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It's Time to Expel Turkey From the Western Alliance

July 19, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, despite the
vehement objections of the United States and other NATO members,
has led to new calls to expel Turkey from the alliance.
Such calls have surfaced before, mostly in response to the
country’s mounting authoritarianism under President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, but this time the anger is deeper and more widespread.
Moreover, the complaints stress not only Ankara’s domestic misdeeds
but also worries that NATO has a dangerously unreliable partner on
security policy. Washington’s decision to oust Turkey from further
participation in the F-35 fighter program certainly reflects U.S.
uneasiness.

The issue of Turkey’s autocratic behavior raises fundamental
questions about NATO’s standards and priorities in the 21st
century. During the Cold War, the alliance’s goals were
straightforward. Deterring possible Soviet aggression was the
primary mission. Securing greater unity among Western Europe’s
democracies, preventing the re-nationalization of defenses and
consolidating the United States’ security commitment to Europe
followed close behind.

Turkey no longer is a
credible or desirable ally on the basis of either political values
or security considerations.

A strong internal commitment to democracy was desirable but not
essential for membership. Indeed, one of the founding members,
Portugal, was an outright autocracy under President António
Salazar. When Turkey and Greece became members in 1952, standards
of internal governance became even less rigorous. Turkey’s military
was a key power behind the scenes until the beginning of the 21st
century, despite the prevalence of ostensible civilian rule. Greece
became a full-blown dictatorship for seven years when a cabal of
colonels seized power in 1967. Yet there were no serious moves to
ostracize, much less expel, either country. Maintaining the
alliance’s security solidarity was deemed too important to tolerate
such a disruption.

In the post-Cold War era, though, Western leaders routinely
portray NATO not merely as a military alliance but also as a league
of democracies. Turkey’s mounting domestic repression has become an
acute embarrassment. Erdogan has consolidated an alarming degree of
power in the office of president, undermined the country’s
once-independent judiciary, arranged for political cronies to
purchase the most influential media outlets, and jailed hundreds of
independent journalists and political opponents. He used an
abortive military coup in July 2016 as a pretext to purge the military, the courts and the
educational system of individuals he considered adversaries.
Although elections continue to be held — including a crucial
one last month in which voters chose an Erdogan opponent as the
mayor of Istanbul — it is increasingly difficult to consider
Turkey a genuine democracy.

Even more worrisome, other NATO members are showing similar
signs of authoritarianism, although not as far advanced. Viktor
Orban, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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