President Erdogan has cooperated with the European Union to slow down the flood of migration from Turkey to Europe. At least 5 million refugees are sheltering in Turkey. Yet, he threatens to unleash millions of refugees into Europe.
And there are other threats to Europe stemming from Turkey’s instability.
• Turkey’s civil war against the Kurds could get bigger due to the president’s actions. Both the Kurdistan Workers Party and the newly emerged Islamic State are Turkey’s enemies. Growing civil war could close the energy supply to Europe by shutting down oil and gas pipelines.
• Due to the prospect of a wider civil war, the arsenal of nuclear weapons at the NATO base in Incirlik is in danger of being captured.
• More than 50 atomic weapons are believed
to be located there.
So, what should the United States and NATO do to protect Western countries from a destabilized Turkey?
We can look to the successful strategies of the Reagan administration for clues.
President Reagan opted to stand firm against the threat of Soviet expansion, but at the same time, he reached behind the Iron Curtain to speak to people who were oppressed.
The NATO alliance must engage the Turkish people and do three things.
1.) First, pursue criminal charges against President Erdogan at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for aiding terrorists;
2.) Second, the West should draw down its NATO forces in Turkey and relocate sensitive weapons to other countries.
3.) Third, apply “tough love” when dealing with the Turkish strongman government.
Trade sanctions should be considered. But Washington should reach out to all the peoples of Turkey — Turks, Kurds, Muslims and nonMuslims — who want a stability that only a republic of laws can give them. Encourage efforts to restore Turkey’s free press and give humanitarian aid.
America desires to see Turkey become an economically strong partner that is at peace, both at home and with its neighbors. The Turks have been wonderful allies of the American people.
Fact is, the Turkish people are resilient, and Turkish democracy can flourish again. The United States must not enable a dictatorship but help the Turkish people choose freedom, faith and prosperity.
With the wisdom of constitutional government supporting its democracy and with goodfaith partners in NATO, the best days of Turkey are still ahead.