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Transatlantic Alliance Mistake: Turkey Isn't Worthy of NATO Membership

November 13, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

It is hard to imagine a less appropriate visitor or time. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is journeying to Washington. He has guided his nation, a one-time valued ally, far from America’s principles and practices. President Donald Trump’s view of Erdogan as a “friend” makes Ankara’s drift more dangerous.

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Turkey would not be invited to join the transatlantic alliance today. It has abandoned even the pretense of liberal democracy. Once viewed as a responsible Islamic model, the Turkish republic is turning into a soft dictatorship.

Ankara always was the odd man out in NATO: poor, Islamic, and at best quasi-free and -democratic. However, during the Cold War the United States was willing to overlook Turkey’s limitations and failings to bolster Western Europe’s southeast flank. That nation also offered a convenient outpost in the Middle East. The hyper-nationalistic population proved hostile to Washington, but the military, which wielded a not-so-subtle veto over the country’s politicians, ensured that policy remained on Washington’s course.

However, the secular nationalist doctrines known as Kemalism, named after the country’s founder, gradually broke down in the face of increasingly well-organized Muslims determined to live out their faith more publicly. As the economy stalled and exhausted establishment parties imploded, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, rose along with its founder, former Istanbul Mayor Erdogan. The AKP won a dramatic national victory in 2002 and has ruled ever since.

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For a time, Prime Minister Erdogan followed a seemingly liberal agenda: he kept the military in its barracks, aimed for entry in the European Union, and ended many nationalist strictures. Even liberals—in the broadest sense—and feminists lauded progress under his leadership.

However, as the 2000s ended a new Erdogan emerged. Years before he reportedly said that democracy was like a street car, you get off when you arrive at your destination. Once he secured power and neutered the military, he turned authoritarian. That in part reflected his fear of rising evidence of corruption: once on the outs, AKP activists now …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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