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Editorial

Under Development: Turkey’s “Charm Offensive” Aimed at the USA

A photo from last week’s historic meeting of NATO leaders to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stood out: It shows – next to all the other leaders – Erdogan alone, waiting patiently to greet Biden. This was certainly not accidental. Nor does that attitude harmonize with Erdogan’s authoritarian nature. It was predetermined in the context of the ‘charm offensive’ that Turkey has launched towards America.

Recently, the Communications Director of the Presidency of the Turkish Republic, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, responded to the article by Paul Kolbe titled ‘Turkey’s Russian Missiles Could Defend Ukraine’ published on March 18, 2022.

The next day, March 19-20, in a commentary titled ‘Erdogan’s Forgiveness Operation,” I wrote the following:
“And an opinion article in the same newspaper – its author is the director of the Intelligence Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affair and was a Central Intelligence Agency operations officer for 25 years – suggested that Turkey give the S-400 missile system it purchased from Russia to Ukraine… ‘This would be,’ he continues, ‘a way to solve the dispute between Washington and Ankara and do poetic justice in the process.’”

The Turkish official, in his letter, described Kolbe’s proposal as “a rather creative idea… though quite unrealistic today, this idea presents an opportunity to discuss the problems Turkey has experienced lately with the West.”

Then he writes, “to build on Mr. Kolbe’s argument, what the West must do is deliver the F-35 fighter jets and Patriot batteries to Turkey without preconditions.”

And in order not to miss the opportunity… to advertise the beauties of his country, the official continues: “At this point, it is the responsibility of the West and especially the U.S. to normalize relations with Turkey – a NATO ally of 70 years and a stabilizing actor in critical regions [!]. The Ukraine crisis has shown that the geopolitical assessments of those who underestimated Turkey’s strategic importance, claimed that NATO was ‘brain dead’ and thought that national borders were no longer subject to discussion were misguided.”

That was a very clear reference to French president Macron.

There are many reasons why America should not fall into the same trap it has fallen into so many times in the past. (See also my March 19-20 commentary). One of the most pressing reasons is contained in a brief letter the WSJ published in response to the letter of the Turkish official. Zack Lemment from Maryland says: “Having Turkey send its S-400 missile system to Ukraine in return for the renewed opportunity to purchase F-35s is an interesting idea, but I can already envision the latest U.S.-supplied stealth fighters being reverse-engineered by Russian technicians a week after their arrival.”

He said it all.

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