Turkey’s Turn toward Russia Could Threaten NATO

April 27 2017

Over the past few years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made efforts to improve relations with Russia; despite rocky moments, the two countries do indeed appear to be moving closer. Michael Rubin warns of the consequences:

Putin approaches diplomacy not as an exercise in finding win-win solutions but rather as a zero-sum game: a partnership with Turkey cannot be only about diplomacy but must have the effect of permanently separating it from the West. Here, Erdogan, who holds the West in disdain because of its support for Turkey’s old secularist order, plays his part. Even as Turkish and Western diplomats and military officials pay lip service to [shared commitments], Erdogan has fed Turks a steady stream of hatred and conspiracy theories directed at the West in general and at NATO in particular. . . . Russian political and conspiracy theorist Aleksandr Dugin appears more often in the Turkish press than does the U.S. ambassador.

The Turkish military tilt toward Russia has gone beyond the symbolic. As depicted by Turkish diplomats and Western reporters, the [ongoing] purge of Turkish military officers is directed against followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, but Turkish officers with significant service in NATO have been as great a target, if not greater. To have served in NATO commands is now seen by Turkish officers as a ticket to prison, not promotion. Earlier this month, Turkey and Russia held joint naval exercises. . . .

As Erdogan seizes the power to guide Turkey from the West and toward a broader partnership with Russia, the problem for the United States is not that Turkey could leave NATO but that it might not. NATO is run by consensus, and Turkey could act as a Trojan horse, paralyzing all decision-making and effectiveness. NATO has no mechanism to expel a member that drifts away from the alliance’s political or democratic norms. The danger goes farther, however. Turkey is a partner on the F-35 joint-strike fighter and seeks to purchase what the Pentagon sees as the next generation of its airpower. To send or sell any F-35s to Turkey now is to risk provision of cutting-edge military technology and codes to Russia and China.

Read more at National Review

More about: NATO, Politics & Current Affairs, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russia, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy


Why Cutting U.S. Funding for Palestinian “Refugees” Is the Right Move

Jan. 22 2018

Last week the Trump administration announced that it is withholding some of America’s annual contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization tasked with providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. To explain why this decision was correct, Elliott Abrams compares UNRWA with the agency run by the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), which provides humanitarian aid to refugees who are not Palestinian:

One of [UNHCR’s] core missions is “ending statelessness.” [By contrast, UNRWA’s] mission appears to be “never ending statelessness.” A phrase such as “ending statelessness” would be anathema and is found nowhere on its website. Since 1950, UNHCR has tried to place refugees in permanent new situations, while since 1950 UNRWA has with its staff of 30,000 “helped” over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to remain “refugees.” . . . UNRWA has three times as large a staff as UNHCR—but helps far fewer people than the 17 million refugees UNHCR tries to assist. . . .

The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA is not primarily financial. The United States is an enormously generous donor to UNHCR, providing just under 40 percent of its budget. I hope we maintain that level of funding. . . . The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA instead rests on two pillars. The first is that UNRWA’s activities repeatedly give rise to concern that it has too many connections to Hamas and to rejectionist ideology. . . .

But even if those flaws were corrected, this would not solve the second and more fundamental problem with UNRWA—which is that it will perpetuate the Palestinian “refugee” problem forever rather than helping to solve it. . . . [T]hat the sole group of refugees whom the UN keeps enlarging is Palestinian, and that the only way to remedy this under UN definitions would be to eliminate the state of Israel or have 5 million Palestinian “refugees” move there should simply be unacceptable. . . .

Perpetuating and enlarging the Palestinian “refugee” crisis has harmed Israel and it has certainly harmed Palestinians. Keeping their grievances alive may have served anti-Israel political ends, but it has brought peace no closer and it has helped prevent generations of Palestinians from leading normal lives. That archipelago of displaced-persons and refugee camps that once dotted Europe [in the aftermath of World War II] is long gone now, and the descendants of those who tragically lived in those camps now lead productive and fruitful lives in many countries. One can only wish such a fate for Palestinian refugee camps and for Palestinians. More money for UNRWA won’t solve anything.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA