


The Strategies of Rimlands and the Containment Policy are strong. Turkey is the golden child of a grand strategy, which its effects are still felt greatly to this day. But Turkey does not even realize that it is being used as a tool. That golden child would not get into any dispute with his American boss on national interests, until June 5, 1964. Two months after a praise speech was made by the head of the opposition party Ismet Inonu in Turkish parliament on February 24, 1960 an American U-2 spy plane which had taken off from Turkey, was shot down over the USSR. Neither the President nor the Prime Minister of Turkey knew anything about the activities of that airplane. During the Cuban Missile crisis between October 16 and October 28, 1962 the American Jupiter nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey were negotiated between Robert Kennedy and the Russian Ambassador in a bar in the capital city of the US. The Turkish government was able to learn the final decision of the negotiations and our nation was able to learn about the presence of these missiles on Anatolian lands, thanks to the international media. The situation was a disgrace.


Exactly 4 years, 3 months, and 9 days after Inonu’s praise speech in the Turkish Parliament on February 24, 1960, Turkey announced that it would intervene with a naval operation in Cyprus where fellow Turkish kinsmen were brutally massacred. Three days later, on June 5, 1964, the US Ambassador brought a letter from the American President Johnson. This opportunistic friendship just had its first fight. In fact, the first signs of this fight were given on April 16, 1964, when Inonu gave a statement to Time magazine. “A new world will be built on new rules. And Turkey would also find its place in this new world.” But that was far from what happened. Two months after this statement in June, he had to receive this harsh letter from the American President, and shortly after the letter, he had to make a visit of allegiance to the United States. Only one and a half years later on January 13, 1966, thanks to the late journalist Cuneyt Arcayurek, the Turkish public was able to find out about the content of the letter.


After 1964, many crises took place between Turkey and the United States. The arms embargo imposed between 1975 and 1978 after the Cyprus Peace Operation; the Poppy crisis of 1975, and shutting down 21 American bases; Missile attack on Turkish Destroyer Muavanet in 1992, delaying the purchase of FFG7 (G Class) frigates to Turkey in 1995; reaction against the rejection of the American intervention on Northern Iraq in March 1, 2003; the Sulaymaniyah event on July 4, 2003; the support of FETO on 2008-2014 Sledgehammer and Ergenekon trials; FETO coup attempt on July 15, 2016; the S-400 crisis in 2017; the approval of the so-called genocide bill by the American Senate in 2019; the US Senate decisions on F-35s, S-400s and TurkStream in 2020; and the bill of sanctions by the President of the United States on December 2020, have been the turning points that state bureaucracy has involved in. Add onto this US support for the PKK, PYD, YPG by the statement of “Our Forces on the Ground“; the unconditional Greek and Greek Cypriot support against the Blue Homeland in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean Seas; attacks on the diplomatic balances of the Montreux Convention in the Black Sea, through Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Ukraine; and the threats of economic destruction through overinflation, to all this…


These attacks cannot be explained as the actions of an ally, but rather as those of a hostile adversary, much like we have seen as a result of the CAATSA (Countering American “Adversaries” Through Sanctions Act), which the United States is keen to practice. If the United States has their CAATSA, the Turkish people have their own free will.


The United States is moving back and forth between acting to keep Turkey within the rimland or push it away. They completely lost Iran in 1979, and China after 1990. The political geography we are in is directly related to the courses of global geopolitics, rimland, energy, and the security of Israel. It should be noted that the Truman Doctrine included Turkey in the Atlantic axis in 1947 precisely due to the geopolitics of the Rimland (containment) and the security of Israel. Turkey had been very weak in demography, economically, and militarily back in those years. Today, the tide has turned, and the US is well aware of that change. Turkey is not like Germany, France, Japan or Italy. These countries were either occupied or liberated by the United States during or after World War II. No one has liberated or established us. Turkey has the power and the traditions to make its own decisions and carve its own path in the 21st century. In the politics of containment on Turkey, which began after the FETO coup attempt, the United States has initiated a whole new process. The United States is pushing Turkey towards the Heartland with all its strength. The United States has given Turkey a wonderful opportunity to choose with its recent sanctions decision. At a time when the global hegemony is about to change hands, the Washington Consensus has gone into a coma, and the Asian century is rising. This process marks a fresh start for future generations. Turkey, which is now snapped away from the Rimland and its sphere of influence, will draw close to the doctrine of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk every day. The Rimland that has driven Turkey away from Ataturk also created the conditions that will break its chains.

The unstoppable course of history is now on the side of Turkey and the Turkish Nation.

Cem Gürdeniz
Admiral Cem Gürdeniz graduated from Turkish Naval Academy in 1979. As a deck officer, he served in different in destroyers and frigates. He assumed the Command of guided missile frigate TCG Gaziantep and the Third Destroyer Division. He completed his education in Turkish Naval War College and Armed Forces College. He holds two masters degrees from US Naval Postgraduate School and Université Libre Brussels (ULB) in personnel management and international politics respectively. He was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral (lower half) in 2004 and upper half in 2008. He served as the Chief, Strategy and Agreements Department and then the Head of Plans and Policy Division in Turkish Naval Forces Headquarters. As his combat duties, he has served as the commander of Amphibious Ships Group and Mine Fleet. He retired in 2012 as a result of the Sledgehammer Bogus Case. He is the founder and Director of the Istanbul Koc University Maritime Forum. In addition to his native Turkish, he is fluent in English and French. Admiral GUrdeniz is the writer of numerous publications in multiple languages languages including ‘Bluehomeland Writings.’ He is a columnist at Aydınlık Daily and Yacht Magazine.

4 responses to “From the Rimland to the Heartland: The Geopolitical Consequences of the American Sanctions”

  1. Nilgun Ozer says:

    This is an excellent article. Admiral Gurdeniz’s article made me think about the geopolitical Consequences on the CAATSA sanctions. Very well-written.

  2. Andaç Bilgen says:

    Çok teşekkür ederim.1946 yılından bu yana okyanus ötesi ile başlayan 2020 devam eden “doğruluğun önemsizleştirilmesi” siyaseti devam etmektedir.
    Keyes’in 2004 dediği gibi“Eğer yalancılık norm haline gelirse toplum çöker”sözünün özünde saklı olan yalanlarla toplumların düşünce ve sorgulama sistemleri felce uğratılmıştır.Aksine duygulara seslenerek toplumlar safsatalara kanarak Amerika,Rusya gibi devletlerin göreceli güçüne inanmışlardır.

  3. Ali Yüksel Önel says:

    A well founded, clear and precise note to the history. Congratulations Admiral Gurdeniz.

  4. Mehmet T. Sindel says:

    There is much more to be said but as a gentleman, Admiral Gurdeniz appears to have confined himself to a courteous discourse. Thankyou.

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June 2024