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America Adrift
Turkey and the Ruins of U.S. Foreign Policy

Fresh off arresting over 13,000 people, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. TRT reports:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Tuesday.

The meeting will be the first since Russia and Turkey began normalising relationsfollowing the downing of a Russian jet in November last year.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich in Moscow, Simsek said the two countries wanted to normalise relations “as quickly as possible”.

“Russia is not only our valuable neighbour, but also our important and strategic partner,” Simsek said adding that, “We are here to improve our relations and bring them to an even higher level than before November 24.”

The Turkish deputy prime minister also said that he had thanked Russia for its support towards Turkey during the July 15 coup attempt.

Reuters also noted that a deal may be in the offing for restarting the mothballed TurkStream pipeline.

Erdogan’s pivot to Russia is the latest indicator of the ruins of U.S. foreign policy. In President Obama’s original strategy of bringing peace to the Middle East and marginalizing terror by reaching out to democratic Islamists, Turkey’s Erdogan was supposed to play a major role. Indeed, Obama was widely reported to have spent more time on the phone with him than with any world leader.

Meanwhile, of course there was also the “reset” with Russia—with “more flexibility” for Moscow promised after Obama’s re-election.

Yet America’s relations with both Turkey and Russia are in shambles. Domestically, Putin and Erdogan have gone in a more authoritarian direction. In geopolitics, Moscow and Ankara have refused to go along with the White House’s plans. This is not all President Obama’s fault of course—he doesn’t and cannot control other world leaders. But it’s hard not to notice that Obama’s early maneuvering hasn’t had the results he promised. The opportunities first-term Obama saw in Turkey and Russia have either been squandered or were never even there in the first place. Even after Obama has left office, it will be difficult for the U.S. to repair the damage caused by the president’s early geopolitical misreadings.

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  • Attila_the_hun

    Everything Hussein O has done in ME has been backfiring. The reason Erdo is trying patch up with Putin is The Kurds. Erdo is terrified by
    Syrian Kurds -YPD- with the help of The USA carving a piece of Syria. In Erdo’s mind warming up to Putin is putting pressure on The USA to back off from supporting YPD

    • Fat_Man

      The Russians have supported the Anatolian Kurds far longer and far more intensively, than the US has.

      • Attila_the_hun

        Not true. PKK may had contacts with KGB and got some light arms from it.. The USSR or Russia never openly support outright splitting Turkey. What’s happening in Syria is direct threat to Turkey’s existence. Just take a look the towns around southeastern Turkey. Many of them are war zones -which Turkey is not allowing UN human rights NGO’s inspections – like Kobani or Baghdad.

  • Kev

    It’s often said that Russia has an economy the size of Italy, dying declining country etc, and therefore has no business competing with US and EU for influence. Yet look at how Putin succesfully handled Erdogan, and compare this to how EU allowed themselves to be blackmailed by this third-world Muslim dictator. Who is the great power here?

    • Fat_Man

      A demonstration of the competence of the Obama Administration, of which Hillary was SoS. Doesn’t look good for US. Fortunately, it makes no difference, see above.

      • Hillary’s ‘competence’ is constantly invoked yet never demonstrated. As SoS especially she bears as much responsibility as Obama and on Libya/Syria hers was the driving voice. This was to be her Crowning Glory on the international stage.

  • Fat_Man

    Russia and Turkey deserve each other. We should let them have all the fun they want to have. They can have Greece too. The entire Black Sea/Aegean/Balkan area is a slum that is of no strategic or economic importance to the US.

    • Problems Two: Greece is in the EU. Turkey is in NATO and will be in the EU as soon as it can be wrangled. Trump’s call to re-think NATO is twenty years late but quite welcome.

      • Fat_Man

        More reasons to dissolve NATO. Quitting the EU makes the Brits look smart. Say what?

  • Nevis07

    How much US/Western weapons systems and intelligence can Turkey provide Putin should Erdogen turn? Quite a bit, I think.

    • What would prevent Erdogan from giving Putin the keys to US installations? Only the resistance of the Americans standing there and then only if Obama were to give the order. Reset Accomplished.

  • catorenasci

    Given the historical emnity between Russia and Turkey, the importance of the (mostly forgotten in the era of NATO) Straits Question for the balance of power in the Mediterranean and the sea routes through the Suez canal, and the ability of a Russo-Turkish entente to create European instability in the Balkan powder keg, their rapprochement is potentially catastrophic for Europe and the West. (is it time to flood Chunnel yet?) I doubt many current “leaders” in DC – even the supposed foreign policy ‘gurus’ – have a good appreciation of this. The damage to American and broader Western interests caused by Obama’s feckless foreign policy will reverberate for generations, if not centuries.

    • I doubt many leaders in DC has any historical knowledge that preceded the advent of the Internet.

      • catorenasci

        Undoubtedly! If anyone wonders why public support for the liberal arts, and public higher education generally, has fallen so over the past 30-odd years, they should look no further than the truly stunning ignorance of even history majors about European history, even political science majors about political philosophy, even business majors about economics, and the stunning inability of communications majors to communicate anything of value.

  • Democratic Islamist? That means if elected he will establish sharia law with the severity of Saudi Arabia’s monarchy. If defeated he will establish sharia law with the severity of Saudi Arabia’s monarchy.

  • It’s almost as if one leader after another sees what Obama is willing to offer, takes it, then walks away, laughing. Arafat did it. Iran did it.

  • Guest

    Obama said he was going to transform the country, and he did. Obama also wanted to change America’s role in the world, and he did. Domestically, it will be difficult to reverse Obama’s “accomplishments.” Internationally, Obama’s “accomplishments” are irreversible. History will see the reign of Obama as being as disastrous as the Ming Dynasty decision to burn Zheng He’s Treasure Fleet in the 15th century…prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

  • mhjhnsn

    A few years ago, George Friedman at Stratfor observed that Iran and Turkey, the largest and most advanced Islamic nations in the region, would eventually contest for dominance in the Middle East. Obama unequivocally threw in with Iran, when Turkey was both more important and already a NATO ally. Erdogan is vile in some ways, but Obama threw Turkey under the bus. What does one think Erdogan would do? Now, Russia having recovered Crimea from Ukraine, is about to secure transit rights for its warships through the Straits. Well played, Obama, Clinton and Kerry. You took a complicated situation and found the absolute worst possible outcome for the US.

    People talk about Trump as a threat to NATO when he says every member should bear a fair share of the burden, as if that is somehow outrageous rather than the original 1949-51 premise, which has been lost. Meanwhile, Obama and his 2 SecStates have overturned the entire cart of treaties and relationships forged since 1946, much to our detriment, and no one say “boo!”

  • CaliforniaStark

    Given that Russia and Turkey support different sides in the Syrian civil war, and both consider the outcome of the conflict vital to their national interests, this is going to be a difficult love match. Perhaps Assad can participate in the couple’s honeymoon. Then there is the issue of the shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkmen militia several months ago. Am not a fan of many aspects of Obama’s foreign policy; but trying to blame him for Erdogen’s erratic behavior is nonsense.,

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