Time to Leave

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that if the US goes forward with sanctions over this NATO member’s purchase of advanced weapons systems from one of NATO’s (and the US’) staunchest enemies, he’ll close the bases we use there. He also implied such action in response to Congress’ belated official recognition of the genocide the then-Turkish government perpetrated on Armenians 100 years ago.

If necessary, we’ll close Incirlik and also Kurecik. If the threat of sanctions is implemented against us, we’ll respond to them in the framework of reciprocity.

Aside from air operations staging from these bases, we also have some nuclear bombs stored there.

In light of Erdoğan’s current behavior, we should leave Turkey altogether.  Given President Donald Trump’s decision to greatly cut back on operations in Syria (whether that’s a good decision or a bad one is not relevant in this context), we don’t need to stage much of anything out of Turkey. Aside from that, other alternatives would seem readily available for staging operations around the Middle East while still being able to move promptly to protect southern and southeastern Europe and the Black Sea.

The bombs long since should have been transferred elsewhere, anyway, but it’s time for them, especially, to be moved out rather than leaving them at risk within the borders of so unreliable an ally.  Recall that this unreliability has not begun with Erdoğan’s cozying up with Putin or his beef with Trump. He also, at the last minute, refused to allow us to stage from Turkey at the outset of our last war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, greatly complicating that operation.

It’s time to cut bait and move on from Turkey.  The nation was a good idea, once, but Erdoğan has ruined its utility as a friend and ally, and he’s ruining it as a nation.

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