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Trump and Erdogan — When Appeasement Does Not Work

Trump and Erdogan — When Appeasement Does Not Work
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint press conference with the Iraqi prime minister following their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on August 14, 2018. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, 14 August 2018 05:10 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan was, perhaps still is, the hero of many American Progressives who, in face of reality, still cling to the hope that there can be, and there is, a form of modern, liberal, democratic Islam. A good wish, but in reality a forlorn hope, and that has to be said, not with joy, rather with sadness. Go and tell it to Fareed Zakaria of CNN and others on the Left side of the media, who, for years, hailed the man, in fact almost turning him into a modern-day saint. Erdogan is however nothing of the sort. Erdogan is a modern-day Sultan, who is turning Turkey into the Sunni version of the Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, he is the man who proves, that while in theory Islamic government can be all the nice things that the Zakarias of the media want them to be, in actual terms it just does not work.

Erdogan is residing in a presidential palace with 1,000 rooms, brought the once prospering Turkish economy to the brink of total collapse and has engaged in disputes with literally all the neighbors of Turkey, and other countries, not least Israel, which traditionally enjoyed good, even strategic relations with the non-Islamist governments of Turkey. He suppressed the democratic system in Turkey, using as an excuse a failed military coup d’etat in July 2016. The more we know now about this attempted coup, the more evidence is emerging that there was no genuine coup, rather a sophisticated plot of the regime itself to create the impression of a coup in order to bring about a quick process of Islamization. For Turkey, this was their version of the Reichstag fire in Germany, soon after the rise of Hitler to power in January 1933. Erdogan is the modern-day Sultan, but little did he expect his Sultanate to be also the modern-day version of the "Sick man on the Bosporus." The man apparently is very talented, though his greatest talent is the transformation of Turkey into yet another failing Muslim state in the Middle East.

Such states have many things in common, not least in the list is the hatred towards the West, and especially the leader of the free world, the U.S.

President Obama dealt with this situation as he dealt with other American foreign policy issues. He went to Turkey in the beginning of his first term and apologized. Apologies were Obama’s secret weapon of dealing with the Muslim world — blame America and make the Muslims happy — this was Obama’s version of appeasement, and it did not work in the 21st Century, as it did not work in the 1930’s. Tayyip Erdogan and Barack Obama started as good friends, but in late 2016 they were already adversaries. Not because Obama recanted his appeasement strategy which he adhered to until the last day of his presidency, for example with his anti-Israel campaign, but because Erdogan acted as dictators usually do: show them a finger and they want the whole hand. The dictator demanded that the U.S. would extradite the exiled Turkish religious leader, and a rival of Erdogan, Fethullah Gulen, for his alleged involvement in the coup attempt, completely ignoring the way the legal system works in the American democracy. His bodyguards ferociously beat Kurdish demonstrators in D.C. during his visit there, while the dictator was watching the unsavory spectacle from the window of the Turkish Embassy. The dictator did not stop there — he ordered his army to besiege the Incerlik air-base, where NATO stores atomic bombs as part of his attempt to put pressure on the U.S. to give Gulen away and for months until now, has conducted a vitriolic anti American propaganda campaign. He climaxed the campaign with a show of public friendship with Vladimir Putin and then decided to do something else. His notorious police detained an American pastor, Andrew Bronson, a resident of Turkey, allegedly for his participation in the coup. This is a typical terror tactic, previously developed by the Iranians and Hezbollah, adopted by other Muslim movements — have Americans as hostages and expect to blackmail America. Luckily enough for Bronson, he is not held in the same Turkish jail which became infamous with the movie "Midnight Express." However, the dictator miscalculated. Trump is not Obama, the era of apologies and appeasement is over, and instead of them, there are sanctions, and they work. The Turkish Lira is in a free fall, and the entire Middle East is watching. This is now a battle of wills, watched with alarm in Tehran, but with positive expectations elsewhere in the region. One American pastor is involved, but it is more than one person. It is about one symbol, and what Trump started, he has to end. Sanctions until Bronson is unconditionally released, and, with that, appeasement is formally defeated. Erdogan is threatening counter moves, talks frequently with Putin, incites against the U.S. and Israel in his speeches, but he is the weak guy.

People can say whatever about the "thugish" approach of President Trump in conducting his foreign policy. A good question for media commentators, political scientists and historians to deal with. Hopefully they all understand that thugs deserve no better than being dealt with the language they understand.

Dr. Josef Olmert is currently a professor of political science and Middle East Studies at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Olmert got his BA and MA magna cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. Dr. Olmert is a native of Israel, where he taught at the Tel Aviv University, and fulfilled senior positions in the service of Likud governments, including dealing with senior American statesmen and diplomats. Dr. Olmert is the author of three books and numerous articles in academic magazines and media outlets all over the world. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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President Obama dealt with this situation as he dealt with other American foreign policy issues. He went to Turkey in the beginning of his first term and apologized.
erdogan, turkey, trump
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2018-10-14
Tuesday, 14 August 2018 05:10 PM
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