Posted tagged ‘Nato’

Time to Kick Turkey Out of NATO?

January 19, 2018

Michael J. Totten January 19, 2018 World Affairs

Source: Time to Kick Turkey Out of NATO?

{That would be like a huge multi-national corporation kicking out a major subsidiary. Not going to happen. – LS}

The case for evicting Turkey from NATO got stronger this week.

First, the United States announced the backing of a Kurdish security force—the People’s Protection Units, or YPG—in Rojava, the quasi-independent Kurdish region in northeastern Syria along the Turkish border. Then Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will “strangle” that American-backed force “before it’s even born.” Russia, Iran and Syria’s Assad regime are standing with Erdogan.

The YPG, along with the multiethnic Syrian Democratic Forces which the YPG dominates, are the only armed groups indigenous to Syria that are willing and able to take on ISIS and win, and they’re the only significant armed faction in Syria’s dizzying civil war that isn’t ideologically hostile to the West. In October of last year, they finally liberated Raqqa, the “capital” of the ISIS “caliphate,” while the Russian and Syrian militaries were busy pounding rebels instead in the west.

The Turks would rather have the Assad regime—and by extension Russia, Iran and Hezbollah—rule over the Syrian Kurds whom they consider terrorists. The United States is “building an army of terror” along the southern border, Erdogan says. “Either you take off your flags on those terrorist organisations, or we will have to hand those flags over to you, Don’t force us to bury in the ground those who are with terrorists…Our operations will continue until not a single terrorist remains along our borders, let alone 30,000 of them.”

This is not how a NATO ally behaves. It’s how an enemy state behaves. There is truly no getting around this. We can argue all we want—and I have—that keeping Turkey in NATO is better than kicking Turkey out of NATO because it’s better to deal with a troublesome country inside an ostensibly friendly framework than outside one.

There are limits, though, even if those limits aren’t clearly defined. A direct Turkish attack against the United States would clearly be over the line whether a line is defined or not, as would a direct attack against another NATO member state. Attacking a non-NATO ally is more ambiguous, especially when the non-NATO ally in question isn’t even a state. (It’s not like Turkey is threatening to attack Israel, Japan or Morocco.)

None of this could have been foreseen when NATO was founded in 1949 or when Turkey was admitted in 1952. NATO was founded as a united Western front against the Soviet Union, which occupied or indirectly controlled half of Europe, including a third of Germany. Iran’s Islamic Republic, the Syrian Baath Party regime, armed Kurdish separatist movements, ISIS—none of these even existed then, and only the Kurdish movements could even have been imagined.

The world has dramatically changed, as has NATO. In 1952, Turkey was a crucial member in good standing while Estonia was part of the Soviet Union. In 2018, Estonia is a member in good standing while Turkey is behaving as a belligerent. No one should be surprised that alliances have shifted after seven decades. Alliances always shift over time. Enemies become friends and vice versa. Not even Britain has been a constant friend of the United States, and not even Russia has been a constant enemy.

Changes like these happen slowly, and the West is having a hard time processing the fact that Turkey is increasingly hostile, though it has been for some time now. It started when Ankara denied the use of its territory, including Incirlik Air Base, during the war against Saddam Hussein, mostly because Turkey didn’t want Iraqi Kurdistan to become an economic and military powerhouse. Later, Erdogan helped Iran transfer weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and implicitly sided with ISIS in Syria because he didn’t want an independent Kurdish region to rise up in Syria as it had in Iraq. More recently, he has taken American citizens hostage and purchased a missile system from the Kremlin. And how he’s threatening to destroy the only competent Western-friendly militia in all of Syria.

Last August, as Erdogan visited his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin in Moscow, NATO issued a telling statement. “Turkey is a valued ally, making substantial contributions to NATO’s joint efforts… Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question.”

Stop right there. Of course Turkey’s NATO membership is in question. Otherwise, why bother denying it? NATO isn’t denying that the United Kingdom or Canada doesn’t belong in NATO any longer. NATO is only denying that Turkey’s membership is in question, which is another way of saying it is. Anyway, you can type “Turkey out of NATO” into Google and spend a year wading through the results.

The statement continues: “Our Alliance is committed to collective defence and founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, human rights and the rule of law.” Indeed, the alliance was founded on all of those principles, none of which increasingly authoritarian Turkey adheres to any longer.

If Turkey were not in NATO, it would not be admitted. It’s grandfathered in at this point.

It’s much easier to say no to an aspiring member that doesn’t belong than to evict a longstanding member who no longer belongs, especially when there’s no clear criteria for banishment. It’s about time, then, for NATO to have a serious discussion about what the criteria for banishment is. That alone might improve Turkey’s behavior. If it doesn’t, we’ll have other options.

In sweeping speech, Trump calls out Russia for supporting ‘hostile regimes’

July 6, 2017

In sweeping speech, Trump calls out Russia for supporting ‘hostile regimes’, Washington ExaminerSarah Westwood, July 6, 2017

(Please see also, Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Views from Central Europe.– DM)

President Trump applauded Poland’s commitment to secure borders, called out Russia for its activities in Ukraine and Syria and affirmed America’s collective defense commitment to NATO in a sweeping speech Thursday that set the tone for his visit to the G-20 summit this week.

“While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind,” Trump said before a large crowd in Warsaw’s historic Krasinski Square.

Unlike much of western Europe, Poland has resisted accepting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees, and its right-wing ruling party has advocated for keeping Polish borders secure. Trump’s decision to visit Poland and deliver remarks about his worldview before moving on to Germany for the summit was widely viewed as a symbolic endorsement of Poland’s actions.

“This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism,” Trump said on Thursday. “There are dire threats to our security and to our way of life.You see what’s happening out there, they are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Trump pointed to the “steady creep of government bureacracy” as another threat facing Poland the U.S.

“The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies. Americans, Poles and nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” Trump said. “We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

“If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies,” the president added. “We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.”

Citing Poland’s historic mistrust of the Soviet Union, Trump went after Russia for its present-day conduct.

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran,” Trump said.

The president also voiced his support for NATO’s Article 5, the collective defense commitment Trump declined to endorse explicitly during his visit to a NATO summit in May.

“My administration has demanded that all members of NATO finally meet their full and fair financial obligation,” Trump said, referring to his push for NATO allies to honor their commitments to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. “As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.

“To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the U.S. has demonstrated not merely with words, but with actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5,” Trump said. “Words are easy, but actions are what matters.

“Europe must do more,” Trump added. “Europe must demonstrate that it believes in its future by investing its money to secure its future.”

Administration officials said the speech was intended to be “very philosphical.”

“The core theme of this speech is a defense of western civilization,” an official told reporters in Warsaw ahead of the speech. “But the basic question of the speech is, are we as a civilization confident enough in our own values to defend and preserve our civilization?”

Trump will head to the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday, where he will meet with a number of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s Warsaw Uprising

July 6, 2017

Trump’s Warsaw Uprising, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, July 6, 2017

President Donald Trump delivers a speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle, Thursday, July 6, 2017, in Warsaw. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

If you want to know why Donald Trump will go down in history as a great president, listen to (or read, when it is available) his speech in Krasinski Square, Warsaw today.

Yes, there is a lot of the usual diplomatic persiflage: “Thank you, President Duda. Thank you, Poland.” But be an adult and distinguish the gem from the setting. While the anti-Trump press was busy running stories warning about “unease in Brussels” over Trump’s visit to Poland, Trump once again totally outflanked his critics.  Those who have ears, let them hear:

  1. The United States is absolutely committed to securing Poland’s access to alternative sources of energy.  Now, to whom do you think that was addressed?  What country would use access to oil and gas as political blackmail (do what we say or you can’t warm your homes, light your streets, run your factories)? Who would do such a thing?
  2. The United States is absolutely committed to its trans-Atlantic partnership. That partnership, said Trump in his aspirational mode, has never been stronger: suitably translated, that means that he wishes to assure that it will never be stronger.  It was a proffered hand.  Will the EU bureaucrats reach out and grasp it?
  3. Speaking of bureaucrats, Trump also—mirabile dictu—warned about “steady creep of government bureaucracy” that, left unchecked, saps a people’s will and makes the flourishing of individual initiative, the very marrow of freedom, impossible.  This was a direct kick against the administrative state: I like to see it. Darin the Swamp.
  4. Trump reaffirmed his absolute commitment to Article 5 of the NATO agreement — the bit that pledges members to “collective defense”: an attack on one member is an attack on all. He praised Poland for stepping up to meet its statutory financial commitment to NATO and urged other European countries to do the same. A strong NATO means a strong Europe.
  5. Trump reaffirmed his commitment to battle against “radical Islamic terrorism” and other forms of extremism and highlighted his call in Riyadh in May for Muslim countries to step up and help quash the violence of jihad.
  6. He noted other challenges faced by the West, including cyber-warfare and Russia’s “destabilizing activities” in Ukraine, Syria, and Iran.
  7. But the best part came about three-quarters of the way through.  After reminding his audience about the million people who gathered to hear John Paul II celebrate Mass in 1979, he asked: what did the people want? Answer: “We want God.” This led into the heart of Trump’s speech.  The prerequisite for the success of Western civilization is not material riches. Economic prosperity and military might on their own are not sufficient. The critical leaven is the confidence in core Western values: such things as free speech, the equality of women, respect for individual rights, the rule of law, the affirmation of faith and family.  Hence, the “fundamental question” facing Western nations today is whether the people continue to nurture the cultural self-confidence in those fundamental values. If they do, the West is unbeatable. If those values dissipate, the West is lost.  “As long as we know our history,” Trump said, “we will know how to build our future.” Trump spent a lot of time in his speech rehearsing Poland’s heroic resistance to Nazi atrocities in the Warsaw uprising and its equally heroic resistance to Soviet aggression during and after the war. Not since Ronald Reagan has an American president gone so clearly to the nub of what makes the West great and what threatens that greatness.

Trump Intends To Add Two Prominent Conservatives To His Administration

June 30, 2017

Trump Intends To Add Two Prominent Conservatives To His Administration, Daily CallerAlex Pfeiffer, June 30, 2017

Von Spakovksy’s nomination is sure to please conservatives. He is currently a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and part of his work there is concentrating on voter fraud.

He wrote in a December 2016 op-ed with John Fund that “there is a real chance that significant numbers of noncitizens and others are indeed voting illegally, perhaps enough to make up the margin in some elections.”

The commission he is set to join will investigate this specific case.

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President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he intends to bring on former Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky and former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson to his administration.

Bailey Hutchinson was formally nominated to serve as ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and von Spakovsky will be appointed to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Hutchinson,73, served as a Republican senator until 2012 when she decided to not run for re-election. “I am honored to be nominated by [President Trump] to be Ambassador for the United States to [NATO]..our most important security alliance,” Hutchinson said in a tweet.

President Trump will travel to a G20 summit in Germany next week and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters on Thursday that POTUS will make America’s commitment to the alliance clear.

Von Spakovksy’s nomination is sure to please conservatives. He is currently a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and part of his work there is concentrating on voter fraud.

He wrote in a December 2016 op-ed with John Fund that “there is a real chance that significant numbers of noncitizens and others are indeed voting illegally, perhaps enough to make up the margin in some elections.”

The commission he is set to join will investigate this specific case.

Trump to Germany: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

May 29, 2017

Trump to Germany: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way, PJ Media, Michael Walsh, May 28, 2017

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

What the president understands, and the Europeans pretend not to, is that Russia is no longer the direct menace it was during the days of the Fulda Gap, and that the real menace to Europe and NATO (which, by the way, includes the Islamicizing state of Turkey) is Islam, and its ongoing invasion of the historic lands of Christendom. If you think that’s a joke, and that it can’t happen in France, Italy or Britain, ask the Anatolians, the north Africans and the Albanians how that worked out for them.

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Quick, name the worst leader in western Europe. Yes, it’s a tough call: it’s either whoever the leader of Italy is this week, plus whichever socialist is temporarily in charge of France, plus the your-name-here chinless wonder domiciled at 10 Downing Street in London. But surely the prize goes to Frau Kartoffel herself, German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel, who’s been in office since 2005 and, alas, shows no signs of leaving any time soon.

On his visit this past week to Europe, President Trump spoke some hard truths to our European allies, but none spat it out more quickly than Merkel, to the absolute delight of the Trump-hating New York Times. It is a cold day in hell when the Times speaks fondly of any German, but here it is:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, has apparently concluded that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with European leaders’ inability to persuade Mr. Trump to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Mrs. Merkel said on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as reliable as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

To which let me add: it’s about time. I’ve spent a good deal of my life in Germany, speak the language, and raised my children there; my most recent book, the best-selling The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, concerns not only the Frankfurt School of Marxist philosophers and the cultural havoc they wrought in America, but the musical and literary cornerstones of German culture itself, including Goethe and Wagner.

If it took Trump’s typical bluntness to finally get the message across that the Europeans are now responsible for the mess of their own making, good. Germany in particular has coasted under the American nuclear umbrella for decades, allowing it to a) concentrate entirely on rebuilding its domestic economy, infrastructure and social welfare state and b) thumb its nose at American warmongering imperialism. It’s one of the least attractive aspects of the German character; the gratitude that the immediate postwar generation felt for our having rescued them from Hitler and the love Germans felt for all things American have vanished. In their place has come a churlish, we-can-take-it-from-here mutter that does not become them.

Formerly known as Christendom (Wikipedia)

What the president understands, and the Europeans pretend not to, is that Russia is no longer the direct menace it was during the days of the Fulda Gap, and that the real menace to Europe and NATO (which, by the way, includes the Islamicizing state of Turkey) is Islam, and its ongoing invasion of the historic lands of Christendom. If you think that’s a joke, and that it can’t happen in France, Italy or Britain, ask the Anatolians, the north Africans and the Albanians how that worked out for them.

Speaking on the campaign trail after contentious summit meetings in Belgium and Italy, Ms. Merkel said: “The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over. This is what I experienced in the last few days,” she said.

Given this new context for international relations, she said, “that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia.”

Welcome back to the 19th century! As the gorilla in the middle, Germany has always been forced to deal with the West (in the form of France and French culture) and the East (Russia); the result was two world wars and the deaths of millions. The European Union was essentially a response to the lingering question of how to prevent the great ape from escaping its cage and having dinner in Paris a month or so later. Worse for Merkel, although born in Hamburg, she grew up on the wrong side of the East-West German border and so was raised in a state that was at once a communist dictatorship and a swaddling socialist experiment, one which beat the sense of personal striving out of the people and replaced it with a dull conformity.

That dullness is now embodied by Merkel, a dull, uninspiring leader with no vision for the future and, childless, with no personal stake in it. Somewhere in hell, Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker are having a good laugh about their perfect revenge on the capitalist West. Sure, it took their own destruction to pull it off, but what could be more German than that?

Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions

May 16, 2017

Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions, Washington Free Beacon, May 16, 2017

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14, 2017.
(Photo credit should read THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington, D.C., for the first time on Tuesday, one week after the White House announced plans to arm Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State despite fierce opposition from Ankara.

The meeting comes amid strained relations between the two NATO allies. Erdogan is expected to call on the Trump administration to reduce cooperation with the Kurdish YPG and renew demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric whom the Turkish president accuses of masterminding last year’s failed coup.

The prominent Turkish newspaper Sözcü in an op-ed published Sunday urged Erdogan to evict U.S. troops from the strategic Incirlik Air Base, located 60 miles from the Syrian border in southern Turkey. American forces have used the base to launch airstrikes against ISIS since 2015.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, predicted Erdogan will threaten to deny the United States access to Incirlik in an attempt to pressure Trump to scale back the American partnership with the YPG. He said Erdogan may also pivot toward closer cooperation with Russia in Syria.

“Erdogan will be shooting himself in the foot if he does either because it would just push the U.S. into the arms of the Syrian Kurds,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. “I don’t think we have anything to lose in this meeting. In this visit, all eyes will be on Erdogan.”

Discussions between the two leaders will center on how to “deepen our cooperation to confront terrorism in all its forms,” the White House said in a statement announcing the meeting.

Turkish government officials bristled last week at the Trump administration’s decision to distribute weapons and ammunition to Kurdish YPG fighters to assist in the operation to retake Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and Europe. Erdogan accused the Trump administration on Wednesday of siding with “terrorist organizations” and urged the White House to reverse the decision.

Rubin said a reversal is unlikely.

“If we were to give into Turkey by either halting our arming of the Syrian Kurds or extraditing Gulen it would cost the United States very deeply—it would be worse than [former president] Obama’s ‘red line,'” he said. “If you look at the balance sheet of what Turkey gets us, the balance is not in favor of Turkey.”

U.S. military officials have contended the YPG is the only force on the ground capable of forcing ISIS out of Raqqa in the near future. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters last week that providing arms to the Kurds will “accelerate” the offensive on Raqqa, where the U.S. military estimates about 4,000 ISIS fighters remain.

Though U.S.-Turkish relations may not be at risk in the short-term, Rubin predicted a “real crisis” with NATO should Erdogan seek closer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin given that the United States shares classified information with NATO partners.

Trump and Erdogan’s meeting comes ahead of the 2017 NATO summit in Brussels scheduled to begin at the end of the month.

US Marines in Syria to defend Kurds against Turkey

April 30, 2017

US Marines in Syria to defend Kurds against Turkey, DEBKAfile, April 30, 2017

Pentagon spokesman Army Capt. Jeff Davis said – President Donald Trump made a fateful choice:  In the face of Turkish President Tayyip Edrogan’s threats of all-out war on the Kurds, he decided to commit US military forces to keeping the Kurdish militia safe under the US military wing and fully focused on the main objective of defeating ISIS.

The potential of a rare military run-in between two members of NATO may now be in store for the US president. And pretty soon, there may be fireworks when he sits down opposite Erdogan at the NATO summit in Brussels on May 25.

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The US has sent a group of US Marines armed with eight-wheeled Stryker armored carriers to northern Syria as a buffer between Syrian Kurds and Turkish forces, after Turkish air strikes killed 20 members of the US-backed Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia, injured 18 and destroyed the local Kurdish command headquarters. Clashes broke out between Turkish and Kurdish forces after the air strikes.

The convoy of US armored vehicles took up positions at the village of Darbasiyah in the northeastern Hasakah province, a few hundred meters from the Turkey border.

It was the second time American armored troops had stepped in to separate Turkish and the Kurdish YPG militia that leads the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), to which the Americans assign a major role in the offensive to capture Raqqa from ISIS. On March 17, US Marines advanced towards the northern Syrian town of Manbij when the Turkish army was on the point of fighting the Kurdish militia for control of the town.

However, on April 24, the Turkish air force went into action against the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) base near Sinjar on Mount Karachok in Iraq, wiping out ammunition dumps and weapons store – but also against a YPG command center in northeastern Syria, claiming they were both hubs of a conjoined terrorist entity.

By its twin operation, Ankara emphasized that Turkey was very much present in the Syrian and Iraqi arenas and informed Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin that Turkey’s view of its national security interests in those arenas took precedence over helping to promote the two powers’ objectives.

The Pentagon responded Friday, April 28, that the US wants the SDF to focus on liberating the ISIS-held town of Tabqa and the ISIS capital of Raqqa “and not be drawn into conflicts elsewhere.”

The movements of Turkish jets in Syrian air space are routinely reported and coordinated in advance with Russian and American air force command centers in Syria. The YPG commanders therefore took note that neither the Russians nor the Americans chose to warn Turkey off its plans to hammer the US-aligned Kurdish militia. They feared this would happen when they threw in their lot with the American forces. But the US command in Syria promised them protection under an American ground and aerial umbrella.

After the Turkish attack, the Trump administration, seeing the Kurdish militia had one foot out of the door of the alliance versus ISIS, was forced to choose between losing the operation’s spearhead or spreading the American umbrella to avert more Turkish attacks.

By sending another contingent of marines over to Syria – “We have US forces that are there throughout the entire northern Syria that operate with our Syrian Democratic Force partners,” Pentagon spokesman Army Capt. Jeff Davis said – President Donald Trump made a fateful choice:  In the face of Turkish President Tayyip Edrogan’s threats of all-out war on the Kurds, he decided to commit US military forces to keeping the Kurdish militia safe under the US military wing and fully focused on the main objective of defeating ISIS.

The potential of a rare military run-in between two members of NATO may now be in store for the US president. And pretty soon, there may be fireworks when he sits down opposite Erdogan at the NATO summit in Brussels on May 25.