Turkey is acting like a "fair weather friend" in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), but the United States should pressure them to fulfill their obligations under NATO to work with the coalition battling the Islamic terrorists, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Turkey has not engaged ISIS forces, even though they threaten to overtake the city of Kobani along their border with Syria. Chertoff said it was important for the U.S. to "exert the maximum diplomatic pressure," rather than allow Turkey to dictate the parameters of their involvement.
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"This is the equivalent of a fair weather friend. It's pretty clear that what Turkey is doing is trying to leverage their strategic position to force us to do things that they think are more important," Chertoff said Thursday. "Turkey is a NATO country, and I think we ought to hold them to their obligations under NATO to cooperate with us."
Chertoff, who served under former President George W. Bush, said Turkey was more interested in going after Syrian President Bashar Assad, and said if they were not willing to fight the Islamic State, the U.S. would "have to start to look again at whether, at least, some ground elements have to go into the theater."
The most direct threat to the U.S. from the Islamic State was from Americans traveling to Iraq and Syria and returning "to carry on the fight here," Chertoff said, adding there was also the possibility of people who get "radicalized over the Internet trying to carry out the kinds of attacks that they see on television, like a beheading."
Nevertheless, Chertoff said measures that officials have put in place in the U.S., specifically in New York City, should offer protections against an attack.
"We've done an awful lot in the last dozen years to really increase our defenses. And New York City has put in place a very robust intelligence capability and a really strong counterterrorism capability," he said.
In addition to the fight against ISIS, Chertoff said the administration's response to the threat of Ebola and problems with the Secret Service has been "uneven," though he had praise for Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
"The challenge of communicating to the public is you've got to be accurate, and you've also got to be out there and clear and explanatory," he said. "I think Secretary Johnson did a good job on some of the media."
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