The world sits with its eyes wide open in anxiety, fearing the impending invasion of Ukraine as 100,000 Russian troops surround the country. As of January 20, US officials confirmed that US President Joe Biden’s administration has now authorized several NATO allies to send weapons, including anti-tank weapons, to Ukraine. Speculating on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next steps, Biden said “I guess he’s going to move in.” Through his comments, Putin gave similar indications. While the United States tries to show that NATO is strong, such a thing could not be further from the truth. One irrefutable truth that Western mainstream media refuses to face is that we wouldn’t be in this situation were it not for Washington’s treatment of Turkey over the past two administrations. The weakening of Turkey’s security needs by the United States allowed Turkey to be drawn into Russia’s sphere of influence and the effect on NATO’s credibility was devastating.
The credible military deterrent that NATO once was is no longer as powerful; Putin sees no stopping him and no reason not to pursue his desires to expand Russia’s sphere of influence in retaliation for NATO’s historic expansion of presence. Putin is a man of power and opportunity. The simple reality is that he is aggressive right now because he can be. NATO was created with the fundamental purpose of deterring Russian aggression, in particular through Article 5 of the Washington Treaty which stipulates the obligation of all member states to react if any of them them is attacked. When its members were more cooperative, it was actually a credible way to prevent Russia from bulldozing its neighbors.
Why NATO is getting weaker
Much ink has been spilled in the mainstream media about why NATO’s credibility is waning; commonly cited reasons are China’s expansion of power and former US President Donald Trump’s cost-cutting isolationism as leaving the alliance weak. Much of this, however, is a distraction because analysts know that Russia considers nothing but sheer military power and stark geostrategic realities. This is why Turkey, given its geographical location and military power, is so critical.
Turkey, despite being NATO’s second largest military, has seen its vital national security interests repeatedly undermined by the United States Under President Barack Obama, the United States chose to support YPG terrorists in Syria – a group that US officials have openly admitted to being affiliated with. the PKK terrorist organization, which is on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Under the Trump administration, the move led to major tensions between the Turkish and US military in northern Syria, and US officials later shamelessly accused Turkey of ethnic cleansing when Ankara sent troops to eliminate the threat that the United States posed to its national security. Turkey has also been denied the sale of US Patriot missiles, which is embarrassing from a US strategic perspective as it has caused Turkish defense systems to be flooded with Russian S-400s. Not only did the United States sanction Turkey for pursuing an alternative to what it had been denied, but Washington also attempted to reverse this strategic catastrophe by reneging and offering Patriot missiles when it was far too late. – a clear admission of their error.
A miscalculation is expensive
One has to look at the crisis from Russia’s perspective and just wonder how it appears to a very calculating Putin. America’s strategists should be ashamed of allowing this to happen; they succeeded in pushing one of NATO’s most critical members into Russia’s sphere of influence and in questioning the very essence of their strategic credibility. In Putin’s eyes, now the warring factions have fought each other long enough to be assured that there will be no collective NATO response to his aggression. What other than the encouragement of Russian military aggression can the West expect when it undermines the unity of the alliance that was founded to prevent it?
American officials are completely out of touch with reality and are working frantically to reassure the world that America is in charge when it is no longer. Biden is scrambling for a solution and threatening sanctions, but we know that’s a slap on the wrist at best. Not only does Putin hold little accountability to his people, but the resulting economic hardship could only invigorate the spirits of his loyal supporters and military. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is in Europe trying to convince the world that NATO is strong and united, which the Russians are probably taking for a joke at this point. US Vice President Kamala Harris gave an interview to USA Today where she reiterated the deep concern that the United States is supposed to have for Ukrainian sovereignty, but where was that deep concern for the sovereignty of Turkey, a member of the NATO, while the United States was arming terrorists on its border? The more US officials claim to cherish the NATO mission and its unity, the more they damage their own credibility.
The only way to end this crisis would be through preemption, which would only have been possible if the United States treated Turkey as a true ally. This is because Russia does not see the world through the neoliberal lens the way the United States does; rather, it is much more in touch with the traditional realities of global politics where the strong do what they want and the weak suffer what they must. Try to imagine Russia attempting such a move with US-allied Turkey on its border, ready and ready to respond. Putin is a realist and understands that he cannot afford to sacrifice too much financially or in terms of human life in this conflict; that is why he waited for this moment.
Why then did the United States undermine its bilateral relations with Turkey? Many of the reasons Washington has turned its back on Ankara have been for so-called human rights issues; however, Turkey has taken the necessary steps to defend its security, and Western definitions of human rights do not take into account Turkey’s unique security conditions. American policymakers, who have become too comfortable with their superpower status, have clearly thought it appropriate to sacrifice hard power and spheres of influence for less critical human rights issues on the strategic plan. This approach simultaneously meant ignoring that Russia continues to adhere to a Hobbesian worldview despite the fact that the West sees itself as above traditional realism. The effects of this strategic ignorance and misarrangement of priorities are taking their toll amid the impending invasion of Ukraine.
Didn’t US officials know that Turkey’s push into Russia would be strategically disastrous? Of course they knew this, but it is likely that they were used to previous Turkish administrations and saw Turkey as too weak to support the United States. The reality is that Turkey is not a puppet of the West. The country regains its strength, its independence and its identity. The days of Ankara’s dependence on Washington are over. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is showing the world a new strong Turkey that the West cannot bear to see, a Turkey that is now strong enough to defend its interests militarily and otherwise. If the United States’ position on NATO unity is sincere, then the United States will have to offer Turkey real incentives to return to the fold rather than expecting it to submit to the whims and wishes of Washington. At this rate, however, the United States should prepare to say goodbye to the indispensable and irresistible power status it once enjoyed.