Ever since the Tyrant of Turkey took complete control of his nation, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been having his cake and eating it too. He retains all of the benefits of being a NATO member, favorable trade deals, access to western technology and military hardware, and a key place on the global stage. But at the same time, he pals around with the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, takes hostages from multiple countries (including America), imprisons journalists and makes a mockery of his formerly democratic government. And now he’s thumbed his nose at the west yet again, taking delivery of an order of Russian S-400 surface to air missiles in defiance of NATO requirements. (NY Times)
The first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system arrived in Turkey on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced, a process that is expected to incur United States sanctions and will test the NATO alliance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has been insistent in his determination to purchase the S-400 system, Russia’s most advanced antiaircraft weaponry, despite warnings from the United States. Washington has cautioned that the deal will lead to economic penalties against Turkey, a fellow NATO member, and cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of American F-35 fighter jets.
The United States has been unyielding in its opposition to Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400.
The S-400 is not compatible with the rest of the military systems used by NATO. In the event of an outbreak of military conflict, Turkey would not be able to fully coordinate with the rest of her supposed allies. None of this seems to be of any concern to Erdogan, who has been repeatedly warned not to go through with this purchase.
So what can we do about it? Well, it’s too late to stop the sale since they already took delivery. But we can and should immediately cancel their anticipated purchase of our F-35 fighters. In reality, we shouldn’t have been lining up to sell them those jets in the first place. That’s some our top of the line technology, and Turkey is just going to wind up exposing our classified technology to the Russians anyway.
In addition to canceling any such sales, we should be imposing new sanctions on both Turkey and Erdogan personally, just as we’ve done with other tyrannical regimes. And if we can build consensus with the rest of our actual allies, Turkey should be put on notice that their future membership in NATO is not assured.
My major concern here is whether or not President Trump will be of a mind to take this situation seriously. One of my complaints about this administration has been the way that Donald Trump has cozied up to Erdogan from day one, even when he was holding Pastor Andrew Brunson hostage for years on end. I understand that Turkey retains a key position in that part of the world, particularly given their proximity to Syria and Iraq, but our patience can’t be unlimited. Erdogan is a tyrant and a thug who clearly values his relationships with Russia and Iran more than the ties he supposedly has with the west. And it’s time he was held accountable.