One more reason why NATO should go the way of the Warsaw Pact

by 1389 on December 11, 2015

in 1389 (blog admin), NATO, Russia, Turkey

The Week: Turkey is now a huge liability for NATO — and America

When Turkey entered the NATO defense alliance in 1952, it was a major coup for Europe and for America. Turkey had control of the strategically important Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles. The NATO alliance could therefore exercise a preemptively tight grip on the Soviet Union’s only direct access to Western warm-water ports. Furthermore, Turkey was a secular doorway into the resource-rich Middle East.

But it’s now 2015. The Soviet Union has been dead and gone for a quarter of a century. The Middle East is an absolute mess. And 63 years after joining the alliance, Turkey has turned into one of NATO’s and America’s biggest liabilities in the region. Indeed, there seems to be no hope of re-balancing this alliance to make it a positive one for the West.

The presumption of shared values between Turkey and the West is disappearing. Ataturk’s secular state in Turkey is long gone, and Recep Erdogan is slowly putting together a more Islamic state in its place. Press freedoms are being destroyed, clear evidence that Turkey is no longer part of the free world.

Consequently, the terms of the debate between Turkey and Russia have changed since the Cold War, or really, reverted to their more traditional form. Turkey and Russia see each other not just as once-great powers that are often at odds, but as religious-political rivals dating back to the years of Islamic expansion against Christendom. Leaders of both countries use their religious history, perhaps cynically, to justify to their respective publics their foreign policy in the Middle East. NATO was an alliance of the Free World versus Communism. But now, the more resonant axis of conflict between Russia and Turkey is the Ottoman Empire versus Orthodoxy.

Turkey’s interests no longer align neatly with the West’s. Erdogan’s own son is accused of collaborating with ISIS to transport ISIS’s oil through Turkey. Turkey has been reckless with Europe’s security, by allowing jihadists to travel through it both coming from Europe and returning from the battlefields of Syria. Turkey’s major strategic goals in the Syrian civil war do not align with our own, since their first-order concerns are to prevent the Kurds from gaining strength to attack the Turkish state, and to protect Turkmen living in Syria. Removing Bashar al-Assad from power is a lesser goal for them. Defeating ISIS hardly rates at all.

Another huge problem: The NATO alliance creates a moral hazard through its security guarantee to Turkey. Although Turkey has not yet invoked Article 5 — which obliges every member to act in concert in defense of another member — our needy, unstable, and burgeoning dictatorship of an ally acts in increasingly provocative ways, like shooting down a Russian jet, precisely because no one on the Russian or NATO side really wants to put Article 5 to the test…

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