I have a new piece up today on the Turkey-Koboni-Kurd saga. Turkey has no interest in lifting a finger that might help the Kurds, which puts them (kind of) at odds with the United States, but let’s just say I’m skeptical about the neocon right’s plans to punish Turkey for the transgression of not doing what we want:
So the question of the day for America’s foreign policy establishment, particularly the neoconservative elements within it (who already oppose Erdogan’s government over its alignment with the Muslim Brotherhood and its tense relations with Israel), seems to be: “what can America do about Turkey?” It’s never considered sufficient to say, “well, that other country’s national interests just don’t coincide with America’s, and I guess we’ll have to adjust for that.” No, any failure on the part of another supposedly sovereign nation to recognize that America Is Exceptional And The Indispensable Nation is An Insult and Must Be Dealt With Harshly.
Turkey is a “non-ally” and America should move its regional military bases into Kurdish Iraq, says the Wall Street Journal, presumably because the Turks are refusing to commit their army to fighting a war on America’s behalf. US officials are reportedly angry because Turkey “want[s] the U.S. to come in and take care of the problem,” except, you know, the US is the one for whom “it” (Daesh) is apparently a problem, not the Turks. From the serious reactionaries we’re even hearing calls to “kick Turkey out of NATO,” a course of action for which NATO seems to have no precedent or procedure, and that, like most reactionary policy ideas, would create maximum disruption while accomplishing nothing constructive. Say NATO does kick Turkey out—what then? Do the Turks suddenly see the error of their ways and make amends? Why would they do that? What if NATO divides on the question of expelling Turkey? Is there any possible outcome of pursuing Turkey’s expulsion from NATO that would have a positive impact on the fight against ISIS?
By the way, you want to imagine a scenario that could really threaten to put an end to NATO and totally flummox the Obama foreign policy team? Imagine if Turkey’s Kurds declare independence from Ankara, and Turkey invokes Article 5 of the NATO charter and says it’s under attack by the Kurds (say it fudges and says that Kurds from Iraq are behind the whole thing). What does the U.S. do? Do we screw the Kurds again or do we tell Turkey and NATO to go to hell? Do we back the country we have a treaty with or the people who, unlike the leadership of that country, are actually behaving like U.S. allies? Now imagine Turkey’s Kurds announce that they’re joining Syrian and Iraqi Kurds in forming an independent Kurdistan, which is contrary to U.S. interests in Iraq? What do we do then? This is just one of the many ways in which the current catastrophe in Syria and Iraq could still get much, much more complicated.