Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake

Read the companion piece to this one: Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO

First, the obvious; there is no mechanism in the North Atlantic Treaty to remove a member without their consent.

The only conceivable workaround is for the other twenty seven member states to deposit their intent to leave the Alliance in Washington D.C., and then form a new Alliance. However, this “solution” has problems.

The credibility of the alliance would be compromised. Public’s on both sides of the Atlantic are growing ambivalent to collective security.

Collapsing and reforming the alliance to exclude one of the oldest and most strategically relevant will inspire a lack of confidence in collective security. The whole house of cards comes crashing down.

Read More: 10 Days In Turkey: An American Student Comes Face To Face With The Islamic Crisis Of Modernity

For the sake of argument, let’s say that excluding Turkey is possible, and won’t create a tremendous credibility gap; NATO would still be shooting itself in the foot in terms of its deterrence value.

Even ignoring that Turkey has the second largest military in NATO, its geographic position is invaluable in deterring Russian aggression against the alliance, and negating the Black Sea Fleet.

The Black Sea Fleet, recently reinforced by ships stolen from the Ukrainian Navy, would be free to do as it pleases, were it not for the Bosporus and Dardanelles, which act as a tremendous nautical choke point.

The Bosporus Bridge. Photo Credit: Güldem Üstün/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

The Bosporus Bridge. Photo Credit: Güldem Üstün/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This severely limits the ability of the Russians to act aggressively in the Mediterranean, as they must utilize this passage.

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Turkey is a guarantor of good behavior on behalf of the Russians in NATO’s southern flank, and gives the alliance a second front to project over the Black Sea.

If Turkey is so important, why would anyone want to be rid of it?

A reasonable criticism is that Turkey is increasingly undemocratic due to President Erdoğan, among other things, silences media at home and abroad, and continues to deny the genocide in Armenia.

Photo Credit: Hyeong Seok Kim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Hyeong Seok Kim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

While these instances are wholly undemocratic, and contrary to the democratic ethos of the Atlantic Alliance, it would not be the first time an alliance member was behaving badly.

Both the United States and Belgium, for instance, fueled the Congo Crisis of the early 1960s, leading to the deaths of about 100,000 people.

The British and the French attempted to seize the Sinai Peninsula in a shameless imperialist land grab in 1956. Poland’s ruling party is also curtailing democracy in much the same way Erdoğan has.

Yet all of these parties remain in the alliance.

Instead of ostracizing an old and strategically invaluable friend, utilizing the existing alliance architecture to influence Turkey back onto the path of liberalism is the far more reasonable reaction.

Read the companion piece to this one: Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO

Do you with agree with this view? Give us your take in the comments below. 

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Cover Photo Credit: ResoluteSupportMedia/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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About the Author
"John Massey has a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Alabama. His primary interest is in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but he also finds time to study French and political theory. "

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