Don't Realize NATO Can't Lose Turkey
During the Oct. 15 debate among Democratic presidential
candidates, neither they nor the liberal mainstream
media showed any awareness of a massive Russian nuclear
forces exercise then ongoing, rehearsing World War III.
Instead, liberal media interlocutors and Democratic
candidates all focused on bashing President Trump for
withdrawing 1,000 U.S. troops from Syria and allegedly
"abandoning the Kurds."
Never mind that the tiny U.S. contingent in Syria was
surrounded by much larger hostile forces, hundreds of
thousands of Russian, Syrian, Iranian, and terrorist
fighters who would love to give the U.S. a bloody nose.
It was a massacre waiting to happen.
Never mind that the Kurds are not U.S. allies by treaty,
as is Turkey, a NATO member
Never mind that the U.S. rescued the Kurds by defeating
ISIS, not vice versa, and that the destruction of the
ISIS "Caliphate" is mission accomplished. Now that the
common cause against ISIS is over, should the U.S.
continue supporting Kurdish separatists and PKK
terrorists against Turkey, a NATO ally?
Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and most other Democratic
presidential candidates threatened to kick Turkey out of
NATO, even while paying lip service to the importance of
Do they even know that, after the United States, Turkey
is by far militarily the strongest NATO member state?
Turkey has more tanks, aircraft, and troops than any
nation in European NATO.
Turkey is the only NATO member in the Mideast and for
decades has been a “rock of Gibraltar” for U.S. and NATO
policy in that very dangerous and vitally important
neighborhood. Indeed, Turkey was such a trustworthy
member of NATO that the U.S. has tactical nuclear
weapons stored on their territory, at Incirlik AFB.
Unfortunately, under the leadership of Islamist
President Recep Erdogan, Turkey has been drifting away
from NATO and the U.S. and toward Russia. The situation
is becoming so bad, the U.S. may withdraw its tactical
nuclear weapons (50 B-61 gravity bombs) from Turkey—and
Three years ago (Aug. 2, 2016), I recommended in Newsmax
that the U.S. withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from
Nonetheless, breaking with Turkey will be a tremendous
blow to NATO, and could even begin unraveling the larger
Compared to these stakes, the Kurds are trivial.
The U.S. should make every effort to reconcile with
Turkey, accommodate Turkey’s legitimate security
interests on the chaotic Syrian borders, and keep Turkey
Judging from their debate on October 15, the only threat
from Russia that Democrats and the liberal media see is
alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections. (Democrats
are unconcerned by massive election fraud threatened,
and almost certainly already committed, by millions of
illegal aliens penetrating the unprotected U.S. southern
However, oblivious though Democrats and the liberal
media may be to the Russian nuclear threat, Moscow’s
nuclear muscle was on full display during the Democratic
presidential debates on October 15.
While Democrats quibbled over the Kurds and bemoaned
Trump’s withdrawal from Obama’s Iran nuclear deal (which
by enriching Iran, facilitated terror attacks on Israel
and the Kurds) — Russia launched on October 15-17 their
massive nuclear wargame THUNDER-2019.
According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major
General Yevgeny Ilyin, THUNDER-2019:
Mobilizes 213 strategic missile launchers, 105 aircraft,
5 submarines, 15 surface ships, and 12,000 troops to
simulate a nuclear war.
16 missiles will be launched, including ICBMs, SLBMs,
and cruise missiles, practicing nuclear strikes."Seaborn
cruise missiles will be test-fired at the naval ranges
in the Barents, Baltic, Black, Caspian and Okhotsk
Bombers will launch cruise missiles in the “Western,
Southern, Central Military Districts, and Northern
Fleet” at four aviation firing ranges.
THUNDER-2019 involves the whole of Russia’s nuclear
forces, and all of the military districts and geographic
regions of Russia.
Russian Maj. Gen. Ilyn claims, absurdly, "The drills are
solely of defensive nature."
This claim is belied by the fact that the offensive
nuclear missile systems being utilized are designed to
strike the United States and European NATO.
Moreover, "The drills’ scenario envisages that the
situation escalates along the perimeter of the Russian
border . . . " In other words, Moscow is warning NATO to
tread carefully, as something could happen that would
trigger massive Russian nuclear strikes against NATO
Europe and the United States.
One wonders, and Major General Ilyn leaves carefully
undefined, exactly what border "provocation" by NATO
might move Russia to launch an all-out nuclear war?
Is it a coincidence that THUNDER-2019 is happening
exactly when the U.S. and Turkey are at odds, and NATO
is experiencing perhaps the most serious internal crisis
in its history?
Is THUNDER-2019 intended to impress Turkey with Russia’s
nuclear power and resolve, in contrast to the
increasingly troublesome relationship with the United
States, and to lure Turkey away from NATO, into Russia’s
Destroying NATO is one of Russia’s major foreign policy
objectives. We do need to tread carefully at this
moment, and not help Moscow destroy NATO by driving
Turkey into their arms.
Alas, not one of the Democratic presidential candidates
seemed aware of the Russian nuclear threat or the risk
to NATO of losing Turkey. None are competent to be
SUPPORTS PRESIDENT TRUMP’S POLICY IN SYRIA
American Empire or America First?
The Trump Doctrine
Since biblical times, the Middle East has been the
crossroads of history for empires. Now what might be
called the “Trump Doctrine” or “America First
Doctrine”—that entails recalling U.S. troops from an
overextended military empire in over 150 nations—is at
risk in Syria.
President Trump and the majority of Americans who
support his foreign policy are not isolationists but
realists. Realists understand U.S. military and
economic power cannot sustain “forever wars”; would rely
more heavily on allies to carry the burden of global
security, fight local conflicts, and do peacekeeping;
and instead of giving highest priority to the Global War
on Terrorism would rebuild and conserve U.S. strength to
deter Russia and China from starting World War III.
However, Washington’s bipartisan foreign policy
establishment vociferously opposes withdrawing merely
1,000 troops from Syria. They would block the road
toward President Trump’s more realistic foreign policy.
Ironically, many who still criticize President Trump for
“abandoning the Kurds”, falsely accuse him of
“isolationism”, and fancy themselves intellectually
superior “internationalists”, appear to have forgotten
that Turkey is a vitally important NATO ally, with
legitimate security interests on its chaotic border with
President Trump understands that the dangerous
complexities of the Syrian quagmire are in microcosm why
most Americans want to “bring the boys home” and shift
more of the burden of being “global policeman” to U.S.
allies, like Turkey
Expel Turkey from NATO?
Some Washington “experts” would even kick Turkey out of
NATO for aggression against the Kurds, and make the
latter America’s new Mideast ally. Such wrongheaded
statesmanship proves Washington elites are incompetent
to serve as global policeman, let alone run a world
Turkey is vital to NATO and far more important to U.S.
national security interests than the Kurds.
Decades ago, Samuel Huntington in “The Clash of
Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” (1996)
warned that Turkey would eventually go Islamist and
leave NATO. Turkey’s President Erdogan is an Islamist
strongman who has been pulling away from NATO and
leaning toward Russia.
Turkey’s departure from NATO may be historically
inevitable—but it is extremely irresponsible for
Washington elites to accelerate a process that could
begin the unraveling of NATO. Turkey is not the only
discontented NATO member.
President Trump is right to try accommodating Turkey’s
legitimate security interests on the Syrian border,
while protecting the Kurds, in order to keep Turkey in
Turk Military Power
After the United States, Turkey has the second largest
standing armed forces in NATO, with more soldiers
(639,000 military, paramilitary and civilian personnel)
, tanks (3,200), armored fighting vehicles (9,500),
artillery (2,400), and military aircraft (1,067 fighter
jets, attack helicopters, and transports) than Germany,
France, or the United Kingdom. Turkey’s Navy comprises
194 ships, mostly frigates, corvettes, and coastal
gunships, including 12 submarines.
Turkey, in addition to having the second largest armed
forces in NATO, is also evaluated by some analysts as
being among the most militarily powerful nations,
ranking 9th among
the world’s 137 military powers.
Do we really want to kick Turkey out of NATO and have
its military power and strategic geography aligned with
Location, Location, Location
Geographically, Turkey occupies some of the most
strategically important territory in the world.
Turkey is the only NATO member state in the Mideast,
bordering Syria and Iraq, near Lebanon and Israel, a
region that has been, and continues to be, the crucial
crossroads of empire and history since the ancient
Turkey controls the Bosporus Straits, Marmara Sea, and
Dardanelles Straits between the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean, giving them the capability to contain
Russia’s powerful Black Sea Fleet. Turkey’s geographic
location and strong military makes them the anchor of
NATO’s southern flank against Russian aggression.
Turkey is an unsinkable aircraft carrier with 98
airports capable of supporting NATO air operations over
the Middle East, Black Sea, and Balkans.
Turkey is one of only 5 NATO states (the others being
Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands) storing
U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on its territory. Some 50
B-61 nuclear bombs are bunkered at Incirlik AFB,
controlled by U.S. personnel stationed there.
Record As An Ally
Washington foreign policy elites are so fixated on
recent Kurdish contributions to defeating ISIS, they
seem to have forgotten Turkey’s much longer record as an
ally of the U.S. and NATO.
Historically, for decades, Turkey has been a staunch
ally. For example:
--Turkey fought alongside the U.S. during the Korean War
--During the early Cold War, Turkey agreed to basing
U.S. nuclear bombers and IRBMs on their territory,
making Turkey a nuclear target for the USSR.
--President Kennedy was able to avoid nuclear war with
the USSR and resolve the October 1962 Cuban missile
crisis peacefully by secretly promising to Soviet
Premier Nikita Khrushchev to remove U.S. IRBMs based in
--Turkey joined the U.S. and NATO in bombing Bosnia
during Operation Deliberate Force (1995).
--Turkey joined the U.S. and NATO in bombing Serbia
during Operation Allied Force (1999).
--Turkey participated in Baltic Sea air patrols
demonstrating support for the NATO Baltic states (2006).
--For years continuing today, Turkish forces participate
in NATO peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo.
--Recently, Turkey provided military and intelligence
support to U.S. operations that destroyed the ISIS
Unfortunately, Turkey under President Erdogan is
abandoning secularism and democratic norms, becoming an
Islamist authoritarian state, pulling away from the U.S.
and NATO. Indeed, Erdogan is beginning to align Turkey
with Russia, investing heavily in Russian military
equipment, over the objections of the United States.
Erdogan has even threatened to develop nuclear weapons,
which alone could justify withdrawing U.S. tactical
nuclear weapons from Turkey. Yet Turkey, Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, Israel and other Mideast allies all have
legitimate fear of Iran developing nuclear missiles. So
threatened nuclear proliferation by Turkey and others
may be a sign of U.S. failure to uphold its alliance
obligations through credible extended nuclear deterrence
and other means.
Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO may, or may not, be
historically inevitable. The U.S. should do everything
possible to keep such a valuable ally in NATO, and
prevent Turkey from becoming a dangerous foe.
Refugees, Greece and Israel
Turkey controls the flow of Middle Eastern refugees into
European NATO, a crucial role whereby a friendly Turkey
can help stabilize its neighbors, or an unfriendly
Turkey could unleash a human flood into Europe.
Just as NATO membership for Germany, France, Britain,
and the Benelux countries finally stopped the seemingly
endless cycle of European wars, so Turkey’s membership
in NATO quelled the long cycle of conflicts and wars
with Greece, also a NATO member.
Significantly, even Turkey’s controversial invasion of
Cyprus (1974) did not trigger a war with Greece, due in
no small part because both are NATO members.
Israel too will be better served if Turkey remains
moored in NATO, a moderating influence on the Islamist
Erdogan, who may eventually be replaced by a secular
leader. Imagine the threat to U.S. and Israeli
interests if Turkey leaves NATO and becomes another
Islamist rogue state, like Iran.
What of the Kurds?
The Kurds played an important role, and suffered
heavily, partnering with the United States to stop and
destroy the genocidal “caliphate” of ISIS terrorists
under the fanatical leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
(now dead by suicide during a U.S. special forces
operation on October 26, 2019). Kurdish losses in the
war against ISIS are estimated at over 25,000 killed and
100,000 refugees fled to Turkey. These losses are
staggering, out of a population of Syrian Kurds
numbering about 2 million.
Washington elites and the press have romanticized the
Kurds, who are not U.S. allies by treaty (like Turkey)
or by shared long-term interests, and whose sacrifice
was not selfless. The Kurds served their own interest
in survival by helping the U.S. defeat a common
enemy—ISIS terrorists who were slaughtering everyone who
would not submit.
Kurdish dreams of becoming an independent nation are
contrary to U.S. interests in Middle East stability, yet
were unrealistically encouraged by Kurd partnership with
U.S. troops in Syria. Turkey, Syria, Iraq and other
nations are troubled by the separatist aspirations of
their Kurdish minorities.
The withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Syrian border may
better serve Kurdish interests by making them seek more
realistic aspirations, perhaps an autonomous Kurdish
homeland within Syria. U.S. occupation of Syrian
oilfields can help finance Kurdish recovery and in
negotiating a peace in Syria that protects Kurd
interests, as suggested by President Trump in his press
conference on the death of al-Baghdadi on October 27,
Kurdish separatism, their struggle for an independent
tribal homeland, is symptomatic of a wider problem
throughout the Middle East.
Most Mideast states are not truly modern nations as in
Europe, with a shared history, culture, and language
that eclipses localized loyalties and melds the whole
into a stronger national identity.
The map of the Middle East was drawn in the aftermath of
World War I by victorious British and French
bureaucrats, who literally invented the national
boundaries, national names and even national flags, and
imposed these on disparate tribal groups that were often
rivals and enemies
That is why states like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and
Iran are so unstable and often torn by civil wars, or
launch wars of aggression to bind their populations
together with fear and hate of a common enemy.
Kurdish independence, if achieved, could encourage
rebellion by other ethnic and tribal groups throughout
the Middle East, disintegrating nations into zones of
chaos, like Libya, Syria, and Lebanon today.
Some so-called foreign
policy experts claim that by “abandoning the Kurds”
President Trump has destroyed U.S. credibility. Their
argument is absurd and disproportionate.
These same hypocritical
philosophers generally approve of, and in some cases
helped author: abandoning South Vietnam, Laos, and
Cambodia during the Vietnam War (1975); abandoning the
Shah of Iran’s westernizing society to the Islamic
Revolution (1979); abandoning President Hosni Mubarak
and Egypt to the so-called “Arab Spring” (2011);
supporting the Libyan civil war (2011) and then
abandoning the Libyan people to chaos; abandoning Iraq
to ISIS (2014).
President Trump has
negotiated a ceasefire with Turkey that serves Ankara’s
interests and protects the Kurds. But even if the
temporary peace fails, surely the U.S. has poured enough
blood and treasure into the Middle East to prove our
credibility for the next generation.
Today, the Washington
foreign policy establishment is united against President
Trump and Turkey, infatuated with the Kurds. Tomorrow,
if their unrealistic policies prevail, they will blame
everybody but themselves for the disintegration of NATO
and the Middle East.
Dr. Pry has excellent articles on NewMax!! Click below:
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is Executive Director of the Task
Force on National and Homeland Security and served on
the staffs of the U.S. congressional EMP Commission,
Strategic Posture Commission, House Armed Services
Committee, and Central Intelligence Agency.