When I wrote yesterday about Turkish tyrant Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s impending state visit with President Trump, I was feeling pessimistic, to say the least. As it turns out, there was plenty of reason for us not to get our hopes up. The meeting supposedly went off about as well as it could have, particularly since none of Erdogan’s goons decided to go outside and start beating down protesters and reporters this time. But aside from that, was anything productive accomplished?
From the sound of things, precious little aside from a vague bit of word salad about a possible new trade agreement coming at some unspecified time in the future. But it was the action taking place in the background, on both the domestic and international fronts, that was making all the real headlines. (Associated Press)
President Donald Trump says he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are “very good friends,” but their meeting Wednesday at the White House failed to resolve an issue that has badly strained relations between the two NATO allies.
Trump and Erdogan concluded a visit without achieving an agreement on Turkey’s decision earlier this year to accept delivery of a Russian air defense system that poses such a threat to NATO security that the U.S. suspended Turkish participation in the multinational F-35 fighter jet program.
The Turkish president told reporters he might be persuaded to use the U.S.-made Patriot system “as well” as the Russian S-400. Trump said they would agree to keep working on the issue.
A $100 billion trade agreement would be nothing to sneeze at, assuming it ever happens, but that was about the only productive item on the agenda. There was no progress on the question of the S-4 missile system aside from Erdogan saying he “might” agree to accept our Patriot missile system “additionally” in the future. That doesn’t resolve anything if he still has the NATO incompatible S-4s in place.
Not a word was exchanged about the oppression of the press and Erdogan’s political opponents, along with other human rights violations back in Turkey. The question of the situation with the Kurds in northern Syria was given brief lip service, but that was about it.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s “very good friend” was found to have been mocking us during a conversation about the Russians prior to the state visit with Trump. (NBC News)
As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepares for Wednesday’s White House meeting with President Donald Trump, he’s threatening to further inflame tensions between Washington and Ankara by purchasing Russian military fighter jets, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.
Discussions about Turkey purchasing the fighter jets were advanced during a meeting between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin two weeks ago in Sochi, these people said.
Just as Erdogan was preparing to meet with Trump he was joking about finalizing a Turkish purchase of Russian fighter jets if he’s locked out of the F-35 program. (And he’s not really joking, though he appears to have found the subject humorous.) Is that how you treat your friends when you’re a world leader?
Perhaps even stranger than all of that was Lindsey Graham’s role in the proceedings. He’s recently been a vocal and admirable critic of Erdogan, stating that the attack on the Kurds was several bridges too far and calling for sanctions in response. The President invited Graham to take part in the summit, perhaps hoping that they could iron things out a bit and ease some of the Senator’s concerns.
I don’t know if that strategy worked or not, but Graham turned around and did something rather startling. He blocked a Senate resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. (The Hill)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blocked a resolution on Wednesday that would have formally recognized the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against the Armenian people.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked for consent to pass the resolution that would have provided “official recognition and remembrance” of the Armenian genocide.
What possible motivation did Graham have to block that resolution? Is he actually in denial about the Armenian genocide? More likely is the possibility that this was tied directly to the fact that Erdogan was in town. He flagrantly denies there was any sort of genocide of the Armenians and becomes infuriated when other nations bring it up.
But what does Graham get out of the deal? His criticism of Turkey’s incursion into Syria wasn’t addressed. None of the military concerns we’ve discussed here (and have been on the mind of the hawkish senator) were resolved. We basically got nothing out of that meeting, but one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the Senate scotches the deal on the Senate genocide resolution as a big ole’ gift to Erdogan with a bow wrapped around it?
I’m still unsure why Trump even bothered going through with the meeting, other than to draw attention away from the impeachment hearings. And our diplomatic situation with Turkey doesn’t seem to have been improved measurably in the process. We’ll close with a bit of appropriate snark from Jonah Goldberg on this subject.
I guess you could say the Turkey pardon came early this year.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) November 13, 2019