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Foreign Policy

Time to Break Up With Turkey

Our "ally" has become far more problematic than helpful. New policy would help.

Harold Hutchison · Nov. 5, 2019

When it comes to American policy in the Middle East, there is something that will clearly have to be done, even though it will be quite painful. To quote noted foreign-policy expert Taylor Swift, the United States needs to tell the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “We are never ever ever getting back together.”

Loyal Patriot Post readers will know that we have been discussing the misdeeds of Erdogan and his regime for a long time. The Erdogan regime is different from the likes of Iran only by virtue of the fact that it has not openly called for the elimination of Israel. That’s cold comfort.

The fact is, kicking Erdogan’s regime out of the F-35 program was the right call, even if the purchase of the Russian-built S-400/SA-21 air-defense system was the wrong reason. America’s most advanced multirole fighter did not need to fall into the hands of a regime that is trending against American values, not to mention showing hostility toward America’s best ally in the Middle East — Israel.

The recent Turkish attack on the Kurds, despite the blunt warning President Donald Trump gave Erdogan, is just another sign that the Erdogan regime and America are just on separate, irreconcilable paths. While the withdrawal decision was controversial, there is one benefit — it gave Erdogan enough rope to hang himself in terms of his reputation and standing amongst the American people.

The fact is, Erdogan is taking Turkey back in time — and it now should be obvious that the failure of the 2016 coup is coming back to bite America. Erdogan has doubled down on taking the full Islamist path, he is willing to go after the Kurds, and he is a friend of Hamas — an organization designated as a terrorist group. These are deal-breakers, especially in our post-9/11 world.

Meanwhile, we have nuclear weapons deployed in Turkey that would need to be moved. But 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs cannot be just flown to anywhere. The issue is not just the physical security of the nukes. Their deployment also is a statement of national commitment. We could move them to Eastern Europe — say, Romania — but that would unnerve the Russians. Not a bad option in the course of things, but given the situation in the Middle East, there is a much better option — and one that can send a message to our ex-ally in Ankara.

The nukes — and the American aircraft based at Incirlik Air Base — should be moved to Israel.

This does several things. First of all, it sends a strong message to the world that the United States will stand by Israel. While Israel is reported to have its own nukes, to have American nuclear weapons in Israel would be a major deterrent to Iran.

Second, it would still maintain America’s position in the Middle East — in fact, it would improve it. American and Israeli military personnel would be able to train together, and the Israelis have a great deal of expertise in electronic warfare — something that could help America in a potential conflict with Russia. American forces would still be able to handle ISIS in Syria while launching from Israel, and the Israelis are much more reliable allies. Israel is a redoubt of democracy and respect for human rights, and American policy should support it.

Third, given the harsh realities of the War on Terror and the lessons that have come from 18 years of fighting jihadis, moving American forces to Israel would also bolster the chances for long-term peace in the region by deterring aggression, mostly by making starting a war with Israel (or America) look futile to any Middle East miscreant.

Finally, moving American forces will deprive Erdogan of potential hostages that he can use to affect American foreign policy. This is not a small consideration. The safety of our troops will be a major concern as America breaks up with Erdogan. As hard as it would be, this breakup is rapidly becoming necessary.

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