A Modest Proposal

First of all, I must emphasize that I have no input to the transition team that is advising President-elect Donald Trump on his cabinet picks and other executive appointments. Nor do I know anyone who has input to the transition team. My ramblings here are simply a way to entertain myself and our readers while we wait to see the rest of the incoming Trump administration take shape in the weeks ahead.

As of today, I don’t have serious issues with any of Mr. Trump’s announced choices. If the opinions about Turkey held by retired U.S. Army General Michael Flynn are the worst problem we have to face in the new administration, I’d say we’ve gotten off lightly — especially when we compare the newcomers to their Obamanoid predecessors, who are even now shuffling off into the dumpster of history.

But just for the fun of it, let’s take a look at what Gen. Flynn said about Turkey shortly after the election (emphasis added):

Turkey should by a top priority in U.S. foreign policy, a top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday in an article that slammed Barack Obama for failing to understand Ankara’s geopolitical position.

“We must begin with understanding that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests,” retired Gen. Michael Flynn wrote for the Hill newspaper. He also called Turkey “a source of stability in the region”.

Flynn was a key national security adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign and is expected by many to be appointed to a Cabinet position, possibly as defense secretary.

The veteran general wrote that it was “an unwise policy” for the Obama administration to keep Ankara at arm’s length,

“We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective,” he wrote.

Noting the extradition request by Turkey of Fetullah Terrorist Organization leader, Fetullah Gulen, as one of the key points of contention between Washington and Ankara, Flynn suggested the U.S. handover Gulen.

Ankara has asked Washington to extradite Gulen for his role in establishing a quasi-state within Turkey that led a failed bloody coup July 15.

“What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?” Flynn asked.

The former chair of the Defense Intelligence Agency suggested that although Gulen presents himself as a moderate Islamic scholar, he is a radical who “has publicly boasted about his ‘soldiers’ waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do.”

Flynn compared Gulen to Ayatollah Khomeini — the leader of the Iranian revolution — urging the U.S. government not to repeat its mistake by supporting Gulen as it did Khomeini.

“Washington’s silence on this explosive topic speaks volumes when we hear the incredulous [sic — he meant to say ‘incredible’] claim that the democratically elected president of Turkey staged a military coup, bombed his own parliament and undermined the confidence in Turkey’s strong economy, just so that he could purge his political opponents,” he added.

Actually, I don’t find it all that incredible that Mr. Erdogan arranged for the ludicrous “coup” against himself. Events of that sort are not historically unprecedented. Does the general think that the lunatic Dutchman Marinus van der Lubbe just happened to think of setting fire to the Reichstag at exactly the most propitious moment for the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler?

But leave that aside for now — let’s think about Turkey as a “source of stability in the region”. Such has been the fetish of America’s foreign policy boffins for the past seventy years or so — until Barack Hussein Obama and the geniuses at the State Department decided to try the opposite strategy, and topple every Sunni despot in the Middle East, thereby midwifing the creation of the Islamic State.

It’s important to remember that stability is not an end in itself. A stable authoritarian or dictatorial regime can indeed be useful, provided that it serves American interests. I’m not entirely certain that a stable Turkey ruled by a ruthless Islamic zealot serves American interests. This is a topic that should be carefully and prudently examined before making any decisions about the disposition of Fethullah Gülen.

As much as I would like to see Mr. Gülen consigned to an oubliette in Ankara, it must be emphasized that he is neither more nor less of an “Islamist” than is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two men hold similar ideological positions vis-à-vis Islam and political power, and are simply rivals vying for control of the Turkish state.

For that reason, a prudent executive would forgo returning Fethullah Gülen to the Middle East except as part of a “Finland Station” operation.

The reference is to the book To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson, and to the arrival of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, a.k.a. Lenin, at the Finland Station in Petrograd in April of 1917. Before I explain my proposal, a brief detour into the history of the Bolshevik Revolution is in order.

Conditions on the Eastern Front during the Great War caused unrest and mutiny among the military forces of Czarist Russia. Privation and suffering on the home front enabled the unrest to spread among the civilian population in Petrograd, Moscow, and other Russian cities. Popular discontent eventually forced the Czar to abdicate, and after the revolution of February 1917 a Provisional Government was established under the leadership of the revolutionary socialist Alexander Kerensky. However, the new government was committed to continuing the war against the Central Powers.

Kerensky was considered far too “bourgeois” by the hardcore Bolsheviks. Lenin, who had been trapped in exile by the outbreak of the war, fretted from Switzerland at his inability to affect the course of events in Russia. How could he possibly overthrow that milksop Kerensky from Zurich?

The moment was a hinge-point of history. Lenin’s interests happened to coincide with those of the Imperial German General Staff, and he entered into negotiations with the latter to arrange his return to Russia. He and a select group of his comrades were eventually transported in a sealed railway carriage across Germany to the Baltic, across the Baltic to Sweden, and from Sweden through Finland to Russia. Lenin arrived at the Finland Station in Petrograd in April of 2017, and immediately applied his revolutionary genius to the seizure of power from Kerensky and the Provisional Government. His intelligence and ruthlessness powered the October Revolution, in which a small minority of Bolshevik revolutionaries was able to wrest control from Kerensky and establish the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

It was an article of faith among the Bolsheviks that Europe, and indeed the entire world, was about to erupt in a spontaneous proletarian revolution against the imperialistic oppression of capitalism. Therefore there was no need for the new Soviet regime to continue the war, which was an unnecessary imperialist relic. The new government immediately called for peace negotiations with the Germans. An armistice was declared, and representatives of both sides — Germans, Austrians, and Turks for the Central Powers, Bolsheviks for the Russians — met to discuss terms.

The terms offered by the Germans were particularly harsh. Lenin wanted to accept them — he was certain that world revolution was imminent — but a majority of the Central Committee disagreed. Eventually Trotsky told the Germans that the Soviets were declaring a unilateral peace, with no territorial changes, and returned home.

The Germans took the opportunity to revoke the armistice, and launched a major military assault on the demoralized Russian forces. After the German army advanced far to the east, Trotsky hastily returned to the negotiating table. This time a majority of the Central Committee voted to accept German terms, which were even harsher than the previous ones. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between the Central Powers and the Soviets was signed in March of 1918. It provided for the annexation of Poland and the Baltic States by Germany, and detached Finland, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine from Russia, making them independent states. None of that disturbed Lenin, so certain was he that revolution was about to engulf Germany, Austria, Britain, France, and the rest of the West.

The “Finland Station” gambit by the Imperial German General Staff paid off. It was a shrewd calculation that brought enormous success. The Germans achieved victory on the Eastern Front, and the treaty would have won the war for the Central Powers if it had not occurred at the same time that the forces of the United States arrived on the Western Front.

Bearing all this in mind, why not return Fethullah Gülen to the Middle East in the 21st-century equivalent of a sealed railway carriage?

Perhaps the shrewd pragmatists of the new administration could have some quiet discussions with the Russians. What if Mr. Gülen were to suddenly appear in Damascus and form a “Turkish government in exile”, all with the blessing of regime of Bashar al-Assad? A modest financial investment and the delivery of some military equipment — maybe we could recover those arms we delivered to Al Qaeda back in 2011 — might provide a major distraction for Mr. Erdogan on his southern border. Dealing with Gülenist troops advancing towards Izmir could keep him occupied and out of our hair for a number of years.

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Before you all drop on me like a ton of bricks: none of the above is serious. It’s just an entertaining fantasy, a way of looking at the alternatives to “stability” in Turkey under iron fist of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

And, above all, it’s a reminder that we don’t “need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective”. We don’t need to see the world from a Syrian or Russian perspective, either. Nor from a European perspective.

We need to see it from an American perspective. Period.

21 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal

  1. We need to see it from an American perspective. Period.

    Amen and Alleluia!

    I have been disgusted with our dealings with Turkey ever since they suddenly and without warning, on the eve of battle, reneged on their promise to permit Allied Forces to use southern Turkish territory in the invasion of Iraq.

    We should have cut diplomatic relations then and there, but the fog of war got in the way. It was a horrible betrayal that cost Allied and Iraqi lives and Turkey was never penalized for its open double-dealing.

    I loathe Gulen and his “schools”; I hope they shut them down – the only thing taught in them is Islamic drivel. Kids’ lives are wasted. This incoming president has a whole lot on his plate, but when his new education head is installed I hope this subject is on the agenda.

    We covered this in the early years of the blog; others have done on-going work on this festering sore. May their investigations eventually bear fruit in the form of closing those madrassas. Then all those Turkish men teaching in the schools can go “home”.

    IMO, Erdogan used the opportunity of the “terrorist” attack at the airport (probably Russia’s revenge for shooting down the Russian plane that more than likely strayed over the border) to cleanse Turkey of anyone who posed the slightest threat to his tyranny. I hope Claire Berlinsky writes the book on it, once it is safe to do so.

    • Shouldn’t we do everything we can to bring the secular Turkish military back into leadership for awhile?. That was Ataturk’s desire too–if the country veered Islamic. I wonder if US military-Turkish military confabs could be held secretly on the sly somewhere?

      To have Turkey in NATO–and probably in the EU eventually–is a long term cancer in the ME.

      • Turkey is Turkey.

        NATO is the cancer. See how it has grown. See how it endangers us every day . . . to no good end.

  2. The only problem with such intervension in history is the unforseeable an unintended results, what is described as side effect. In the aforementioned case it was the formation of the Soviet Union with all the suffering that it brought directly to Russia and later to Eastern Europe and indirectly to China and Cabodia. It would be much better to limit intervension in history to supporting the just side, not yet another savage (especially when both sides are savages.)

    • But just think — if it had all occurred 6 months earlier, Germany would have won the war. Then it could have taken care of Bolshevik Russia at its leisure. At the time of Brest-Litovsk, General Hindenburg said he wanted the Baltic states to secure his left flank for when the next war came.

  3. Incirlik Air Base is the only American interest in Turkey that really matters, as far as I’m concerned. Given that we have about 50 tactical nuclear weapons onsite constant vigilance is required. Good thing Hillary won’t have them at her disposal.

  4. I believe it is more along the lines that Turkey needs the West, especially all those jizya payments from the EU to fill Erdogan’s coffers in the New Islamic Caliphate of Turkey while he pretends to hold back the African hordes from escaping into Europe.

    I sincerely hope Lt.General Flynn has changed his opinion since the last time when he stated he believed that Turkey holds much strategic value for the American military – strategy against who? The Russians? The Syrians? ISIS? Another covertly thought
    out ‘adventure’ into the Middle East?

    Your analogy Baron is food for thought.

      • One day we will see all those Mosques burned to the ground or demolished and all it will take is to call Islam out for what it truly is not, a religion, as we in the West understand the meaning of religion to be.

  5. During this recent “Gulen controversy” I have always thought that extradition of Gulen would be basically exposing this gentleman to Erdogan’s ire and vengeance and that US simply should honor the word given to him – i.e. you have asylum in the USA and will not be threatened by the lethal forces you escaped from.

    Well … nothing is black and white. Gulen obviously is perpetrating quite a subversion and the network of his schools teaches what Dymphna very aptly described above.

    So the question is: has Guen done anything on the basis of which the US government could possibly revoke his asylum or rescind his current immigration status?

    Consulting my friend Google did not bring anything encouraging. Alas – it looks like even if you preach whatever is alien and hostile to our Republic during both your asylum and permanent residency (he is a Green Card holder now), there is no formal reason to even question your status, let alone to initiate a hearing, even less a day in court …

    So he is safe in our country. If I am right, there is no permissible legal way of putting his asylum/residence in doubt. Extradition would be an unusual, harsh move, evidently against our laws.

    Hmm … maybe I am wrong. Actually, I wish I were wrong.

  6. Better still. Leave people and their regimes alone. Rebuild the British and American Navies and armed forces on ground and in the air and use s system of global “projection” to police the globe. Call it the “Pax Anglicana” or “Pax Americana” as it sounds better than “Pax Anglosphere” but such a system- similar in effect to the Pax Romana, where the perceived threat was the key required a minimum of force and worked very well indeed. I would recommend Edward Luttwak as a good read.

    One thing must not happen is a loss of US power and leadership but the UK should spen far more on its military to balance the US burden and frankly I don’t trust any British politician until we are freed of the European Union and its crazy megalomania.
    If Islam takes Germany and France, especially withir known empathy for Erdogan and Co-God forbid- nuclear arsenals will be in the hands of Islamist nutters that at some point will use them and be in direct confrontation with the US and its British ally.

    The projection of Islamic ideological terror is bad enough through finance and mass immigration. Can one imagine a situation if the Imams were to gain hold of Europe’s nuclear deterrent?

    • I’d been wondering about just that. It’s bad enough that Europe is crumbling while being ‘peacefully’ invaded by semi-literate savages, but there are some things it is difficult to see Europeans giving up without a real fight; things like their football, concerts and sporting events, etc., but more to the point, nuclear weapons.

      The thought of a nuclear arsenal at the command of some fat, semi-literate islamic slug is terrifying to say the least, and obama has been doing his level best to make that nightmare come true in Iran.

        • Yes, I forgot to say the beer! Never tried Theakstons for the simple reason I always drank Guinness when in U.K. for two reasons: (1) I love it and (2) It doesn’t travel well, and in Canada, well, it doesn’t travel well, ’nuff said!

          • The last time I was in Yorkshire, Theakston’s had been relegated to a relatively minor position, due to the explosion of micro-breweries all over the place. I couldn’t believe the number of taps I saw behind every bar! It’s the same over here now, of course. Nothing wrong with that, provided that you like your beer flavored with orange and nutmeg and jalapeno and God knows what else…

  7. The Turks (like Pakistan) are double dealing with the West. Where exactly do Turkish goals and the goals of the West coincide? Stability in the region? Just how helpful has Turkey been in the fight against ISIS? They have done next to nothing to help.

    The exodus of Syrian migrant’s from Turkey into Greece was clearly orchestrated by the Turkish government. Increasing the muslim population in Europe (and the Greek Islands) is clearly a strategic goal of Turkey. As soon as Merkel offered some deal on EU entry for Turkey, the migrant numbers reduced to a trickle. Erdogan is both an Islamist and a nationalist who wants to revive the old Ottoman empire and claw back its former territory. It is worrying that General Flynn can’t see that.

    I would like to see Trump make a bold diplomatic move, to call for the establishment of a Kurdish state, in recognition of their dedication to fighting ISIS. The new state would encompass the Kurdish region of Iraq and Syria. I note that Israel has previously called for the establishment of a Kurdish homeland. It would infuriate the Turks no end and undermine Erdogan’s expansionist plans, especially with a new US Air base at Irbil, quite handy to Iran. Now there’s a idea to stew over General Flynn.

  8. Interesting that Marx and Lenin misjudged (or at least overestimated) the revolutionary potential of the working class in the industrialised capitalist countries, where they were generally better off than their ancestors had been*; communism found its most fertile ground in relatively backward agriculturally based economies where the disparity in wealth and power between the peasants and the elite was greater.

    *Some feminists are surprised to learn that many women regarded the transition from working alongside the men in the fields AND raising children, to staying at home while their men earned enough in the factories to support them, as a great liberation.

    • Feminism is a government program – funded and promoted – to lure women into the tax slave role . . . to support the welfare-warfare activities of the state . . . to buy power for a small group of controlling families (“elites”). It leads to the unavoidable, painful spasm of revolution.

  9. A few steps:

    Abolish NATO.

    Let Euroland take responsibility of its own defence – which could require pouring more resources down that hole. This will not necessarily happen, but there will be a pull in that direction.

    This will speed up the collapse of the – seemingly endless – welfare largesse; which should go a long way towards cleaning up the Islamist banlieus and bases, and perhaps, even reversing their growth.

    Wishful thinking?

    • There are now too many Muslims in Europe for any ‘wishful thinking’ put into practice to actually work. Those Muslims now living within Europe consider where they live to be part of the Ummah and Islam – that is one of the basic tenets of Islamic practice when Muslims migrate.

      The other aspect to what you put forward is that Mosques are in most places used to store weaponry for when the time comes to use it against the infidel.

      I have no idea how many Mosques are now within Europe, but I guess that may give you an idea of how things will eventually pan out for any Western country that has a large Muslim population.

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