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National Security Desk / April 18, 2017

Trump Talks Turkey

Was his call motivated by admiration or the strategic need for cooperation with a dubious ally?

Monday night, Donald Trump called Turkish dictator, er, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer his congratulations on the recent referendum results granting Erdogan sweeping new power. The phone call certainly was strategically important for maintaining the necessary relationship the U.S. has with Turkey, it unfortunately lends further credence to a widely held view that Trump admires strongmen. So it’s time to separate media narrative from reality.

Trump’s apparent regard for strongmen may be born more out of an objection to the mainstream media’s attempt to control the narrative than any genuine admiration for dictators. Trump has acted as a provocateur to what he views as the establishment, which clearly includes the mainstream media. His penchant for tweeting coupled with his direct attacks on the media have demonstrated this repeatedly. He doesn’t like to be pinned down by others on policy positions he himself has not previously announced. But in all fairness, Trump’s bellicose talk at times has sounded like the musings of a would-be authoritarian, which is excuse enough for a hostile mainstream media to further its claim of Trump’s esteem for dictators.

Yet the real story is the one the Leftmedia misses. The fact is that the U.S. needs Turkey as an ally in its continuing fight against the Islamic State. While Turkey has never had a governmental system to be admired, it has generally maintained a rather stable system when compared to that of other Islamic majority nations in the region.

Turkey, and specifically Erdogan, has not been a sponsor of terrorism and has largely kept radical Islamic proponents at bay, and while his brutal crackdown after last year’s failed coup has rightfully brought condemnation from the West, his abuses pale in comparison to those of Bashar al-Assad, Saddam Hussain and Kim Jong Un. Erdogan absolutely is not one to be admired, but we also need his cooperation. Trump and his team evidently concluded a phone call was part of the price to pay.

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