Select Page

Erdoğan Reelection Not Good News For NATO or United States

Erdoğan Reelection Not Good News For NATO or United States

As NATO expands, there is bound to be a greater diversity of opinions among the members.  The most obvious example is Turkey – which has almost reached the level of a rogue state within the Alliance.  The person responsible is President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.  Turkey’s once close ties to the United States and NATO have been drifting away over the course of Erdoğan’s 10-year reign.  Coincidental to Turkey’s drift away has been Erdoğan’s shift from democracy to authoritarian rule.

Erdoğan just won reelection to his third five-year term – and that is not good for NATO or the United States.  As Turkey’s ties to the United States have weakened, Erdoğan has built a stronger alliance with Russia and its dictator President Vladimir Putin.

Recently, both Finland and Sweden have applied for membership in NATO.  This is a huge blow to Putin’s efforts to keep NATO nations from bordering on Mother Russia.  It was his pretext for invading Ukraine before it would wind up a NATO nation.

Under pressure from his NATO allies, Erdoğan has agreed to admit Finland, but he so far opposes the addition of Sweden – and any new members to NATO must be approved by every current member.  That would also create a likely barrier for Ukraine to eventually join NATO – as it has already expressed a desire to do.

Had Erdoğan been defeated, the new president would have approved the inclusion of Sweden – and most likely Ukraine in the future.

Even as NATO and the United States have sanctioned Putin over his invasion of Ukraine, Erdoğan has not only maintained friendly ties width Putin, but continues to trade with Russia – undermining the NATO sanctions.  In addition, he has purchased Russian missile defense systems – which undermines the interoperability of the Alliances defense network.

In a number of world conflicts, Erdoğan has intervened in opposition to NATO’s objectives and interests – including in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The reelection of Erdoğan is also a blow to Turkey’s democratic movement.  In amassing power, he has brutally cracked down on dissent, jailed journalists and curbed judicial independence, and restricted civil liberties – the principle democratic hallmarks of the NATO alliance.

Despite Erdoğan’s power to influence the outcome of elections, it was close.  Almost half of the people of Turkey wanted Erdoğan out in favor of his pro-democracy opponent.  This means that Erdoğan does not have a mandate from the people – and could suggest growing dissension in the future.

The ties to NATO and the United States are strained but not broken.  Turkey holds a strategic position in the Middle East.  It is still an important trading partner – and it hosts an American military presence, which is believed to include nuclear weapons.  Turkey’s position on the Black Sea is critical since both Russia and Ukraine (pre-Russian hegemony) comprise most of the Sea’s shoreline.

Erdoğan sees himself as a broker on the international stage, but is he tilting too much in favor of the authoritarians and away from democratic states that comprise NATO?  Regardless, his reelection was not good news for NATO nor the United States.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

5 Comments

  1. Tom

    I am not an Erdogan fan. He seems like a dictator to me. There are things we could do to relieve the strain on US-Turkey relations. But in the end, Erdogan seems to be dealing cards from two different decks. His country straddles the West and East. His policy seems to be compartmentalization of issues to help him navigate the complexities of relationships with both West and East. In the end, it seems to be a game of what he can get from each to help his country survive and grow.

    According to the most recent US Congressional Report on Turkey, the following US actions irritate Turkey:

    Congressional actions and options. U.S.-Turkey tensions have led to a number of congressional initiatives and other U.S. actions. These include sanctions for Turkey’s S-400 purchase from Russia, informal congressional holds and proposed legislation aimed at restricting arms sales, and other efforts to limit strategic cooperation or empower Turkey’s rivals like Greece and the Republic of Cyprus. Options for further legislative action or oversight could address topics including possible F-16 sales; existing or new sanctions relating to the S-400, Syria, and Russia; Turkey’s upcoming election, and U.S. political and economic engagement with Turkey’s government. Other issues such as the Kurds in northern Syria where there are US, Russian, and Iranian forces all mixing complicate his ability to deal with the Kurds which he considers a terrorist group and a faction of them called the PKK is on a US terrorist list. This angers him.

    We could do a lot to improve relations with Turkey but again, you are dealing with a man who enjoys and exploits being the tipping point in the balance of power between the West and East, specifically NATO and Russia. His real driver seems to be economy (which is a trainwreck right now for him) and growth. Funny thing is that while Erdogan plays West against East, he is not enjoying much economic benefit from either. But one thing is for sure, Russia is all in, but that might change as their economy worsens due to Ukraine war and Biden sanctions. So it may not be long before the pendulum swings back more into the NATO direction. Its a wait and see game. But for now, we must be careful what armaments we give him. He wants new fighter jets to replace his aging F-16 fleet. Turkey agreed on a framework deal for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, but Turkey has delayed ratifying their accession while demanding that the two countries help Turkey act against people it considers to be terrorists. Ok so Sweden for newer fighter jets (but not the newest) that can become part of the aggregate NATO defense assets. Help his economy by plugging him into Western economy more, and negotiate the terrorist situation. What will remain is energy. He gets most of it from Russia. And I do not see a replacement for that. So what we are left with is maybe policy adjustments for a country like Turkey that will never be all in to the West or the East. Clearly he sees NATO for economy and defense. But he sees his economy propped up by oil from Russia. Perhaps winning in Ukraine could offer Turkey an energy alternative in the future. This is something Putin would fear greatly.

  2. Mike f

    Larry, I would be remiss to not point out that the guy you voted for in 2016 and 2020 for president is delighted that Erdogan won re-election in Turkey. Of course, like most moderates I realize that his reelection is not good for democracy or NATO, nor would returning the idiot-in-chief to the WH in 2024 be good for those institutions..

    • Tom

      You hit the bullseye twice Mike f!!! Which idiot are you referring too? The forgetful idiot Biden, or the arrogant lying narcissist idiot Trump?

      • mike f

        I’ll take the forgetful one any day of the week-he gets along with our allies, he doesn’t believe in tax cuts that increase our deficit, and when he spends money it mostly goes for things that need to be accomplished….(no robbing the military to fund a wall that his people thought was a waste, doesn’t curtsy to dictators-need I go on????)

  3. Joseph S. Bruder

    Like it or not, Erdogan’s election was free, if not actually fair. He had major control over the press in Turkey. But he’s been there for 20 years already, and we’ll just have to deal with him for another five.

    It’s now up to the US and Europe to put pressure on him to conform to international norms and his NATO obligations. It’s unfortunate that Trump gave him 4 years of legitimacy to bolster his standing in the country, while undermining US credibility in freedom of press, free elections, and human rights. Fortunately, the US is on course to correct those mistakes, and prove to the world that Trump was just a one-off mistake.