President Erdogan has shown it is no longer in the national security interest of the United States to be allied with Turkey.
Turkey joined NATO in 1952 to prevent the Soviet Union from drawing it into its sphere of influence. At that time, an alliance between Turkey and the West made sense. Today, however, the Cold War and the the Communist threat are no more.
The coup of July 15th must be examined with care. There are two prevailing interpretations of what transpired: One suggests President Erdogan was behind the coup, while the other claims the coup was planned in haste before Erdogan moved ruthlessly against his adversaries. Regardless of which theory is correct, what has transpired since the coup requires little, if any, interpretation.
Arresting thousands of Turkish soldiers, laying off 15,000 education workers, and purging the media and judiciary reveals a single goal: Erdogan wants dictatorial control.
We were warned of this in the past. President Assad of Syria has said that Erdogan thinks “He is the new sultan of the Ottoman [Empire] and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella. In his heart he thinks he is a caliph.”
For too long, we have been allied with countries that do not have our best interests at heart. Over time these alliances have come back to haunt us, and they will continue to do so. Whether it be our alliance with the Shah in the 1970s or Saudi Arabia today all of these have resulted in blowback.
President Erdogan has bombed Kurds in Iraq and Syria, Turkish troops have violated the territorial sovereignty of Iraq with relative ease, and Islamist fighters have entered Turkey. All of this works against our national interest.
President Erdogan and Turkey are only interested in their ambition to re-establish the Ottoman Empire.
President Erdogan is a cunning man, and he is playing us for fools. He does not care about the Islamist threat we face; instead, he wishes to oppress the Kurdish community in Turkey, install a friendly Islamist regime in Syria, and make himself the next sultan.
How has he been able to do this? American weaponry and support.
In the past, Turkey was a necessary ally against Soviet Communism, but that necessity no longer exists. One could even suggest that the secular, authoritarian Syrian state is less of a threat to our security than President Erdogan is at this moment.
Some will say disengagement with Turkey is isolationist, but it is nothing of the sort. Instead of hitching ourselves to a tyrannical Islamist regime that does not share our interests or values, we should avoid inflexible, entangling alliances. If we are to truly have a pro-America foreign policy, then it is time to take the advice of Thomas Jefferson:
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations…entangling alliances with none.”