Ousting Turkey from NATO a last resort, but possible - WSJ

The United States should reconsider further measures against Ankara’s insistence to purchase Russian S-400 missile system including ousting Turkey from NATO, which is a last resort but nevertheless, a possible one under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial team said on Thursday.

The Pentagon set July 31 as deadline for Turkey’s ejection from the F-35 programme if Ankara goes ahead with plans to receive the delivery of the S-400s, which according to Erdoğan will take place in the first half of July.

Turkey’s expulsion from F-35 programme, which Ankara has invested more than $1 billion in since 2002, will create problems for both sides as the country’s order of 100 jets will need to be backfilled, while eight Turkish contractors which produce 937 parts for the stealth fighter will be directly affected.

Washington is concerned that the Russian system would have implications for NATO interoperability and expose the F-35 fighter jets to possible Russian subterfuge. “The S-400 is a computer. The F-35 is a computer,” the WSJ quoted Pentagon official Katie Wheelbarger as saying in March. “You don’t hook your computer to your adversary’s computer and that’s basically what we would be doing.”

"The F-35 withdrawal is a good step, but the U.S. has other means to show Turkey that bad behaviour has real consequences," the newspaper said.

According to WSJ, Washington should continue efforts to repair relations with Turkey, as it still benefits from its alliance with Ankara, but should also use other means to show that bad behaviour has real consequences, such as imposing sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The editorial team said Erdoğan had distanced Turkey from Europe and his abandonment of Western values had coincided with more strategic confrontations, such as undermining U.S. interests in Syria.

"Ousting Turkey from NATO would be a last resort, but the tragedy of Mr. Erdogan’s rule is that it’s now thinkable," the newspaper said.