Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Another Problem Child

I've certainly noted many times that Pakistan is a problematic ally, hopes for a virtuous cycle to break that attitude notwithstanding. But I also note that if Iran was as good a friend as Pakistan is we'd call our Iran policy actual Smart Diplomacy. Turkey had joined the ranks of problem children. Work the problem rather than push Turkey into Russia's orbit.

I don't like this given Turkey's behavior the last 15 years or so as it has tilted Islamist:

Turkey has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to acquire Russia’s most advanced missile defense system, a senior Turkish official said, in a deal that signals a turn away from the NATO military alliance that has anchored Turkey to the West for more than six decades.

The preliminary agreement sees Turkey receiving two S-400 missile batteries from Russia within the next year, and then producing another two inside Turkey, according to the Turkish official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Erdogan is no friend, to be sure:

In the latest display of Turkish anger at U.S. policy in Syria, the state news agency has divulged the locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria where the U.S. is leading an operation to destroy the so-called Islamic State in its self-styled capital of Raqqa.

If Turkey was a solid friend, I'd see this arms deal with Russia as potentially a way to get deep insights into the S-400 system.

But that's not the situation. Now I worry that Russia will have the edge in information gains by getting insights into how NATO air defense systems and procedures work.

I noted (in this weekend data dump) a suggestion based on other issues that Turkey be denied the F-35.

I'd rather not do that and simply push Turkey away from NATO. I'd rather have an imperfect ally than an imperfect foe that is now an imperfect asset of a foe.

With Russia's efforts to establish a military presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (to extend a buffer south and west of the Black Sea, supported by the Crimean base area), a friendly Turkey that can choke Russia's sea line of communication from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean is obviously a big deal.

So I don't want to push Turkey away despite Turkey's inadequacies as a treaty ally. Enforce that standard too hard and how many allies will we still have?

But I do hope that we are selling Turkey a monkey model of the F-35 that lacks the best technology that I don't want a shaky Turkey sharing with their new friends the Russians.

Although it would be kind of funny if Turkey is getting an inferior version of the S-400.

UPDATE: Good question:

“As a program partner, Turkish industries are eligible to become suppliers to the global F-35 fleet for the life of the program. In total, F-35 industrial opportunities for Turkish companies are expected to reach $12 billion,” the warplane’s website explained. “Turkey plans to purchase 100 of the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing variant. Its unsurpassed technological systems and unique stealth capabilities ensure that the F-35 will be the future of Turkish national security for decades to come.”

But is the F-35 safe with Turkey?

I wouldn't trust the Turks to service my F-35s. I hope Turkish industrial participation involves making the cup holder.

In unrelated problem child news:

The United States will withhold $50 million remaining in military reimbursements to Pakistan for fiscal year 2016 because Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believes that Islamabad has not done enough to blunt the Islamist militant Haqqani network, a U.S. official said on Friday.

Pakistan: Not as bad as an enemy; not as good as an ally.