Yesterday, we kicked around the question of whether or not Pakistan can truly be considered an ally of the United States and the rest of the western nations. My unfortunate conclusion was that the government of Pakistan hasn’t been a true ally for quite some time, but we’re sort of stuck with them in a dysfunctional relationship, for the time being, lacking many viable alternatives in the region. A bit of news that broke last night reminds us of another country that will likely fall into the same category. That would be Turkey. While I’ve covered the various sins of Recep Tayyip Erdogan here in the past on more occasions than I could count, he’s still making inflammatory moves to remind us that he is in bed with America’s adversaries far more so than he is with the west. Despite warnings from the United States and the rest of Turkey’s supposed NATO allies, Erdogan is seemingly planning to purchase another shipment of the Russian S-400 missile system.
Turkey’s president has said he would consider buying a second Russian missile system in defiance of strong objections by the United States.
In an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would have to decide its defense systems on its own…
But Erdogan has remained defiant. “Of course, of course, yes,” Erdogan said after stating Turkey would make its own defense choices, in response to Brennan’s question on whether Turkey would buy more S-400s.
Before departing New York, Erdogan told journalists that relations with President Joe Biden hadn’t started well despite what he called his good work with previous U.S. leaders during his 19-years at Turkey’s helm.
Erdogan’s complaints about how his relationship with Joe Biden “hadn’t started well” should fall on deaf ears. I’ve spent plenty of time criticizing Biden’s handling of other foreign policy issues, but when it comes to Turkey there wasn’t much to be done. Erdogan has brought all of this upon himself and his country and if he’s unhappy with the way things are going he has no one to blame but himself.
As to his carping about not being “given the option to buy American-made Patriot missiles” and the cancellation of his purchase of F-35 fighters, that’s nonsense as well. He was initially offered the chance to order the Patriot missiles, but he was warned against negotiating with the Russians for a system that wasn’t compatible with NATO defense systems. His request for the F-35 Lightning fighters was denied because he had already moved forward with the S-400 purchase. Tying the Lightning fighters in with a Russian system could have opened a back door for Russia to access the control systems of our top-line fighter jets.
On top of all that, Erdogan has still been pursuing and killing the Kurds in Syria. Those are the same people who helped us and our actual NATO allies for years, but Turkey still considers them to be terrorists and hunts them down. And don’t even get me started on the number of people with American citizenship that he continues to keep locked up in his country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan actually had a fairly moderate and successful track record back when he was the Prime Minister of Turkey. But since taking the presidency and consolidating all executive power into his office as an authoritarian juggernaut, he’s established himself as little more than a tyrannical dictator. The close relationships he has developed with Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela over the past few years demonstrate how firmly he has cemented his ties to our adversaries. Turkey should be removed from NATO if we were living in a perfect world. Unfortunately, Turkey occupies a physical position giving it significant geopolitical power and influence. Erdogan knows this and continues to play both sides against each other, effectively getting the best of both worlds while being a completely unreliable “ally.”
And who does Erdogan have a private meeting scheduled with on Wednesday? Vladimir Putin. Actions speak louder than words, and Erdogan’s actions speak volumes. Yes, our relationship with Turkey is a hot mess, but this is one foreign policy debacle that we can’t pin on Joe Biden. The situation with Turkey has been falling to pieces for at least five years.