Turkey, NATO and Biden

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A recent article in the WSJ coauthored by former senator Joe Liebermann, addressed the matter. Here I add my thoughts.
Recep Erdogan, Turkey’s president, has been in power for years but could not get his nation into the European Union. His governing style has not measured up to their standards. But now that Finland and Sweden have asked to be part of NATO, he has become the one party in the entire organization to block the two nations’ desires.
Erdogan has not applied the sanctions against Russia most of the EU – except for Hungary – have enforced. Yet he likes to see himself as a mediator that could deliver the deal that will put an end to the war.
He won’t.
As an autocrat, convinced that he should reign in Turkey until his death, he shares much with Putin. So he has no clue as to what freedom is.
He was useful to the EU in stemming the flow of Syrian refugees at the start of that nation’s civil war and got paid for it. Yet, now and then, he threatens to open the borders and let everyone through. Which puts the burden on the EU to find better solutions.
One of Erdogan’s objections to Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO, is that there are Kurdish terrorist groups in both countries who are enemies of his regime.
That is a good point. Why should any NATO nation host any terrorist group against another member nation?
But does Erdogan and Turkey bear responsibility for creating the conditions that led to the formation of such groups?
Turkey has a troubled history dealing with adversaries. At the start of WWI they killed thousands of Armenians, which president Biden, in 2021, on the 106th anniversary of the massacre, pronounced a genocide.
The Kurds have been American allies in the war against ISIS in Syria, and that must be recognized.
Still, support for any terrorist organization is a bad idea.
Erdogan not only wants the Kurdish groups in Finland and Sweden expelled, but also wants to be allowed to buy American planes, a deal that has been held back because a few years ago, against NATO’s wishes, Turkey purchased a Russian missile system which raised concerns that sensitive information from the aircraft would end up in Russia’s hands.
In spite of all of this, Turkey’s membership in NATO has continued.
But now the invasion of Ukraine and the strong response of the West has changed everything.
Erdogan never imagined that Biden and Europe would pull together into a solid bloc, except for Hungary.
Russia’s atrocious invasion and disregard for human life have created a new power alignment.
Finland and Sweden want to join it, but Turkey says no unless their conditions are met.
However, in this new power alignment, as in any other, priorities are needed. And while Turkey’s concern about terrorist groups deserves full attention, it should not be enough to block Finland and Sweden’s admission.
Turkey’s history of silencing the opposition is not compatible with a democracy. Thus, I agree with the view that it should not have the privilege of barring democracies from joining and expanding NATO.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Reflections on the War

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What to do about Hungary?
They’re ruled by an autocrat, Viktor Orban, who they just reelected easily.
They also like Putin. Which helps explain their choice.
They refuse to join in the West’s vigorous support of Ukraine.
They just told the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von Leyen, that they had no interest in joining the EU’s embargo of Russian oil. The only way they’d do it, is if the EU provided them with ‘billions and billions’ to upgrade their energy grid to make them self reliant.
Any hint of sacrificing themselves a little to assist Ukraine is off the table.
No blurred positions. They are clear about what they want.
But they like the protection that NATO offers. And the subsidies that come from the EU. Plus the free borders with the rest of Europe.
The perks, yes, the responsibilities, no.
So the EU should look for a way to boot Hungary out of the union. Mr Orban has been doing this dance for a while so I’m sure that option is being debated.
Geography offers Hungary some protection. If their location were a bit different, as for instance between Belarus and Ukraine, rather than near the center of Europe, they would be a good candidate for a swap. As in the EU saying to Mr Orban, ‘Why don’t you go over to Putin’s side, we’ll take Ukraine instead. We’ll withdraw you from NATO so you can apply for the benevolent protection of Vladimir Putin’. Although I suspect Mr Orban might not like the idea. He seems to prefer playing both sides to see how much he can get.
But there is good news from the war front also.
Finland is about to apply for membership in NATO and Sweden is expected to follow.
Putin must be kicking himself since he told us he must invade Ukraine to push NATO away, and instead now has two nearby nations wanting their protection.
Something about his messaging is not getting through.
This morning I read that Erdogan in Turkey, is opposed to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. He plays both sides, also. Sends drones to Ukraine, then seeks to ingratiate himself with Putin.
But gradually we have discovered that the Russian leader is not an imposing figure at all.
He overestimated the power of his armed forces, underestimated the resolve of Ukrainians and the West, sacrificed thousands of people in the pursuit of his folly and has become an object of scorn to most of the world.
I’m sure he’s even strained his relationship with China since he probably promised a quick victory, not the messy and lengthy affair the invasion has turned out to be.
Although we haven’t seen clear signs of it yet, I believe he’s under pressure from within Russia, from sectors in industry, commerce and the military, which upon taking stock of the damage done by their leader are asking, ‘isn’t it time to get rid of him?’
The magnitude of that internal force is the wild card in this war.
Let’s hope we get to see it play out as soon as possible.
And no, Crimea would not be a retirement option.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts