Who could possibly object to such unexceptional, even banal sentiments? The government of the Republic of Turkey. For years lobbyists for Ankara and Turkish groups battled representatives of ethnic Armenians, often backed by other critics of Turkey, particularly Greek and Cypriot interests, over whether or not Congress and the president would pronounce their opinion on this obscure historical question. The bizarre battle over how to characterize events decades past was among the most bitter to regularly consume Washington.
In recent years, Ankara has lost ground. With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan simultaneously creating an authoritarian state, arresting American citizens, turning hostile to Israel, courting territorial conflict with Greece and Cyprus, promoting Islamist forces, colluding with ISIS, attacking the U.S. military’s Syrian Kurdish allies, intervening militarily in Libya, and cooperating with Russia, he has few friends left in America. No one without Turkish blood or on the Turkish payroll has any reason to defend the Turkish government. There is no political penalty for a U.S. politician ignoring Ankara’s complaints and defying Ankara’s dictates.
Indeed, if I had my druthers, America’s nuclear weapons would be out of Incirlik tomorrow. All other military forces would be in the process of moving to bases outside of Turkey. And Washington would be discussing with other NATO members how to either oust or restrict Ankara to eliminate the danger of a fifth column within the transatlantic alliance. Best for the U.S. today would be a civil divorce rather than continued wrangling over the future of the relationship. Erdoğan can be trusted only to do harm — to allied states and the Turkish people.