Since becoming Turkey’s prime minister in 2003, now-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has systematically undermined his country’s alliance with the Jewish state and moved in an increasingly Islamist and anti-American direction. Philip Terzian argues that the country is unlikely to revert to its former position.
[W]hile Erdogan exercises considerably more arbitrary personal power than Emmanuel Macron or Donald Trump, he may aptly be described as a product of Turkish democracy, which of course renders Turkey’s evolution more disturbing. It would be comforting to believe that Erdogan’s thuggish autocracy and reflexive anti-Americanism—not to mention anti-Semitism—were reflections of a single, expendable politician. But they are not. . . . [I]f public opinion polls are to be believed, the United States is not just unpopular in Turkey but overwhelmingly reviled, an attitude that long antedates the advent of President Trump. . . .
Erdogan’s statecraft and Turkey’s behavior generate predictions that would have been unthinkable—very nearly unmentionable—a decade ago. In particular, Turkey’s continued membership in NATO is an open question. . . . Turkish policies facilitated the growth and nourishment of Islamic State, allowing its fighters to pass through Turkey with impunity. And Turkey’s ongoing war against its Kurdish minority has not just hampered America’s war on terror—preventing access to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq via Turkey’s border during the Iraq war—but has brought it close to open conflict with U.S. forces in northern Syria. . . .
[Even worse], Erdogan has now turned his attention toward Moscow, where he seeks to purchase Russian missiles for Turkey’s air defenses. Inasmuch as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in 1949 as a Western bulwark against Soviet expansion, the notion of a NATO member in 2018 integrating its defenses with Moscow’s must necessarily concentrate minds in Brussels. And in Washington, too.