Turkey’s Drift From NATO

(NYT) — The website of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges that NATO has played a “central role” in the country’s security and insists that Turkey, which became a member in 1952, “attaches utmost importance” to it. Yet Turkey’s commitment to the alliance has never seemed more ambivalent than it does now.

On crucial issues — from fighting the Islamic State to fielding integrated defense systems, which share information and operate together, to standing firm against Russian aggression in Ukraine — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government either are not cooperating fully or are acting in outright defiance of NATO’s priorities and interests. Add the fact that Turkey under Mr. Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian, and it becomes apparent that the country is drifting away from an alliance whose treaty says it is “founded on the principles of democracy” as much as defense.

For months, the Western allies have pressured Turkey to close its porous border, which has allowed thousands of jihadists to cross into Syria to join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and has enabled ISIS to smuggle in weapons and smuggle out oil on which it relies for revenue.

Although the Turkish government has taken some steps to make transit harder, it has been unwilling, or unable, to stem the flow, according to Tim Arango and Eric Schmitt’s reporting in The Times. One smuggler said that while his job has become more difficult, sometimes the Turkish border guards look the other way.

Completely shutting down the long border may be impossible, but given the country’s large military and well-regarded intelligence service, it is inexcusable that Turkey is not doing a better job. Turkey should also be making military bases and troops available to the American-led coalition, but James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Congress recently that he was not optimistic that Turkey would do more against ISIS because it had “other priorities and other interests.”

Public opinion polls show that the Turks don’t consider ISIS a primary threat, and Mr. Erdogan is more concerned with opposing Kurdish autonomy within Syria and with bringing down the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad…

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  • simus1

    Erdogan is playing a double game which eventually includes syria becoming his stooge state and northern iraq’s oil resources falling under his barely veiled control.

    • Frau Katze

      He definitely wants to see the Alawites (Assad) and Shia put in their place.

      • DVult

        Boot them out. If as a consequence Putin wants to invade them then stand off and let them go at it. I’d rather see the Russians controlling Anatolia than the Turks anyway.

        • Destroyer-Drone

          The Greeks should be in charge of quarantining the region if anything.

          • DVult

            I don’t think the Greeks are up to it and that ship may already have sailed. The Russians have far more resources and may be capable of the barbarity that would be required. Whatever happens though why are we wasting our resources protecting the Turks from anybody? To hell with them.

          • Destroyer-Drone

            Granted. The real problem with Greece is the fact that the reds of Syriza are in power, and they look a lot like those folks of the “Eastern Party” (with strong anti-Western, pro-Islamic, neo-Ottomanist, pro-Turkey, Third Worldist aspirations). So it wouldn’t make any sense to grant them such a vast territory right now…although they have a stronger claim to it than Turks of course.

            The whole point of keeping Turkey in NATO was counterbalancing Soviet power in the Mediterranean & the Black Sea. This is the same principle that dictated Anglo-French foreign policy with regards to the Ottomans during the 1850s (Crimean War).
            Czarist Russia sought to lay its hands on Constantinople, the Danubian region whilst using Christian rights in the Holy Land as a justification. Despite Russia’s failure in the Crimean War, Christians got their rights at the end of the day.

            Then the Entente powers tried to split up the Ottoman Empire by the end of WWI, Greece was supposed to get a huge chunk of Eastern Thrace and Western Anatolia:

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/84/ParisPeace-Venizelos-Map.png/800px-ParisPeace-Venizelos-Map.png

            Unfortunately; the whole area’s Greek population was ethnically cleansed in a war between the two which lasted from 1919 to 1922. All thanks to Atatürk, who would become one of the lesser known influential models of A.Hitler.

            I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Greece is a Western country given its tumultuous past with the Ottomans, but it is a predecessor to our Western civilisation in so many incalculable ways that it is downright silly to cast them aside for Turkey.
            That being said, Greece is as much of a predecessor of the West (in terms of thought, philosophy, architecture, law, medicine, etc…you name it) as it is for the Eurasian-Russian world. Orthodoxy & the Cyrillic alphabet were both product of Byzantine Greeks after all.

            The stakes are high and despite our current malaise, we ought to turn the Greeks over to our side. Otherwise Russia further grows in power, and that’s hardly desirable in my book.

          • DVult

            The time to support the Greeks was then against Ataturk rather than standing off and letting them be massacred in Smyrna and elsewhere. It’s hard to undo genocide after it has occurred except with counter genocide and difficult to see what else to do. We could drastically increase our military and other support for Greece and decrease or eliminate support for Turkey but Turks still outnumber Greeks 75 million to 12.

  • Hard Little Machine

    NATO’s second largest military force is Turkey. NATO membership is more or less a requirement that Obama will hold over them to gain access to the F-35 Tier 2 program. Turkey is slated to be a sub assembly manufacturer under that program. They need access to sell it to China and Iran.

  • Destroyer-Drone

    *Triple Facepalm*

    Turkey has already ‘drifted’ 41 years ago when it illegally invaded Cyprus and attacked Greece: another NATO member. Forcing it to withdraw from NATO for over 6 years.

    It is beyond madness to deem Turkey compatible with the Western world, let alone including it along our civilisation’s military arm (NATO). The turks aren’t Western, they’re not even a fifth column for that matter. All they’ve done so far is greedily suck out most of our resources to fulfill their own agenda. That’s the sum of their contribution to NATO.

    A Greek-controlled Anatolia shall always be a much-preferred alternative if we all wish to curtail Russian presence in the Mediterranean via the Hellespont & the Bosphorus. So let’s stop pretending they’re valuable allies, they’ve been a stain on NATO forces since day one.

    • DVult

      I agree but how could this be achieved?

      • Destroyer-Drone

        One option could be retaking the Aegean coastline along with Thrace by simultaneously liberating Northern Cyprus: since this puppet state is completely illegal and warrants a casus belli.

        It would logically pitch Turkey & Greece in a war around the Aegean islands (which is already in a permanent state of alert, fighters from either side constantly chase one another in what they consider to be their rightful airspace), Israel could also chime in with Cyprus.

        Of course, this is but a ‘hawkish’ [yet legally feasible] dream at the present time.

        • DVult

          The first step is a military coup against Erdopig. Then a resecularization program with very large teeth has to be implemented.