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Erdogan’s Hunger For The Bomb

October 21, 2019

Turkey’s strongarm leader, Recep Erdogan, isn’t satisfied with just the massive chunk of Syrian land that Trump handed to him.  No, now he wants nuclear weapons as well.

What could possibly go wrong with the idea should it come to fruition?  It is reported today that in the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military across the border to clear Kurdish areas, Erdogan made no secret of his larger ambition.   He stated he could not accept the West telling his nation they can not have missiles with nuclear warheads.   

While this notion that Turkey should have its own nuclear arsenal is dangerous it also needs to be noted why such disorder in the world seems to be intensifying.   At the heart of what Erdogan desires is the fact, he is a strongman who uses ethnic divisions to sow discord which in turn he uses for political advantage.  And the leader of the free world allows for this type of behavior to happen, over and over.

Trump has destroyed, or is in the process of destroying the international institutions which could and should halt the spread of nuclear weaponry.  He has undermined the moral faith and good credit of the United States as an honest international broker in the eyes of the world. He has widely endorsed rulers in Russia, North Korea, and the Philippines along with the awful ethnic-nationalism which stands behind them.

All of this comes on top of the frayed U.S. relations with Turkey over its incursion in Syria.  Over the past week one of the stories which many are concerned about is the obviously sensitive question of whether we should remove the nuclear bombs it has long stored at a Turkish airbase?

All my life it has been the policy of the U.S. to not publicly acknowledge locations of nuclear weapons overseas.   But analysts and scholars feel solid in their reasoning that we have perhaps 50 nuclear bombs stored under heavy guard at Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey.  What confounded me last week was how Trump seemingly acknowledged that privileged information.  When asked by a reporter how confident he was of the bombs’ security he replied “We’re confident.”   So much for state secrets.

There is no known evidence that those nuclear weapons are at direct risk, but relations between Washington and Ankara are, from my memory, at a historic low and the war in Syria has grown more complex and unpredictable.

If David Ignatius were writing the story in book form he would surely add that Incirlik is about 150 miles from Syria by road.

I, like many in this nation, attempt to understand the jigsaw nature of the world.  When thinking about this region, given the past few weeks of absolute choas, it is hard to see a light at the end of the road.  I can not sense any good set of options for NATO members in dealing with what we now all know to be Erdogan’s objective.  Since Trump has kneeled on the world stage and allowed the tactical high ground in the region to Turkey. with no apparent strategic framework in mind, I am at a loss as to see anything but ruin in the region.

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