NATO ought not exist at all, and if it must exist, surely Turkey’s Islamist government — friend of Iran, financial backer of the Hamas terrorist organization, facilitator of operations against Israel — has no business being in it. Now, Turkey appears poised to exploit its NATO membership to force the Western intervention in Syria that the Muslim Brotherhood and allied Islamists have been calling for.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Sunni Islamic supremacist with longstanding ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Sunni supremacist organization. The Brotherhood is leading the mujahideen (called the “opposition” or the “rebels” by the mainstream media) that seeks to oust the Assad regime in Syria — dominated by the Alawites, a minority Shiite sect. Unsurprisingly, then, Turkey’s government has taken a very active role in abetting the Brotherhood’s operations against the Syrian regime, which have also been joined by al-Qaeda and other Sunni militants.
On Friday, a Turkish air force jet entered Syrian air space, and Assad regime forces shot it down. Turkey claims the jet “mistakenly” cruised over Syria, and that, by the time it was taken down, it was in international air space over the Mediterranean. One need carry no brief for Assad to conclude that, given the interventionist drum–beat for no-fly zones and direct military and logistical aid to the “opposition,” Syria rationally took the presence of a Turkish military aircraft in its air space as a provocation. Turkey insists it was not “spying” — that this was just an accident to which Syria overreacted. That would be a good argument if the regime were not under siege and if the Syrian and Turkish governments had not been exchanging hostile words (mostly, threats from Erdogan) for months. That, of course, is not the case.
The Obama administration, from its first days, has cozied up to the Muslim Brotherhood — both Brotherhood branches in the Middle East, and Brotherhood satellite organizations in the U.S., such as CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America. Obama has also been quietly supporting the Syrian mujahideen: coordinating with repressive Islamist governments in Turkey and Saudi Arabia to arm and train them, and reportedly dispatching the CIA to facilitate this effort. But it has thus far resisted calls for more overt participation — calls by pro-Brotherhood progressives in both parties for something along the lines of what Obama did in Libya, meaning: without congressional approval and toward the end of empowering virulently anti-Western Islamists.
There is no U.S. national security interest in Syrian intervention: both the savage regime of Assad (whom the Obama administration saw as a “reformer” until about five minutes ago) and the Syrian mujahideen’s Sunni supremacists are enemies of the West and of our ally, Israel. It is in our interests that both be weakened, which is best achieved by butting out while they slug it out between themselves. Since there is no good outcome for us, it makes no sense to jump in on the side of one set of America’s enemies, making them stronger.
Still, there is little doubt that Obama — who regards Erdogan as his best friend and strategic partner in the region — is inclined to jump in on the Brotherhood’s side. He would have done so already if the November election were not looming. In light, however, of the democracy-promotion debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which have forged the creation of sharia regimes that persecute religious minorities and reject Western democracy, Americans are not buying democracy-promotion as a rationale for being dragged into yet more internecine Islamic conflict.
Nor are Americans convinced by the interventionists’ best argument: Syria is the cat’s paw of Iran, our implacable enemy, and therefore Assad’s overthrow, which would be a bitter pill for the mullahs, is a compelling U.S. interest. Yes, Iran is a huge problem, but we should then deal with Iran directly — not in a proxy war that elevates the Muslim Brotherhood, whose ascendancy in neighboring Egypt is already destabilizing the Sinai and profoundly threatening Israel. Consequently, if Syrian intervention is to be sold to the public — I won’t say “sold to Congress,” because Obama and the interventionists are unconcerned about such trivial constitutional details — the administration will have to come up with another excuse.
Could that excuse be the NATO charter’s Article 4? That is the provision that calls on NATO member countries to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.” Turkey’s Islamist foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has announced that Turkey is calling for an emergency consultation of NATO members under Article 4 to consider a response to what it deems Syrian aggression. Look for this to be the fig-leaf the Obama administration and the Republican Party’s transnational-progressive wing (under the leadership of John McCain — and, unfortunately, exercising obvious influence over Mitt Romney) uses to step up calls for overt U.S. intervention against Assad. And look for them to bypass Congress, just as they did in the case of Libya.
The animating principle of NATO is that an attack on one member is an attack on all. That made sense in the context of NATO’s raison d’etre — the existential Soviet threat. With the Soviets defeated and NATO’s mission accomplished, this principle makes no sense today — nor does NATO, for that matter. There is no defining, unifying mission. Today, NATO members are culturally fragmenting: Islamist Turkey is a repressive state that jails political opponents and journalists, promotes sharia creep, and labors to weaken its military, which was Ataturk’s bulwark against an Islamist reversal of secular democracy. Furthermore, NATO members pursue antithetical foreign policies: Turkey’s embrace of Hamas and support for Iran’s nuclear program are the two best examples, but they are not the only ones.
We should be unwinding NATO. Our national defense would be far better served by focusing on our own vital interests and, when it makes sense, forming “coalitions of the willing” to pursue them. Of course, NATO is a government program — indeed, a military bureaucracy on an inflated international scale. Such programs always sprawl, living on long after their useful purpose has been served and long after their continuation is patently unsustainable for economic and political reasons. Still, even if shedding NATO is politically unattainable at the moment, we should not permit its Islamist component to drag us, yet again, into the Middle East’s Muslim morass — where we have no friends and can only make our enemies stronger.