Turkey’s NATO membership is the problem, not the Armenian genocide - scholar

U.S. President Joe Biden’s use of the word genocide to describe what happened to Ottoman Armenians during World War on April 24 “would be a good moment” to end discussions on the matter and move to more important things, Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank the CATO Institute, wrote on Sunday.

“Next year, forget the Armenian genocide. Let’s have a serious debate about kicking Turkey out of NATO,” Bandow said. “Doing so would serve a useful purpose.”

U.S. “lobbyists and PR flacks” currently concerned with genocide recognition could be kept “equally busy and well paid”, Bandow said, if they focused on a joint reaction to “Ankara’s destructive behavior” in the region and implementing sanctions against the Turkish president for human rights violations and for having “destroyed Turkish democracy”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could dismiss the matter of whether the 1915 events, the mass deaths of Armenians and other Anatolian Christian minorities upon an exile order, and say it had nothing to do with Turkey, Bandow said, observing “that the issue belonged to a completely different state and government”.

Ottoman pashas signed the exile order at the time and oversaw the expulsion process, which according to Armenians resulted in the death of some 1.5 million people.

Turkey acknowledges the occurrence of some deaths, but maintains they happened in much lower numbers and under wartime conditions of World War I, without a systemic or planned organisation.

However, there are more pressing matters to focus on regarding Turkey today, according to Bandow. Turkey, after two decades of Erdoğan’s rule, is “only a nominal democracy” and the Turkish president “brutally used” the July 15 attempted coup in 2016 “as his Reichstag fire, rounding up as many of his opponents and critics”, he said.

“In recent years, Ankara has lost ground,” the scholar continued, adding that Erdoğan “has few friends left in America.”

Turkey has, Bandow said, entered into conflicts with Washington’s allies, arrested American citizens, colluded with Islamist forces, and targeted Kurds allied with the United States, he said.

The United States should pull its nuclear weapons out of the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey “tomorrow”, Bandow said, and discuss with NATO member states how to “either oust or restrict Ankara to eliminate the danger of a fifth column within the transatlantic alliance”.