Monday, September 02, 2019

What Do You Do With a Problem Like Erdogan?

Quite honestly, I'm a little shocked we dropped the hammer over Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system rather than pretend we found a safe way to sell Erdogan's Turkey the F-35:

The desire to ensure technological reliability and, ultimately, combat superiority, guided the Trump administration's mid-July decision to terminate U.S. plans to sell the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey.

This was the right decision and the threat to our technology is real. But since we really have an Erdogan problem and not an S-400 problem, I worried that framing the issue as an F-35/S-400 problem would give Erdogan room to pretend to resolve the Erdogan problem:

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.

But luckily Erdogan didn't do that. And as I wrote in that post:

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.
We need to cauterize and not amputate Turkey from NATO.

And hope that a break in our relationship will eventually provide room to heal it post Erdogan.

After all, long-time enemy Russia isn't quite the magical option Erdogan thought it would be.

UPDATE: Seriously, Erdogan effed up pretty badly trusting Putin to make Turkey pushing America away a good idea.