When late last spring, President Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the White House lawn, Obama spoke about the close relations between himself and the Turkish leader and the partnership between the United States and Turkey. Erdoğan, meanwhile, used the meeting as cover for a further crackdown on independent press in Turkey.
Earlier this week, Turkish President Gül talked with Obama over lunch, seeking American help with Turkey’s security concerns regarding Syria. Again, such a high-profile meeting served as cover for Turkish subterfuge. Yesterday, Turkey announced that it would award a $4 billion air defense contract to co-produce a long-range missile defense system with a Chinese firm sanctioned by the United States for its proliferation activities with Iran.
Because of NATO interoperability issues, the Turkish move might lead to the exposure of US and NATO air defense secrets and software to the Chinese. This is not the first time that Turkey has undercut NATO security to the benefit of the Chinese. Three years ago, the Turkish Air Force held war games with their Chinese counterparts without first alerting NATO or the Pentagon. Turkey has also sought to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is to anti-Western dictatorships what the European Union is to democracy.
In the late 1990s, Israel sought to sell China the Phalcon airborne early warning system. The Israeli move was wrong-headed and a betrayal of its relationship with the United States. The Clinton administration came down hard on Israel, as it should have.
How sad it is that, as Turkey pivots to China, not only does the Obama administration propose no consequence, but a bipartisan array of American members of the congressional “Caucus on US-Turkey Relations ” seems so willing not only to turn a blind eye, but would effectively lend their names as endorsers for a country whose actions ultimately might lead to the deaths of American forces in any future conflict.