Always eager to expand its worldwide battlefields, the Pentagon recently began ordering the bombing of Islamic State targets in Libya.
Sure, the ISIS is a frightening terrorist group. But why, for heaven’s sake, is America involved, still once again meddling in Middle East matters? Better to spend the money at home and avoid a killing field of Libyans and GIs.
The New York Times editorialized: “The campaign was launched to help Libyan fighters, allied with the country’s fledgling, internationally recognized government, to rout the Islamic State from Surt, a coastal city that is base for ISIS operations in Libya.
“Given the country’s fractured politics and the messy amalgam of militias born of the 2011 civil war—in which the
U.S. played a key role—the Obama administration was reluctant to re-engage militarily.
“But now American officials are concerned that the Islamic State is making quick inroads along the Libyan coast, carrying out executions and enforcing draconian laws.”
All tragic but not the U.S. concern. It should not be involved in Libyan anarchy. If the international community wants to spend lives, money and time to stabilize Libya, so be it.
Sen. Tim Kaine, Democratic vice-presidential candidate, has been demanding to know what is America’s legal authority to fight the Islamic State. The American people need to know the answer to that pertinent question.
Turkey’s growing anti-Americanism
Blame the United States for many foreign policy sins but to accuse it of igniting the recent coup attempt in Turkey is absurd.
The Turkish people, shaken by the failed insurrection July 15, are desperate to find a scapegoat–so America is it.
The Turkish press, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, politicians and the Turk in the street are pointing fingers at American, igniting a wave of anti-Americanism.
The truth is the Erdogan is playing what the Times calls “a duplicitous and cynical game.” The Turkish people are alarmed by his purge of 66,000 people from the military, government ministries, schools and universities.
“That is so sweeping as to radically upend the character and competency of those institutions,” the Times editorialized.
In short, Turkey is no longer a democracy. Erdogan’s overreaction puts his country at odds with the West and makes Turkey a shaky ally.
What Erdogan ought to be doing is setting up a commission to determine who orchestrated the coup and why.
The Erdogan takeover leaves Turkey a long way from the ideal of Ataturk, a Turkish army revolutionary officer.
Ataturk established the Republic of Turkey in 1938, serving as its first president.
Russia, Turkey nuzzle up
After nine months of hostility, Russia and Turkey are making nice.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdogan met in St. Petersburg recently, vowing friendship and cooperation. This raised concerns in Western capitals.
“Putin has made no secret of his aim to weaken NATO and crack European unity,” the Times reported. “He seeks to forge a new, closer relationship with Turkey.”
The two nations have been at odds since November when the Turks shot down a Russian warplane and the Russians intervened in Syria.
The fact is the two countries desperately need each other. Otherwise they would be friendless with enemies all about them.
Putin’s support keeps as-Assad in power
Putin and Erdogan are on opposing sides in the Syrian civil war but all the power is with Putin. His military might,
backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Is keeping him in power.
The key question is whether they can end the civil war that killed 470,000 Syrians and displaced millions more Syrians.
The answer is no. All the more reason for the U.S. military to stay out of yet another Mideast tragedy. President Obama is wisely doing so.
Salvaging Russia’s pride
The British newspaper, The Guardian, commented that Putin is trying to salvage hurt pride from its debacle in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
“About 15,000 Soviet soldiers died in Afghanistan and one million Afghan civilians,” The Guardian noted.
Afghanistan was a quagmire for both Russia and the United States.
“Yuri Andropov, a powerful Soviet intelligence chief, at a Politburo meeting in 1979 said: ‘We cannot lose Afghanistan.’ Putin thinks he cannot lose Syria.”
Meanwhile, Russia is conducting a series of military and rhetorical wars against Ukraine.
Putin accused the Ukrainian government of using terrorism to incite conflict over Crimea, which is heavily militarized since Russia annexed it in 2014.
Putin is unquestionably a dictator. But Ukraine is in the Russian sphere of influence. He rightly doesn’t want to see it in NATO.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)