Time to trade Turkey for Russia in NATO

When Turkey joined NATO in February 1952, there seemed to be a purpose to the expansion into traditionally Islamic territory.  Proponents of Turkey's membership argued that the West needed this country as an ally to prevent Soviet expansion in the region.  But this was a deal with the devil.

Fears of Soviet aggression may have been understandable at the time, but never to the extent that rationalized allowing Turkey into NATO.  Other routes existed for NATO to thwart perceived Soviet ambitions throughout this area, including temporary military and economic support for Turkey and the further strengthening of conventional and nuclear forces in Western Europe.  The spastic response in Turkey's NATO membership was short-sighted and unforgivable, and it will ultimately lead to more problems for the West than it was intended to solve.

Over the years, Turkey has been the problem child in NATO.  The Turkish invasion of Cyprus during 1974 caused a rift in the alliance, leading Greece to withdraw its forces from NATO's command structure until 1980.  In 2012, Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet after it apparently – and very deliberately – strayed into Syrian airspace.  Later that same year, Turkey fired artillery at government targets in Syria as a response to claimed Syrian artillery hits in Turkey.

An optimist may say that Turkey resides in a geopolitically challenging part of the world, that trouble is bound to follow, and that Turkey is just the innocent victim of its less than desirable neighborhood.  A more cynical realist would likely view the series of issues over the decades as part of Turkey's objective to simply leverage its NATO membership to achieve its own political goals – which generally do not coincide with NATO's interests.

Perhaps NATO's naivety towards Turkey was forgivable in the 20th century, but since Turkey began to clearly signal its devotion to Islamism in the early 2000s, the writing has been on the wall.  Given Turkey's long and complex history, the Islamist writing has always been on the wall for those who wanted to take the rose-colored glasses off and see it.

The Islamists are – and always have been – far more of a civilizational threat to the West than the Soviets were.  The West got played by the Islamists.  We were their useful idiots throughout the Cold War and in the quarter-century that followed.  It is time to right the trajectory and ally with Russia against the Islamists, and that includes the effectively Islamic State of Turkey.

Putin's Russia has been beating the drum against the Islamic threat for years.  The West has failed to listen.  French president François Hollande has now asked the U.S. to set aside its differences with Russia in order to "fight this terrorist army [the Islamic State] in a broad, single coalition."  As Putin correctly noted, Turkey is already allied with ISIS via its support for the Islamic State's oil sales.  Pakistan also plays this type of duplicitous game with the West, pretending to be its friend while stabbing it in the back.  At least Pakistan wasn't admitted to NATO – although with the dearth of coherent leadership in the West, perhaps we should add "yet."

Much has changed over the past two years.  Old adversaries need to be re-evaluated, as do old "allies" – which were never likely allies to begin with.  Many admire Putin in the West, and for good reason.  His geo-strategic vision is clear, his strength is palpable, and the success he has had in rebuilding Russia's economy, society, and military is evident for all who assess it objectively.

The time has come: Turkey should be removed from NATO, and Russia should be invited to join.  The common causes the West has with Russia greatly outnumber those it has with the Islamic world.

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