Small Wars Journal

Turkey: Ally or Albatross?

Sun, 05/21/2017 - 12:23pm

Turkey: Ally or Albatross?

G. Murphy Donovan

In April, I wrote a piece for the Small Wars Journal, “Why We Lose,” that recommended some new initiatives that might change the vectors of foreign policy under the Trump administration. The principal recommendation for NATO reform was to expel Turkey, recognize Kurdistan, and end Ankara’s pipe dream of accession to the European Union. Reform in Brussels is more pressing than any expansion of NATO, or the EU, for reasons that should be obvious by now.

Open door policies, sponsored by Germany, have proved to be cultural and security disasters for Europe. A closer embrace of Turkey can only accelerate pernicious migration, the spread of terror, and the Islamization of Europe. 

The argument against Turkey is clear enough. Plainly put, Erdogan’s Turkey is not Ataturk’s Turkey. Like Iran, Turkish politicians have cast their lot with religious zealots, not secular freedom. The moral and political tenants of European secular democracies and so-called “democratic” Islamic theocracies are fundamentally irreconcilable. Regimes run by priests or religious political parties are a threat to global and domestic comity.

Instability in the Levant was guaranteed when two formerly secular governments in Teheran and Ankara succumbed to their worst religious instincts. The religious revolution in Shia Iran (1979), not the secular Sunni “Arab Spring,” was probably the turning point of modern Ummah history. Unfortunately, the turn was a quick march to the rear.

Theocracy is the default setting for failed Muslim states these days. The historical and long festering Sunni/Shia divide is also institutionalized now in several nation states with formidable conventional and nuclear capabilities.

The Islam bomb that arrived through the back door in Sunni Pakistan is now knocking on the front door in Shia Iran. Given the respective religious demographics, the only way that the Shia can level the sectarian playing field is to acquire the bomb. When Iran goes nuclear, the pressure on neighboring majority Sunni states will be immense, starting with Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Erdogan has systematically purged and proscribed any meaningful opposition including the military, Gulenists, and all Kurdish political parties. These depredations are the toxic icing on a history and tradition of political repression and denial that includes the Armenian genocide.

Holocaust denial alone should disqualify any Islamic nation, like Turkey, from membership in any transnational forum, especially military alliances with the democratic West.

A realistic threat appraisal of Turkey today would see Erdogan’s Ankara as an Islamic Trojan Horse. Turkey has been moving back not forward since Erdogan’s accession. Secular democracy is not trending in either the Shia or Sunni worlds.  

I received a very thoughtful response to my original SWJ argument about Turkey from a former National Security Agency colleague which is reproduced here verbatim. 

“Turkey has an imperial history of strong-armed leadership stretching back centuries. It’s their way, but I think we should be able to deal with it. As far as their role in NATO, I see some important positives for retaining Turkey that seem to get overlooked;

1. Turkey enforces the Montreux Convention (something in which the US was too blind to participate) which critically hampers the Russian Black Sea Fleet from establishing and maintaining any SLOCs in the Med. Fifty-sixty years ago, the Soviets tried to maintain ports in Tartus (Syria), Aden (Yemen) and Dahlak Islands (was Ethiopia now Eritrea) but failed. They could not sustain any meaningful assistance to their clients even with using aviation assets to augment support. It’s just too hard to do with the Turkish Bosporus and Montreux constricting ship movements.

2. Turkish SIGINT sites (some of which were once ours before NSA scaled back) provide NATO intelligence collection on the region, e.g., ISIS, Iran, Iraq, and including looking into the interior of Russia (e.g., think intel on CENTER-2015, the largest Russian field exercise since ZAPAD-81). As sexy as satellite intelligence collection may be, there are still some unique abilities from ground sites that make them valuable.

3. Turkish missile radar sites in Eastern Turkey near the Iranian border are the only regional sites that provide early warning of Iranian missile launches; and this supports Israel as well as NATO.

4. The Turks are building a new passage around Istanbul which will allow for LNG to pass into the Black Sea to the Ukrainian re-gasification facilities being constructed at Yuzhnyi (Odessa region). This is an energy development of a strategic nature for the Black Sea economies (Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine).”

Each of the above arguments for alliance with Turkey is valid if America was at, or about to go to, war with Russia or Iran. Turkey was an asset in the Cold War. She is less of an asset, more of a liability, in the hot war with various Sunni factions. Turkey now literally blackmails the EU with threats of increased Islamic migrants and embedded terrorists. 

The idea that Brussels should treat Turkey like any other EU applicant was always a stretch. NATO accession was a mistake, a dangerous gamble at best and now a threat realized. Given a choice between democratic norms and Islamic recidivism, Turkey has voted for the later.

The argument for Turkey as an ally comes down to base rights today, a tactical consideration at best in the era of near-earth surveillance.  Still, an artifact of the Cold War now plays obstructionist in America’s many hot wars.

Turkey works both sides of the small wars street. Ankara facilitates the movement of terrorists in and out of the Levant. Turkey also enables the financing of global ISIS with a black market oil racket that involves Erdogan family members. Ankara also runs military operations against the Kurds inside of Turkey and across borders in Iraq and Syria. None of this bodes well for peace in the Middle East any time soon.

Throughout, America seeks leverage by playing both ends against the middle of Shia/Sunni divide, attempting to placate Persia, Turkey, and Arabia. Erdogan was feted in Washington recently.

The lynchpin for any new thinking about the Levant may be Kurdistan. In the entire Muslim world, the Kurds come as close to enlightened civility as any. Indeed, women have equal rights across the board and, unlike most of the Islamic world; other religions are treated with dignity and respect. Surely, Kurdish fighters have done more to rescue Christians from modern Sunni depredations than the Vatican or any so-called Christian nation in the West.

Historically, American policy towards the Kurds is laundered in a Turkish bazaar. We dare not offend the Ottomans. Every US administration pays lip service to Kurdish heroism but does little to reward their fealty.

After WWI, the Kurdish nation was recognized by the Treaty of Sevres (1920) and then the rug was pulled from beneath statehood by Turkish obstructionists in 1923. More recently, Kurd political parties and freedom fighters were added to American terror list to placate Ankara. The truth about Kurdish fighters is that they only pose a threat to duplicitous Turks and genocidal Sunnis like ISIS.

If a new day is ever to begin with Islam, Kurdistan might be the light at the end of that tunnel. America could put a shot across the Islamist bow by striking the Kurds from the US State Department’s terror list and treating Kurdistan like the nation it should become.

Reform is only tonic that will refresh Islam. Let it begin with secular Islam, the Kurdish enlightenment.

About the Author(s)

The author is a former USAF Intelligence officer, Vietnam veteran, a graduate of Iona College (BA), the University of Southern California (MS), the Defense Intelligence College, and the Air War College. He is a former Senior USAF Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica and the former Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies, ACS Intelligence, HQ USAF, serving under General James Clapper. Colonel Donovan has served at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Central intelligence Agency.



You do realize that the only people who lend the term “alt right” any credence are those that use it to smear others, no?

When I referenced the Turkish underclass in Germany, I am clearly not referring to the migrants of 2014 to present, or even necessarily foreign-born German residents or citizens (accounting for Germany’s “jus sanguinis” citizenship policy). As for the more recent migratory flows, roughly half are welfare migrants not refugees. Given that Iraqi courts in Mosul have been unable to effectively prosecute former Daesh members who have blended into the local population, and that no such courts even exist in Syria, how can there be any filtering out of war criminals, terrorists and their fellow travelers? Whereas the refugees that Canada accepted have at least been vetted by the UNHCR, as well as those previously destined for the U.S., in Europe it is a true melee open to anyone with EUR 5,000 to 10,000.

It is clear that you have no quarrel with Turkish intelligence or paramilitaries operating in Germany, only the PKK. Although the PKK has committed terrorism and other acts of political violence, these are dwarfed by the terrorism meted out by the Turkish state. I have less sympathy for the PIRA than the PKK, because although the devolved statelet in Northern Ireland was a sectarian supremacist state, the British state was not. In addition, the PIRA prolonged the conflict in order to pursue its own supremacist aims, which would see the Protestants become a besieged minority in a united Ireland. In contrast, the Turkish state behaves no differently than the Northern Ireland Loyalist/Unionist one did. Whereas a Northern Irish Catholic could appeal to the sense of fair play of the British Army – as opposed to the RUC and UDR with their overlapping UDA/UVF membership – there is no such channel for the Kurds in Turkey. Unfortunately, the instruments of communal violence lend themselves to corruption and crime as they become embedded in society, and this is true for both sides. Today, the paramilitaries of Northern Ireland are simple mafias trafficking in narcotics and prostitutes.

As for the recent atrocity in Manchester, I am unsurprised that the perpetrator was a British-born Muslim. Yet this fact cannot help your case for admitting more Muslim migrants. Rather, it suggests that their children will lash out a generation after they are settled: “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” When Merkel’s experiment explodes in the faces of ordinary German in 20-25 years hence (those little folk meant to carry out her vision), will she be prized out of her gated community and made to acknowledge her grave error?

As regards your “EU Army”, it will scare many EU member states that Germany is its leader. Moreover, it is merely a recombination of dwindling and less-than-ready assets.

GEN Dunford, our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appears to embrace a "four-plus-one" model re: the current and future conflict environment:


The chairman discussed the “four-plus-one” model the department uses to look at future capabilities. The “four” are Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. The “one” is the threat of violent extremism. He said it is a “useful framework to inform our planning, our capability development and our assessment of operational and strategic risk.”


For the sake of argument, let us consider that this "four-plus-one" framework (a) aligns with my "one war" concept noted in my comments below (wherein, the U.S./the West is in "expansion" mode today, and the "four-plus-one" group - they are in "obstructionist"/"containment"/"roll back" mode now), (b) the type of enemies that the U.S./the West expects to encounter as per this "one war"/"four-plus-one" enemies model (both state and non-state actors), (c) the primary method that these "four-plus-one" enemies are using/are likely to use against us in this "one war" (unconventional warfare) and, finally, (d) the common desire and focus of these "four-plus-one" enemies (to contain and roll back already realized, or potential, U.S./Western political, economic, social and value encroachment into their countries, their periphery, their regions and their spheres of influence).

In this regard, and using Russia only in the example provided below, consider the following recent analysis from our special operations community:

" ... Western encroachment into the Russian sphere of influence, primarily through North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion and European Union (EU) economic ties, stimulated a reactionary movement among Russian conservatives to stop the loss of peripheral states to the West. ... The Maidan movement is viewed as a product of Western—especially American—conspiracy. ..."

"Driven by a desire to roll back Western encroachment into the Russian sphere of influence, the current generation of Russian leaders has crafted a multidisciplinary art and science of unconventional warfare. Capitalizing on deception, psychological manipulation, and domination of the information domain, their approach represents a notable threat to Western security." (As per the two quoted items immediately above, see the Executive Summary and, therein respectively, "The Historical Context," on Page 2, and "The Conclusion," on Page 3.)

Bottom Line Question Based On The Above:

As per the "one war"/"four-plus-one" enemies strategic context outlined above, how do we see Turkey -- and indeed the Kurds -- today:

a. As ally?

b. As albatross? Or

c. As something else?

Final Question:

Reflecting now on our author's (COL Donovan's) referenced item in his first paragraph above -- to wit: the notation of "why we lose" -- in the "one war"/"four-plus-one" enemies (Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea plus the violent extremists) strategic context provided above, what would "losing" (for the expansionist U.S./the West) look like? And, indeed, what would "winning" (for our "obstructionist"/"containment"/ "roll back" "four-plus-one" enemies) look like also? (Thus, again to ask, in this exact such strategic context, how do we see Turkey, the Kurds, et al.?)

Outlaw 09

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 4:03am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Ever notice in the US just how when an attack occurs the discussions go straight to those "evil 2M" refugees allowed into EU...BUT in this case I am betting that it is a UK citizen not a refugee that is behind this attack....only a hand full of the recent attacks have come from this so called 2M refugees....actually a number of those that have come recently have been suddenly arrested when they were planning attacks as tips came from those "2M refugees themselves"....

CNN guest immediately links Manchester explosion to "the two plus million refugees that have come into Europe"

Would like for Americans to look up the number of attacks and the number of those killed in Europe during the wild West terrorist days of the 60s thru 80s and that includes the well.

The attack numbers and those killed were far higher than what occurs now....Europe got through it then and will get through it now....

As we mourn Manchester, remember: for a moment of ignorant boasting for the Russians, Trump betrayed one of the West’s best sources inside IS.

NOW Putins propaganda and favorite topic kicks in....exactly what he means by double standards is new though....

Kremlin blames western "double standards" for the #Manchester attack,says Putin's "common front vs terrorism" must be established.

BUT WAIT his actions inside Syria are just creating more hatred and fuels IS recruitment does it not?????

Outlaw 09

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 3:14am are tending lately to rant rave using alt right arguments referencing refugees....

Germany is doing fine the last time I checked which was about 5 minutes ago...

I am not worried about MIT or Turkish dual passport holders as I live in a Berlin district that is multi cultural....Kreuzberg and I can walk the streets at 0400 in the morning and never get robbed and are attacked..MJ purchasing though is a distinct much for those murdering, raping and stealing refugees who are living off Germans.....

And the Turkish food stores in this area have some of the best quality fruits and vegetables far better than German stores and every day there is a line of tourists at a particular Kebab place that takes two hours to just get to the window to order....

So we are doing fine.....

BUT back though to this particular writer who in a recent article of his literally bashed Germany......

Take notice....this has been quietly ongoing for several years now and this concept is being exercised now in the Baltics...who needs a large standing army when one can integrate Brigades...sounds like a novel idea right???

Germany Is Quietly Building a European Army Under Its Command
Berlin is using a bland name to obscure a dramatic shift in its approach to defense: integrating brigades from smaller countries into the Bundeswehr…

Merkel fully understands Trump and his while nationalist advisors are seriously attempting to destroy NATO-EU and this is the German French answer to that move.

BTW ties into a fund that EU setup to do just this ......and many in the EU have pushed for a EU Army for awhile especially since several EU members have military units in Africa which are not tied to UN or NATO or US efforts....

Again Germany is doing just need to accept that Trump is on his way out for his Russian collusion.....

AND that articles like this are contributing nothing to the ongoing Turkish Kurdish issues WHERE the US is openly supporting a Kurdish Communist US named terrorist group PKK against a US ally of 65 years....

THAT should have been the discussion here WHICH the writer totally missed....

BUT WAIT that discussion took place on the Syrian thread and he did not even post comments there the last time I checked....there was more than enough there for him to dive into.....


Mon, 05/22/2017 - 8:21pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C.:

Perhaps your theory is obvious to a person with a poor grasp of history, but not to me.

Firstly, not all expansions are equal. Are you honestly comparing the less-than-popular expansion of Communism in the 1940s and 1950s driven by the Red Army, NKVD and mass murder, with the peaceful and popular turns to liberal democracy in South Korea, Taiwan, East-Central Europe and South America in the 1980s and 1990s?

Secondly, Russia had a very brief flirtation with liberal democracy before turning to authoritarian nationalism under Yeltsin, albeit with a very weak and corrupt state that Putin would later strengthen. Yeltsin’s war against the Duma and against Chechnya were more destructive than anything the Soviet Union had meted out against its own citizens since Stalin’s time. All of the interventions in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Belarus were all set in motion by Yeltsin, even if Putin exacerbated them.

Bill C.

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 6:42pm

In reply to by Azor


The New/Reverse Cold War concept is so obvious, and so easy to understand, that a "published thesis" would not seem to be necessary.

The main components of this concept, after all, are only that the U.S./the West is now in "expansionist" mode (rather than in "obstructionist" mode as we were back-in-the-day), herein, (a) attempting to advance market-democracy (this, rather than to contain and/or roll back communism as was our focus during the Old Cold War), (b) work with the more-liberal, the more-pro-change, the more-progressive elements of populations of the world (this, much as we logically worked, to contain and roll back communism, with the more-conservative, the more-no-change, the status quo-anti elements of the world's populations in the last half of the 20th Century) and herein (c) finding ourselves today (much as the Soviets/the communists found themselves back then) confronted by both state and non-state actors opponents (who were/are apt, then as now, to use UW, etc., to thwart one's expansionist efforts and designs).

Re: our similar-to-the Soviets/the communists "expansionist" agenda and related efforts today, certain of our opponents -- for obvious reasons -- have adopted our Old Cold War "obstructionist" mode, our related "containment and roll back" strategies, our -- necessary in this regard -- "appeal to conservative peoples and causes" approach and our UW, etc., methods; this, to help "bring down" the United States/the West. (This, much as our such efforts and approaches were thought to have ultimately helped "bring down" the former Soviet Union cir. 1990.)

Of course, with the election of President Trump, it appears that our opponents in this New/Reverse Cold War (much like we opponents of the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War) may have been successful in their recent "obstructionist" efforts. And, accordingly, our New/Reverse Cold War may now be over.

At the end of the Old Cold War, this measure of defeat/end of the Old Cold War was confirmed when the Soviets/the communists moved more in the direction of (to wit: attempted to "mimic") the market-democracy West.

If the U.S./the West now comes to move more in the direction of/attempts to "mimic" or embrace our more-authoritarian/market-democracy backsliding opponents, then will this not confirm -- much as in the Old Cold War case noted above -- that (a) the New/Reverse Cold War indeed has now come to an end and that (b) the U.S./the West, and re: its expansionist agenda, has indeed now been defeated?

Thus, to suggest that (more-authoritarian/market-democracy backsliding?) Turkey (et al.?) can be looked at in one of two ways:

a. In the light of a continuation of the New/Reverse Cold War -- as I suggest below. Or.

b. As per the defeat of the U.S./the West, and our expansionist agenda, and, thus, as per the end of the New/Reverse Cold War -- as I have outlined immediately above.

Bill C.,

Perhaps instead of endlessly repeating your claim about a “New/Reverse Cold War”, you should write a thesis and submit it to SWJ.

Within Islamism, Al Qaeda’s emphasis on leading a united Muslim front against non-Muslim adversaries made it an outlier. In the main, Islamists spend the vast majority of their resources in wars against fellow Muslims, who are deemed to be apostates or heretics. Not unlike with Stalinists, the Islamists’ war is against internal enemies rather than external ones. We in the West may focus solely on Islamist terrorism for obvious reasons, but these atrocities are mere spillover from intra-Muslim violence. Another comparison could be made to African Americans and homicide: although interracial homicides garner media and political attention in the U.S., the overwhelming majority of homicidal violence is black-on-back or intraracial. The rise of Takfiri-Salafi-Jihadis has more to do with filling the vacuum left by the failure of nationalism, especially Arab Nationalism, than it does with any resistance to “market democracy”, which is virtually non-existent in their societies.

NATO has made some provocative errors, such as becoming a temporarily offensive military alliance in the former Yugoslavia and in Libya. However, that aside, it is a defensive military alliance that adheres to the CFE, INF and (New) START Treaties with Russia. The BMD/EPAA issue is more complex as on the one hand, there are some legitimate fears that it could in the future whittle down some of Russia’s nuclear deterrent; on the other, despite withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the U.S. has not established a SDI-type missile shield in the CONUS and has progressively backed away from tactical nuclear weapons. Arguably BMD/EPAA in Central Europe could be considered a justifiable countermeasure to Russia’s increasing reliance upon and advancement of tactical nuclear weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles (Outlaw will probably agree here).

Yet Russia has invaded Georgia, invaded Ukraine, violated the Budapest Agreement, violated the CFE Treaty, annexed parts of Ukraine and Georgia, maintained its occupation of parts of Moldova and probably violated the INF Treaty as well. So who, exactly, is “backsliding”? Hmm?

From COL Donovan's article above:


Each of the above arguments for alliance with Turkey is valid if America was at, or about to go to, war with Russia or Iran. Turkey was an asset in the Cold War. She is less of an asset, more of a liability, in the hot war with various Sunni factions.


What is obvious here is that COL Donovan does not seem to understand that the U.S./the West is indeed "at war" (in the New/Reverse Cold War sense) with such great nations as Russia, China and Iran today.


a. The U.S./the West today seeking to "advance market-democracy" throughout the world; whereas,

b. Such nations as Russia, China and Iran today -- and indeed such non-state actors as the Islamists also -- seek to prevent this from happening; especially in their own countries, in their own regions/periphery and in their own countries' sphere of influence.

In a single, all-encompassing "war" such as this (see the Old Cold War), it is common, natural, normal and routine for the great nation(s) attempting to promote its/their often alien and profane ideology to have:

a. BOTH state actor and non-state actor opponents/enemies. And also to be engaged in

b. BOTH "hot" and "cold" wars.

Turkey and its relationship to NATO, etc., thus today, must be seen and understood exactly in this New/Reverse Cold War/single all-encompassing war context.

A context which does not distinguish so much between one's "cold" (and often state) and "hot" (and often non-state or proxy) opponents.

But, rather, distinguishes only between whether you are, for example, "with us" or "against us" re: our goal of advancing market-democracy throughout the world.

It is in this exact such context, I suggest, that we must ask ourselves whether:

a. Turkey is an ally of the U.S./the West today? Or whether

b. Turkey now must be seen in some other way; for example, as a liability, a traitor, an enemy and, thus, as a Trojan Horse within our gates?

To Col. Donovan - Part Deux,

I disagree that for the moment, there are compelling reasons to expel Turkey from NATO or to recognize “Kurdistan”.

As regards Turkey’s membership in NATO, there is no “blank check” from NATO to Turkey, as the latter’s adventures abroad do not come under the aegis of Article V. For instance, were Turkey to attack Russian forces in Syria and a Russo-Turkish war spills over into Turkey, would the Alliance consider a Turkish invocation of Article V to be eligible according to the North Atlantic Treaty? Even if considered eligible, it is doubtful that the response would be full-throated. As for EU membership, I do not see any reasonable probability of Turkey joining the EU, particularly as Erdogan is deliberately ignoring the EU’s criteria as he presses ahead with his coronation as Sultan.

Which “Kurdistan” would be recognized? The KAR in Iraq? “Rojava” in Syria? Both? What of the Kurdish regions in Iran and Turkey? Any of these options guarantee hostile relations if not hostilities with one or more of Ankara, Baghdad, Damascus and Teheran. What of the PYD’s “democratic centralism” in Syria, its rivalry with the KRG, and the inability of Syrian and Iraqi Kurds to form a contiguous state? At present, I do not see recognition of any Kurdistan doing any good.

The turn to Islamism of the Iranians and the Turks were decisive events for the Middle East, but what about the ascendancy of Takfiri-Salafism among the Arabs? I would argue that it was precisely the defeat of Arab Nationalism by Israel, with the coup de grace delivered by the United States, that created an ideological vacuum which the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Daesh et al could fill.

You are absolutely correct that the Iranian drive for a nuclear deterrent was driven more by Iraq and Pakistan, than by designs on Israel. In addition, it is clear that Turkish disdain for human rights has gone unreconstructed, and Turkish historic and contemporary crimes are not even publicly acknowledged, let alone put to any public commission or inquiry.

Your former NSA colleague is correct on the benefits that Turkey brings to the Alliance. Turkey does “play both sides” in Syria, but it also does the most objective good by supporting moderate/secular rebels, providing the most humanitarian aid and hosting the most refugees.


Mon, 05/22/2017 - 5:13am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Only one reply to this article? I'm surprised.

So because four authoritarian, ethnocentrist and sectarian governments are opposed to Kurdish sovereignty, the Kurds should settle for "affirmative action"?

You accuse the PKK of terrorism within Germany but ignore the hundreds of MIT officers and tens of thousands of MIT informers and Grey Wolves members residing in Germany. No German I know believes that this underclass is a net benefit, so perhaps Erdogan can invite them back, settle them in southeast Turkey and hold as many referenda as he pleases, no?

NATO's southern flank will be just fine, thank you. Who needs Greece when you have Poseidon lurking beneath the waves with his Trident II?

You're welcome to setup a special fund or host migrants, by the way, in the spirit of Trans-Atlantic harmony...

Outlaw 09

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 2:08am

In reply to by Azor

Disagree completely with this rant of an article....completely reflects ideas and thoughts that have no touch to "ground reality" as much does that comes out of either DC or the US lately and in in general.

An independent Kurdistan has been the bain of the core problem in this border region since the Ottoman Empire....and right now from someone sitting in Berlin with the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey and often talking with their moderate elements most of the ME bordering nation states do not want an independent Kurdistan....Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey are in this single point on the same sheet of music....

The Turkish Kurdish HDH party had completely distanced itself from the PKK and YPG and was addressing the needs of the Kurds inside Turkey...language in the schools and cultural aspects as well as attempting to get more Kurds into the government agencies as an influencing factor not previously there...

Secondly, if one really looks right now at Erdogan he is attempting to Turkey into a Islamic State not the secular state that was the inspiration of many in the ME....if one looks at the last fully legal and somewhat fair election the HDH actually Kurdish won a strong position in those elections and together with the moderate parties were able to fully and democratically block Erdogan's plans....then suddenly we get a series of so called PKK attacks and suddenly the "Gulen coup" which was not a real coup and the HDH leaders are arrested...and the AKP now totally rules with Erdogan a single autocratic it an ultra right wing religious coup if ones likes...driven by AKP and Grey Wolf....

Thirdly, the EU accession talks were going well with Turkey fulfilling 18 out of 21 points to including dropping the death sentence.....and there is nothing wrong with Turkey joining the EU as many Turkish citizens are already living within EU borders and the EU and Turkey have a number of trade association agreements in place.

Fourthly even in the just held referendum Erdogan roundly lost it if he had not literally "stuffed the ballot boxes" at the last moment....

WHEN a majority still favors a secular Muslim state and ties to the EU and simply do not toss them out.....

Let's not even get into how much NATO needs them on the southern flank which the author fails to mention WHO is to replace them...surely he cannot think the Greek military can???

If you noticed lately Erdogan has backed off the death sentence reinstatement because Germany and the EU threatened Erdogan to not allow such a referendum to occur inside EU borders which would have denied him a voting he has always relied on the out of Turkey conservative votes that he does not have in the large Turkish cities...

Erdogan has "also realized" the economic loses to Turkey if the EU gets serious about tossing him out as it is EU money that is keeping him afloat right now as the economy is not performing like many Turks want and they blame Erdogan for that....Russia cannot economically support him if he turns that it is having a hard enough time even supporting Crimea...and eastern Ukraine and Syria....

So before one goes swinging massive "theories" learn to read the "ground reality"....the author fully understands the term..."intelligence preparation of the battlefield"...nothing more than "seeing and understanding" the "ground reality"...then and only then state a course of action.

It is not everyday that I find myself agreeing with Col. Donovan, let alone to such a wide degree.

I will say that there comes a point at which preserving partnerships can cost more than the net gains of those partnerships. These relationships are tended to more out of fear of losing the partner to a rival or adversary than because of any net gains.

In the case of Turkey, it is far less strategic real estate now then it was in prior decades.

I will caution Col. Donovan about putting too much faith in the Kurds. Neither the Arabs, Persians, Turks nor Pashtuns of any sect will take socio-political or religious guidance from the Kurds. Appointing them as a vanguard of Islamic reform will only exacerbate an existing ethnic conflict, to say nothing of the sectarian ones.

The only solution to Sunni Arab supremacism is Sunni Arabs themselves.

Of course the Kurds will put their best foot forward and try to be indispensable to the U.S. Remember the pro-Western "freedom fighters" of the KLA?

The central overall problem here is that we do not seem to see our "cold" conflicts today (with the Russians, the Chinese, etc.) -- and our "hot" conflicts also (with the Islamist, etc.) -- as part and parcel of the same, single "war," to wit: the war to advance market-democracy.

(This, much as the Soviets/the communists back-in-the-day saw their "cold" conflicts with the U.S./the West, etc., back then -- and their "hot" conflicts with the Islamists, etc., also -- as all being part and parcel of the same, single "war;" in their case, the war to advance communism.)

Given the overall slant of my argument here, to wit: that the U.S./the West today is, much as the Soviets/the communists during the Old Cold War were, in "expansionist" mode,

Then to ask, based on this comparison, what the Soviets/the communists -- in Old Cold War days -- would have done if they had encountered a Warsaw Pact state that appeared to be (a) "backsliding" and/or (b) "hedging its bets?"

(That is: moving away from political, economic, social and/or value communism and moving toward the way of life, the way of governance and/or the values, etc., of its [the Soviet's/the communists'] sworn state or non-state enemies.)

This ("backsliding"/"hedging its bets"), after all, appears to be what our NATO ally Turkey is doing today?