Cato Institute senior fellow Ted Galen Carpenter writes in National Interest (Online):
Erdogan’s victory over an extraordinarily inept coup plot did not signal a victory for a truly democratic Turkey. Instead, his government has used the incident to purge not only the military, but the judiciary and the educationalsystem of thousands of opponents. The extent and speed of the purge confirms that Erdogan simply used the attempted coup as a pretext for a plan long in place. NATO still confronts the problem of a member state that is now a dictatorship in all but name.
But Turkey’s descent into authoritarianism is hardly the only sign of illness in the alliance. There are noticeable uncertainties about the most pressing security issue: how to deal with Russia.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier startled his alliance colleagues with extremely negative comments about NATO’s large-scale military exercises in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
It is not coincidental that Germany was one of the major NATO countries most adamant about not extending membership invitations to Ukraine and Georgia, despite a vigorous lobbying effort by the United States, Britain, and most East European members.
Germany is not the only NATO member to exhibit doubts about the increasingly hardline policy toward Russia. Both Hungary and the Czech Republic have shown some reluctance. Turkey’s recent, very public, reconciliation with Moscow may lead to a further erosion of any NATO consensus in favor of an aggressive policy.
Potentially the darkest cloud on the horizon for NATO, though, is the U.S. presidential election. Although Hillary Clinton is reliably committed to the status quo regarding NATO (as she is on nearly every other major foreign-policy topic), Donald Trump is not.
NATO is an alliance showing multiple signs of a terminal condition, however much its partisans may want to deny that reality.
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