The Turkish Trojan Horse In NATO
By Aaron J Lee
Slavery and genocide are Turkey’s foreign policy tools and have been since its foundation by the Ottoman Turks. Turkey has been in a continuous state of war with its neighbors since its foundation over half a millennium ago when it destroyed the Byzantines, the last remnant of the Roman Empire. Turkey participated in the war in Syria only after the country had been torn to shreds and exhausted itself with civil war. It waited until the Kurds had defeated ISIS (with US help). The Kurds had lost approximately 11,000 people fighting ISIS. And once its NATO ally the US got what it wanted—the destruction of ISIS—Turkey attacked Syria. Believing that the Kurds would become a fighting force that could project power into Turkey and empower the Kurdish minority there, Turkey was out to make a buffer zone that could both hold refugees outside Turkey’s borders, while also pushing back Kurdish militias before they could connect with Kurds in Turkey. Kurds are seen by the Turkish government as a major risk to national unity since they comprise 10% to 20% of Turkey’s population but have sought their own separate Kurdish nation since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In an attempt to cover up its efforts at Kurdish genocide it claims to fight ISIS, and then has weaponized the refugees it has helped create, against the EU. Genocide has always been Turkish state policy when subjects made poor slaves, from Suleiman through Erdoğan. Even the ‘great’ and ‘modern thinking’ Ataturk was an expert at genocide and inspired Hitler, having ‘cleansed’ Turkey of Greeks, Armenians, and Kurds in a ten year period from 1920-1930. Since Ataturk is the ‘father of the Turks’ it is only fair to say that modern Turkey was founded on genocide and only differs from Nazi Germany in that it was born before and will die after. That is to say, modern Turkey was founded as a fascist state. Erdoğan as an acolyte of Neo-Ottomanism only differs from Ataturk in scale of ambition, keeping fascism only where it’s useful and replacing it with Neo-Ottomanism where it isn’t. He’s keeping the best of fascist Turkey and adding some Islamic traditionalism to build the base for a new empire. In order to re-establish a Neo-Ottoman Empire and break the Russian Turk-stream pipeline monopoly, Turkey would need to exterminate Armenia in order to have a contiguous state to the Caspian, since Azerbaijan is ethnically Turkish. The war in Nagorno-Karabakh is merely the next step in the Turkish war of extermination on non-Turks unfortunate enough to live on Turkish occupied or historical Ottoman territory.
The war in Nagorno-Karabakh is a war Turkey prosecutes through its proxies: jihadis in general and Azerbaijan in particular. Russia helped create the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, just as it helped create a permanent Belarus-Poland-Germany dispute, a permanent Donbass-Crimea-Kharkiv dispute, a permanent Kuril Islands dispute, Vladivostok/Primrosky/Siberia dispute, and so forth. Nagorno-Karabakh, is a remnant of Armenia that the USSR—Stalin in fact—gave to Azerbaijan SSR in 1920. Some will argue, ‘Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan when the USSR broke up. Therefore it is Azerbaijani.’ This standard isn’t applied with the existence of Israel: another post-Ottoman successor state, controversial in the Muslim world, and officially denounced by Turkey. Israel, founded in 1948 is illegitimate, while the redrawn Soviet boundaries of Azerbaijan and Armenia are legitimate.
NATO and the EU obsess over maintaining the post WW2 status quo in Europe: containment of Russia, keeping France & Germany on the same side, protecting smaller nations from the aggression of larger ones, and preventing the sort of arms race that led to the world wars. For the last twelve years, the EU has focused on the widening bond yield between Germany and the Mediterranean EU members, Brexit, the migrant crisis, EU’s toothless federalism versus intransigent and non-cooperative nationalist member states like Hungary—and rather than win with all of these challenges as a successful political entity does, the EU appears to be failing on every front. Co-morbid to this condition, for the last thirty years, NATO expanded membership into former Soviet SSR’s in Eastern Europe, in order to prevent a reunion of some sort of USSR successor state via threat of NATO war on Russia. NATO’s motto is ‘an attack on one is an attack on all.’ Turkey exploits this with a foreign policy to conduct clandestine, offensive military operations around its borders.
The Europeans have observed this sort of behavior and it has served as a contributing factor as to why for decades they rejected Turkey’s application for EU membership. Finally, Turkey stopped applying, but the rejection stings to this day. There is a large Turkish expatriate community in Europe, especially in Germany. There are Turks who wish for a more EU style Turkey or an end to fascist Turkey, but they have been politically crushed. In fact, the only other major faction at play in Turkey is another fascist faction that failed in a coup attempt in 2016. Yet the EU’s rejection of Turkey was partial, they still wanted Turkey’s help with projecting NATO power into the Black Sea and Middle East. And as colonial minded people, the EU never considered the possibility of blow-back. They never considered that refugees would be weaponized against them. And they’d never admit that their frenemy Turkey was behind both the war, and the refugee pipeline to Europe.
European political institutions are not only incapable of projecting their power outward, they are anti-Midas. They turn friends to enemies. This is why Brexit looks set to settle un-amicably. The international community hears more about EU disunity than we do about EU harmony. It’s demonstrative of the incompetence of the European ruling class. Who would want this for a strategic result? How does importing millions of refugees help European stability, wealth, or power? The answer is it does not and the governments of the EU prove their weakness every time they try to exercise power. The ECB can’t smooth out the bond rates in Europe, but Germany can use the Schengen Agreement and the European Convention on Human Rights to combine policies to create an unexpected and undesired outcome for many member states. Selective and imbalanced enforcement of the laws creates the opportunity for un-elected bureaucrats to create new policy decisions. This is why Hungary openly defies the EU laws and enforces a hard border in order to prevent refugees from entering and claiming asylum. The EU needs Hungary to stay in, especially after Brexit, and it is thus willing to make any and every compromise necessary. This is why refugees get on inflatable pool toys and try to swim for Lesbos from and with the tacit endorsement of Turkey. Asylum laws take precedence over any other considerations, like economic cost or national self-determination. These institutions have no strategy because they are not bound by a national legal and electoral system. Instead, they are hijacked by bureaucrats to achieve non-democratic outcomes using the surprising elements of policy consilience.
When it comes to NATO, Europe is even more incompetent. NATO members couldn’t keep to spending 3% of GDP on defense, so they lowered the requirement in 2006 to 2% and most members still can’t keep up funding. Those that do are either the UK or have hostile borders (Estonia, Greece, Poland). They complained about the USA levying them to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they expect America to go to nuclear war with Russia to defend Poland. That is what the treaty says, because ‘an attack on one is an attack on all.’ And once again, the treaty makes for unexpected outcomes. The Europeans didn’t want to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the USA used spurious pretexts—that the government of Afghanistan attacked the USA and that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction(WMD)—to rally them to fight in essentially offensive wars. The Europeans have security requirements and concerns, but no apparatus to implement these concerns effectively.
What does it mean then that Turkey, a NATO member, is engaged in offensive wars of expansion along its borders? Well it was supposedly checking Russia, which was and is an ally of the Syrian government. This is what eventually led to a Turkish F-16 shooting down a Russian jet in Syria. The Russians had a communication channel with the US and the US didn’t warn Turkey the Russians were about to fly over the border while conducting an operation in Syria. Since the Russians are always testing air defenses as a matter of military doctrine, one can’t help but feel that Turkey was the dog the US used to bite Russia. So long as Turkey is used to check Russia in the region, the US doesn’t mind if they attack a former US ally like the Kurdish militias in Syria. But this mixed behavior on Turkey’s part is indicative of its own nationalist ambition that only cooperates with NATO when it suits Turkish expansionism. This is another example of post-WW2 institutions turning a blind eye to Turkey, in order to maintain its credibility.
This recent Voice of America article magnifies yet another problem NATO has with Turkey: they are using a Russian weapon system, repudiating NATO arms (F-35). Why would a NATO ally reject NATO weapons systems in favor of supposedly ‘unfriendly’ weapon systems from the nation NATO was designed to contain? One reason is that the US and its allies are quick to apply arms embargoes against unfriendly nations, as Pakistan, Iran, and many others have found (to their surprise). Erdoğan’s switching of weapons systems is a recognition that someday the US and its allies may impose an arms embargo on it. Rather than wait for that to happen, Turkey is preparing for that future by diversifying its arms dealers.
The reality is that NATO is dead, but just like the EU, the Europeans are afraid to admit it. Trump is indicative of forces in the USA that are done financing Europe’s defense. Europe did essentially nothing while Turkey continued to attack its neighbors, but then complained about the horrible war in Syria they were unequipped to stop. Turkey is one of the best conventionally armed NATO members with more tanks than any other European NATO member, with a strong air force (able to shoot down Russians), and capable land forces. Meanwhile, France, Italy, and Germany specialize in combat support roles, but don’t actually have many combat forces. Their military forces are designed to support the American military. They haven’t been restructured because the political leadership is in denial that they need reforms. There is this naive notion that ‘war is over’ in Europe and that therefore militarization is a fool’s game. But then they are powerless to keep their promises and their policies don’t do what they expected them to do, so who’s really the fool here? Turkey uses its military to stoke conflict and then makes Europe pay the humanitarian crisis’s bill. They have weaponized refugees against Greece, unsurprising given Turkey’s aforementioned history of genocide against the Greeks. How can NATO be allied with a member that attacks another member? The Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974, but have been members of NATO since 1952. The old answer was the Soviet Union. The new answer is anti-Islamic terrorism and Russian containment. How does that compete against a Russia offering arms, gas, and a blind eye to Turkey becoming an Islamic terror state? Erdoğan’s strategic choices show us the answer. NATO has tolerated Turkey’s actions for so long it has to continue to do so or lose what’s left of its legitimacy.
Russia, and Putin especially, are adept at exploiting internal contradictions within a system: after all, that’s what Hegelian dialectics are all about and Marx claimed to follow the Hegelian method of determinate negation. Finding the weakness in a system and using the weakness to destroy the system. Again and again, the Russians prove that the Humanities can be weaponized—not as an auxiliary weapon, but as the primary one. NATO’s fundamental weakness is Turkey and the compromises Europe makes to ‘keep’ Turkey on its side. Russia has encouraged Turkey’s regional ambitions that it might totally discredit NATO. If an attack on one is an attack on all, the same rule must apply: an attack by one is an attack by all. If a NATO country is the aggressor and the other NATO countries do nothing about it, are they not endorsing the attacker who becomes secure with the knowledge that a counterattack might trigger the NATO defense clause? And if the answer is ‘no, we use common sense when applying treaty rules,’ then where was the common sense in NATO’s original sin of including a genocidal regime like Turkey, while condemning the genocidal regimes in Europe that started the world war? How can Europeans condemn Germany and ignore Turkey? It strikes at the core of European policy incoherence and is the key to unraveling NATO. Once NATO is discredited, what will stop Russia from re-absorbing the Baltic states? Will Americans want to go to nuclear war to protect Estonia? Policy elites will push it, but when it comes to nuclear war, our lives have been saved many times by soldiers who refused to follow the suicidal orders of lunatics. In short, it seems unlikely.
Border jockeying is an old fashioned European colonial technique to ensure future ethnic tensions that would favor a strong third party (former colonizer) to play peacemaker. Splitting an ethnic group with a border is done in America too—see gerrymandering voting districts. It’s a technique designed to dilute the influence of a major ethnicity in a region ruled by another. This has been done in Poland, Germany, Korea, Japan, pretty much everywhere impacted by the last century’s major wars. For the USSR, the purpose was to permanently enforce the Soviet paradigm. If the USSR gave Poland half of Germany and removed the Germans, replacing them with Poles, then Poland and Germany would forever be at odds. Even if Germany had started the war, it was Poland that accepted a peace settlement that will forever create tensions in the region. Kaliningrad, once Konigsberg and birthplace of essential German thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Christian Goldbach, and ETA Hoffmann, was German and is reinforced as German so long as philosophy, mathematics, and European Romanticism are taught in school. Would Poland want it to revert to Germany? Wouldn’t that call into question Poland’s border integrity? For the student of International Relations, this all seems obvious. But how much of that is because of familiarity with World War 2? This is the very framework of the post-war security paradigm envisioned by George Kennan. Russia wasn’t the only party that wanted Germany carved up. François Charles Mauriac famously said he loved Germany so much he preferred to see 2 of them. Europeans have been trying to solve the ‘German’ problem since the decline of the Holy Roman Empire, so it seems Europeans should be familiar with the need and technique to carve up large and potentially destabilizing ethnicities. Yet when it comes to analyzing non-European border scenarios, short-sighted, self-interested confusion dominates the European analysis. But the rest of the world is not confused. When it comes to Korea for example, China has colonized to the Yalu river. Does it matter that half of Koryo—the founding Kingdom of Korea—is now situated in the borders of modern China? Not at all. In fact, now that there is evidence that Korean civilization predates Chinese civilization, the PRC says that Koreans actually ARE Chinese. This rhetorical inversion is very similar to the one Nazis gave to justify colonizing Scandinavia: Germans are from Scandinavia and so it is therefore the Aryan homeland. It’s not its own region and the identity there is not the identity of the indigenous people. What is strange is that those conditioned to cheer for the outcome of WW2 and are prepared to go to war over it aren’t prepared to do the same thing in East Asia. Korea being redefined as Chinese is a very menacing point of view given the experience of Tibetans, Uighers, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Is China too big to stop? It breaks the norms of the international community, so maybe. Is Turkey too big to stop? Or is it that Europe is too sclerotic to stop it? We see what happens with China when the international community allows violation after violation. First China absorbed Tibet. Now it invades India on land and Vietnam and the Philippines by sea, using its push, then stand-fast style of mini-war. The PRC exploits the international community’s fear of war to absorb its neighbors; just like it exploits the West’s free press by making full use of it, while suppressing it domestically. China expands its power through an aggressive use of double standards and has added to the playbook of dictators worldwide. Turkey has been attacking Greece non-stop, every generation for five hundred and years. For half a millennium. Even though Europe has supposedly matured past genocide states, they still indulge one so long as its supposed enemy is Russia. In short, border gerrymandering is used to ensure future war and to contain both nation and ethnicity. The conflicts that arise from them are ‘tripwires’ that activate coalitions to contain. As these tripwires are tripped without subsequent war machinery activated, we see that the international security infrastructure is collapsing and that challenges to existing borders are becoming increasingly overt.
Russia will not let Turkey have a land corridor to Azerbaijan, if only because then it cannot have a monopoly selling gas to Turkey via the Turk-Stream pipeline. So then why hasn’t it stepped in yet to stop the conflict? Because it benefits from Turkey participating in a gruesome war of genocide in the internet age. Every time an Azerbaijani soldier makes the genocide personal, like the sicko who called the brother of the soldier he’d beheaded in order to mock him, Turkey is painted with the blood. Russia encourages Turkey’s ambitions because each time Turkey attacks another innocent party, NATO is further weakened and Russia’s own ambitions to reunify at least part of the USSR grows closer. Those who redraw borders know that status quo powers will resist efforts of the aggrieved to correct borders forced upon them by aggressors. This hearkens back to an important question: at what date are borders valid? If there is a political history of aggression by one group against another, doesn’t status quo favoring the aggressor reward aggression and undermine the peace the status quo powers seek to enforce? NATO and the EU’s internal contradictions are too visible and both are breaking. When the job is finished, Russia will have broken both organizations, cut Turkey off from Western armaments and that in turn will make Turkey more pliable politically. Russia has no problem sacrificing Nagorno-Karabakh because once a NATO member commits a genocide, Europe will lose the last traces of moral superiority and its post-war institutions will finally collapse. Russian and Turkish empire builders will benefit.