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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