by Kevin Barrett (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 3, Sha'ban, 1440)
NATO — a euphemism for US occupation of Europe — has been relentlessly expanding eastward. When the Cold War ended then-US-President George Bush Sr. solemnly promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would never expand even one inch to the east. But his successors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama broke that promise, bringing 13 new countries under the American umbrella of occupation and pushing first strike nuclear weapons systems ever-closer to the borders of Russia.
The Americans’ betrayal of their promise to Russia not to expand NATO shows they are pathological liars who cannot be trusted to keep their word. No country should ever make any agreements with them, as Iran learned the hard way after making great sacrifices to sign on to the JCPOA only to watch the Trump regime tear it up and throw it in the garbage bin.
Turkey, too, has learned that the Americans (like their Israeli masters) are congenital liars and betrayers. Even as they give lip service to democracy, US leaders have repeatedly undermined democratic institutions in Turkey, sponsoring a series of coups and coup attempts, most recently the July 15, 2016 attack on the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since that abortive US-sponsored attempt to overthrow Turkish democracy and install CIA asset Fetullah Gülen, Erdogan has been leading Turkey in an increasingly independent direction, much to the dismay of his erstwhile bosses in the US deep state.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Syria policy has drifted away from the US-Zionist regime-change agenda. Now Turkey is looking after its own national interests and even threatening to fight the American invaders of Syria and their Kurdish mercenaries. By sending troops to Qatar in the Summer of 2017 Turkey blocked a planned Saudi invasion that had been blessed by Trump but opposed by then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The Turkey-Qatar alliance has gingerly sided with Iran against the fanatically anti-Iranian Saudis, Israelis, and Americans. If Turkey can continue to improve relations with Iran as it jettisons Kemalist secularism and returns to its Islamic roots, it could play a major role in helping the Muslim East achieve genuine independence.
But Turkey cannot help free the region from neocolonialism while it is itself still an occupied country. So it needs to expel NATO and declare its independence. The trigger event for such a decisive rejection of 67 years of US occupation could be the current spat over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system.
Turkey has committed to buying the S-400 system, which is slated for delivery within the next few months. The US is panicking. American leaders including Vice President Pence have issued dire threats. The Americans insist that if Turkey goes ahead with the S-400 they will ramp up anti-Turkey sanctions and cancel the delivery of F-35 fighter jets that Turkey has already purchased. If they carry through on those threats, the Americans would essentially be daring Turkey to leave NATO. And Turkey would have little choice but to call their bluff and go ahead and leave.
Exiting NATO would undoubtedly bring Western retaliation that would cause problems for Turkey. The Turkish economy is already suffering from covert attacks by the US-centered Western banking system. Those attacks increased during the run-up to the March 31 elections, as Western banksters put pressure on the Turkish lira to cripple the economy, punishing Erdogan for refusing to obey their orders. If Turkey were to expel NATO, even worse economic sabotage would undoubtedly ensue. And more coup attempts along the lines of July 2016 might also be expected.
So Erdogan may choose to play it safe, bargain with the Americans, and find some sort of face-saving compromise on the S-400 and F-35 deals. But would that really be any safer than the alternative? He should remember Henry Kissinger’s words “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.” Erdogan thought he was America’s friend on July 14, 2016. The next day he learned how America treats its friends.
And that was during Obama’s relatively restrained reign. The Trump regime, though it has not yet tried to spark another coup, has been even more arrogant and obnoxious, threatening Turkey with “economic collapse” if it didn’t release a suspected coup participant, and making similarly hyperbolic threats against Turkey’s efforts to contain the US-supported PKK Kurds on its Syrian border.
As Russia and Iran have learned the hard way, America is “not agreement capable” (a rough translation of the Russain term недоговороспособны). There is no point being part of an “alliance” led by pathological liars and thugs. NATO served its purpose as a check on Communist expansion during the Cold War, but today it is way past its shelf life. A new multipolar world is emerging and NATO is a relic of the old world and an impediment to the birth of the new one. Turkey’s long-term interests will be better served if it makes a clean break with the US as soon as the opportunity arises. The collision of the S-400 and F-35 deals, at a moment when the whole world loathes the current troubled and incompetent Likud-owned US regime, offers a golden opportunity to get out of NATO while the going is good.
By making Russia, Iran, and China its major strategic partners, Turkey would be opening up a world of opportunities to its east. A belt of Turkic-speaking peoples stretches all the way from the Balkans to China, a geographical arc that roughly corresponds to the Silk Road, once the main superhighway of Eurasian civilization. As Turkey continues to recover its Islamic identity and heritage, it could help lead these Turkic peoples, many of them robbed of their Muslim culture by 70 years of Communist oppression, back to an Islamic orientation. Turkey’s Sufi approach, unlike the Wahhabi doctrine exported by the US-Israeli-owned mad dogs of Riyadh, is in line with the historical Islamic cultures of the Turkic Silk Road. And unlike Wahhabi fanaticism, Turkic-style Sufi Islam will not be perceived by the Chinese overlords of Xinjiang (aka East Turkestan) as a terror threat. By breaking with NATO and partnering with China, Turkey could put itself in a position to mediate between the Chinese authorities and Uyghur Muslims in hopes of saving or even enhancing the Uyghurs’ Islam while diminishing the Wahhabi-takfiri element that the Chinese government perceives, not entirely wrongly, as a NATO-weaponized threat.
The main impediment to Turkey’s breaking with NATO and embracing the “axis of independence” is Western economic power. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party suffered a setback in the March 31 local elections due to voter anger about the stagnant economy. Turkish leaders would have to successfully communicate to their people the reality of the stark choices they face, explaining why the short-term economic pain will be worth it in the long term.
One way the Justice and Development Party could explain the move to its Muslim base would be to face up to the unpleasant reality that today’s neoliberal banking system is based on riba, and that all Muslims are under the strictest religious obligation to support efforts to abolish usury-based private fractional reserve banking. By leaving NATO, the military occupation wing of the riba banking cartel, Turkey would free itself to not only follow China’s example and institute state-owned banking, but to go even further in finding workable alternatives to institutionalized usury.
By accelerating its progress along the path toward Islam and independence, Turkey could return to the leadership position it once occupied in Muslim world — sharing that position with Islamic Iran, which has paid a steep price for becoming the most authentically Islamic and independent of nations. As the unipolar Western-dominated world order approaches its expiration date, such genuine independence will become an ever-greater asset for those countries bold enough to grasp it.