Friendly Fire: Sanctions Against an Ally

The United States government is contemplating furthering economic sanctions against Turkey over the capture of and refusal to release an American pastor, Andrew Brunson. What? Turkey? Is Turkey not a member of NATO? Oh yeah, but the United States runs the outdated alliance and determines what is and is not acceptable within it. Now the United States is taking punitive measures that will inevitably contribute towards the deterioration of Turkey’s economy and relations between the two countries.

How dare Turkey defy us? Do they know who we are? We have to get our way. If Turkey does not like this, it is too bad. Try making this sort of demand in any one of your friendships and see how well it goes over. Before making irrational moves over anger associated with Brunson’s imprisonment, perhaps we should wait to see what President Erdogan’s next move will be. Maybe he is just waiting for Thanksgiving to release Brunson so we can celebrate with two turkeys. Two is better than one after all.

Erdogan has suggested moving his country in a different direction in the international arena, perhaps towards Russia, and although this may be largely rhetoric, the fact remains that Turkey is now willing to stand up against U.S. demands. To us Americans viewing the world through the mainstream media, Turkey’s actions may seem defiant and harsh, but consider that Turkey is willing to hand Brunson over in exchange for Fethullah Gulen, a man who is suspected by the Turkish government as having played a large part in the 2016 coup attempt on Erdogan’s government, or the forgiveness of billions of dollars in fines imposed on Halkbank for its role in aiding Iran to get around U.S. sanctions imposed on that country. In addition to sanctions that were put on a few Turkish officials, the Trump administration has also doubled the steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, which will only contribute further to that country’s rapidly declining economy and currency.

Imposing sanctions against other countries is an act of economic war and bullying, and this is especially troubling being that Turkey is an ally of the United States. This could cause other U.S. allies to become wary of remaining in an alliance with a country that does not honor its deals. Just look at the Iran nuclear deal. Either way, making demands against a country is not a good diplomatic move, and as I have discussed previously, sanctions are usually detrimental to the people who are devastated by the lack of resources or income sources. The government that is being targeted often does not comply or change course, and sanctions often just strengthen hardliners and increase opposition to the United States.

Ultimately, NATO’s existence will not likely be threatened by the deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey. The American installations in that country are considered too vital to let Turkey leave the alliance, but this does give Turkey an opportunity to address its grievances with U.S. foreign policy.

It is likely that eventually the United States will get its way and Turkey will cave in, but consider the logic of the situation. The American government is willing to bully Turkey in order to force it to hand over Brunson, but yet, Turkey has a record of human rights violations. Why is it that this is hardly ever mentioned? Does it make sense to contribute towards the destruction of the Turkish economy over the imprisonment of one man? Yet, this type of action is not taken when Turkey commits atrocities against its own people. As I have argued previously, the United States does not care much about human rights violations when it occurs in countries that are allied with it, but it has a fit when those violations are committed by noncompliant countries. Something does not add up here. Perhaps the agenda is covert regime change, or perhaps President Trump really does just want to get Brunson back, or at least act like he is trying in order to avoid criticism. Maybe we really do value the livelihood of one American citizen over that of thousands or millions of the Turkish people. Either way, sanctions are an aggressive tactic that will lead to increased retaliatory actions by both NATO nations until something is worked out.

Thank you for reading, and if you would like to learn more about my work, please check out my book, The Global Bully, or my website.
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Published on August 23, 2018 03:11
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