Monday, March 11, 2019

We Have an Erdogan Crisis and Not an S-400 Crisis

Turkey under Caliph Erdogan has stopped being a NATO ally despite being a member of NATO. The Russian S-400 air defense system purchase by Turkey is just an identifiable symptom.

Perhaps I'm wrong not to worry about Qatar's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense missile because Qatar is not, like Turkey, integrated into NATO and a buyer of F-35s. If the S-400 only lets Russia get an insight into Qatar's defense network, that isn't nearly as critical as preventing Russia from getting an inside view of NATO's air defenses and the capabilities of the F-35.

And while Turkey is increasingly hostile to America and NATO under Erdogan, Qatar still seems solid as a friend despite troubling outreaches to Iran. Am I wrong?

Still, there is no way Turkey should get the F-35. Our EUCOM commander thinks that Turkey should not get the F-35 if it buys the S-400. I don't think Turkey should get the plane even if it doesn't buy the S-400--unless we send Turkey stripped down "monkey versions" that are not networked and don't even have the best stealth features, sensors, and weapons. 

As I've said before on TDR, we should wall off Turkey from NATO information to protect NATO from Erdogan, while not expelling Turkey in the hope that Turkish friends of the West will one day regain dominance.

Walling off Turkey would cut off intelligence and decision-making participation, getting American nuclear warheads out of Turkey (please God, we've done that already, right?), and finding an alternative to our Incirlik air base in Turkey.

Turkey is not the victim in this drama:

Retired Turkish diplomat Uluc Ozulker said Turkey now finds itself backed into a corner.

"The United States on the one hand, Russia on the other... We are stuck between the two," he said. "Turkey cannot exit this crisis."

Turkey created the NATO crisis by electing Erdogan. Erdogan has put itself between America and Russia despite being a NATO ally, which should have settled that question before the crisis started.

And most importantly, we need to deny Turkey the F-35 despite their purchase of the plane and their place in the sustainment and production networks because Turkey can't be trusted with the advanced plane. And honestly, that applies even if Turkey does not buy the S-400 which is merely the most obvious way Turkey is failing to be an ally.

Maybe the form of the "monkey" plane we could offer Turkey is the F-21, spun as an "interim" plane based on some barely plausible reason as a face-saving measure for Turkey before we can judge the impact of the S-400. That might not do any good, but that might be worth the risk to buy some time to try to keep Turkey from going fully rogue on us while Erdogan is in charge.

UPDATE: Ultimatum (tip to Instapundit)?

Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers said Friday morning that there will be "grave consequences" if Turkey moves forward in purchasing Russia's S-400, according to Bloomberg — this after the top US commander in Europe, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, recommended to Congress this week that delivery to Turkey of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter should ultimately be cancelled, nothing that the S-400 remains “a problem to all of our aircraft, but specifically the F-35.”

Honestly, I'm worried Erdogan will back down and buy the Patriot instead of S-400. We should not trust Erdogan with the F-35 even if Turkey rejects the S-400.