It really is amazing how committed Washington, DC can be to utterly fantastical narratives. If Turkey experiences real consequences for turning on the S-400 missile system it has purchased from Russia, it will be because of the damage this choice has done to US defense contractors who feel left out. But that won’t be the story that US congresspeople use to explain the collapse of the 70 year old relationship with Turkey. No, they’ll blame it on Turkey’s choosing to side with Russia.
DC has been trying to sell this idea for years. Despite the fact that Turkey shot down a Russian jet in 2015. Despite the fact that Russia and Turkey are involved in the most serious cold war between great powers that Western Eurasia has seen since the 1980s. Today’s video lays out how Russia and Turkey are now facing off against each other in not one but three separate regions. Today’s video also explains the real reason Turkey could be about to fall out of NATO.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there, over the past few weeks there has been a growing sense that the US Turkey relationship might finally be falling apart. The interesting question Is why now?
Is it because of a decade of growing authoritarianism from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Is it because of pressure from powerful Greek, Armenian, and Israeli diasporas in the US that are offended by Turkey’s actions?
Nope, none of that. The 70 year old relationship with Turkey is falling apart because Turkey bought a missile system from Russia. This oddity is making people a little uncomfortable. It’s making it a little too clear what US defence policy is really about. Turkey’s treatment in Washington, DC is exposing the lie at the heart of NATO.
We tell ourselves that NATO is about defending Europe from Russia. That’s what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created to do, after all, back when Russia was in the infinitely more threatening form of the Soviet Union. Even though multiple former Soviet republics are now NATO members, we still tell ourselves that Russia is the aggressive one, and the amount of money and effort we invest in European Defense is about keeping Eurasia safe from Russia and Russian interests. The idea that Russian power is surging, and we must do more to confront their nefarious plans is today more central to US domestic politics than it has been at any point since the 1980s.
Now If any of that were true, then Turkey would currently be celebrated as the greatest alliance investment we have ever made. For the first time since the Korean war, Turkey is investing serious amounts of blood and treasure in confronting Russia… in not one but 3 separate theaters!
In Syria, Turkey has spent almost a decade helping us try to overthrow Assad. Since 2016 it has been putting its troops in harm’s way, facing off directly against Russia and its proxies. In the Spring of 2019, a Russian supported strong man was rolling across Libya to crush the US supported and internationally recognized Libyan government. Until Turkey stopped it! This month Turkey is humiliating Russia, by helping Azerbaijan attack Armenian interests. What is happening to Armenia right now is tragic, but it is also revealing how little it’s membership in Russia’s Collective Security Treaty Organization actually matters.
What we are seeing here is a serious new cold war between Russia and Turkey, and its entirely to our advantage. If the US was actually interested in saving money on national defense, this would be recognized as an incredible gift. I believe the technical term for what is happening here is “offshore-balancing”.
Harvard professor Stephen Walt wrote a nice short book about it, and how it’s the obvious, sensible future of US policy. Let regional powers struggle, and the US can step back and focus our limited resources elsewhere.
But Washington, DC is not interested in saving money on national defense. The congresspeople who do the defense industry’s bidding want US troops in more places not fewer. We ARE interested in selling weapons. NATO is for selling weapons. That’s what Trump, Obama and Bush were talking about when they asked NATO allies to do more. Presidents want NATO allies to spend more money on weapons, not actually do any fighting for us.
So in Syria we are constantly inventing reasons to keep our troops there, even though Turkey is even more opposed to Russian and Iranian influence than we are. With Libya, the few American policymakers who can find the country on a map are pissed because that Strongman wasn’t just Russia’s, he was also supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, US allies who buy a lot of weapons. And despite constant fear mongering about Russian influence, I doubt much of Washington DC even knows that the Russian CSTO getting humiliated in Nagorno-Karabakh right now even exists. No, what really matters to Washington, DC is the fact that Turkey dared to purchase the Russian S-400 missile system, which might make it hard to purchase all the other absurdly expensive toys that Washington DC sells.
The fact that our alliance with Turkey is falling apart over some missiles, just as Turkey is massively over-acheiving in pursuit of the US alliance system’s official goal of confronting Russia is a massive reality check. It exposes the central lie at the heart of NATO, and all of US foreign policy. This stuff is not about security. It’s about selling weapons.
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