WASHINGTON (Realist English). The refusal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to support the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO suggests that Turkey has become more of a liability to the security of the West than an asset, said Michael Rubin, senior researcher at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who previously worked at the Pentagon.
“Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Greece, and Cyprus all grapple with Turkish aggression. Turkey victimizes religious minorities at home and abroad. Ethnic cleansing continues. Despite it all, Western appeasement of Turkey also continues.
There are several reasons for this. Some diplomats believe in a Turkey that once was, rather than what Turkey today has become. Others believe punitive policies could allow Erdogan to play the nationalist card to bolster his reelection prospects. This is ignorant, however, because it presumes that someone as power-hungry as Erdogan would accept an unfavorable outcome at the ballot box. Still others are simply corrupt and hope to attach themselves to the Turkish gravy train,” he stressed.
The AEI expert noted that appeasement of Turkey is not new. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger normalized it almost a half-century ago when he secretly backed Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus.
“There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus,” Kissinger counseled President Gerald Ford, who had assumed the presidency just days before the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
“The Turkish tactics are right — grab what they want and then negotiate on the basis of possession,” he added. Kissinger privately greenlighted the land grab in conversations with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.
According to the American analyst, today the problem lies not only in Erdogan, but also in the fact that Kissinger’s actions gave the Turkish establishment a signal that aggression is working:
“No matter what their provocation, Turkish leaders now believe that Washington will defer to their size and throw any smaller country under the bus.”.. Thus, not only does the northern part of Cyprus therefore remain Europe’s last occupied territory, but Erdogan now believes force might win him possession of Greece’s Aegean Islands.”
Rubin is convinced that Kissinger was wrong, and now “it will take crippling sanctions on Turkey, an end to the Cyprus military embargo, and further U.S. deployments in the Eastern Mediterranean” will be required to right historic wrongs and deter new conflict:
“In the meantime, Kissinger should apologize to Greece and Cyprus. There would be no better way to signal to Turkey that its age of imperialism is over.”