Obama Foreign Policy in a Brief: The President as Turkey
On October 5, 1938, Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons, regarding the Munich agreement in which Britain and France forced Czechoslovakia to cede the strategic Sudetenland to Germany, leading a few months later to that country's extinction and a year later to World War Two:
"I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat...."
Viscountess Astor shouted, "Nonsense!"
People ask me: How can U.S. government officials believe such silly and wrong things about the Middle East? Let’s go behind the scenes for a case study of how this works.
Here’s a November 28 transcript about Vice-President Joe Biden’s trip to Turkey and Greece. The main briefers are Biden’s national security advisor, Antony Blinken, and Special Envoy to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation Rashad Hussain.
The briefing shows the U.S. government’s bizarre love affair for Turkey’s Islamist regime, cluelessness about the “Arab Spring,” and disinterest in supporting Israel, contradicting the president's frequent statements that he has done more for Israel than any predecessor.
For years the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been waging war seeking to create a Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey. Apparently, the United States is getting increasingly involved in that war defined as, “Our assistance in the fight against PKK terrorism.” The U.S. government gave Turkey three SuperCobra attack helicopters and four Predator UAVs. Since that regime works closely with terrorist groups and Iran, one wonders how secure this technology will be and how far U.S. involvement is going to go.
Has there been a serious discussion in the United States about becoming a partner in the Turkey-PKK war and what might Turkey be doing in exchange for U.S. help? This concept of getting something for giving something is pretty absent in the Obama administration.
True, the Turkish regime has agreed to host a NATO radar system but only after grumbling a lot and imposing stringent conditions, especially that no intelligence be shared with Israel. And that’s no favor to the United States since, as the briefers note, Turkey is supposed to be a zealous member of NATO.
What else do you have, Blinken? Well, that Turkish government is visibly helping out a lot: in Afghanistan, Iraq, against the Syrian regime, in Libya, and Egypt. “So in many, many areas we’re working very, very closely with Turkey.”
Yes, but the problem is that the Turkish regime is working hard in those places to make itself leader of the region and to promote radical Islamism in all of those countries. In Egypt, Libya, and Syria for sure that means helping the Muslim Brotherhood, not to mention its work on behalf of Hamas and Hizballah.
Imagine if an American president in the 1970s had been besotted with Fidel Castro and explained how the Cubans were doing all that great work in Latin America.
Then the briefer throws out a cliché that means the exact opposite of what he thinks:
Turkey has a very important story to tell as a country that can…set an example for other countries that are making transitions in the Arab world, in the Islamic world, in North Africa.
But what is that example? The Turkish example used to be secularism, democracy, a lack of ambition abroad, a free enterprise economy, and a strong pro-Western orientation. That was the previous regime. The current regime likes Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey “has set an example” all right. An example of how radical Islamist forces can pretend to be moderate as they not only gain state power but do so with America’s blessing. It is a very terrible example.