The White House confirmed Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet on the sidelines of the NATO summit on June 14. The trip that brings Biden to embrace the leader of Turkey, the second largest NATO member in terms of both population and size of its armed forces, will be Biden’s first jaunt outside the U.S. since entering the Oval Office.
Although the two heads of state are arming and advising opposing groups of extremists in the war against Syria, they are firmly united in their Euroatlantic contempt for the world outside NATO. Biden will soon be presented with a $753 billion war budget by Congress as he escalates threats against his nation’s only real nuclear rival, Russia.
Turkey now permanently maintains troops in no fewer than five countries from North Africa to the South Caucasus (Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Cyprus, Iraq and Syria) as well as supplying arms and equipment to anti-government rebels in Yemen. It is also using its proxy in Afghanistan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, to defy the central government of President Ashraf Ghani while taking over the nation’s international airport outside the capital of Kabul in a deal with NATO.
In addition to demanding that Crimea be “liberated” from Russia while stirring up Tatar secessionist activities there, Turkey has also recently denounced Russia for alleged genocide against ethnic Circassians over a century and a half ago. President Erdoğan recently stated: “On the 157th anniversary of the deportation of our Circassian brothers from their homeland, I feel a great pain in my heart, and I wish Allah’s mercy to those who lost their lives.”
His government is also forging ahead with the Istanbul Canal which it openly admits will circumvent the 1936 Montreux Convention limiting the number and size of warships allowed to enter the Black Sea. Erdoğan’s project will open that sea up to as many U.S. and NATO warships as Washington and Brussels choose to deploy there against Russia.
Turkey is now the only nation in the world competing – or rather working in tandem – with the U.S. to achieve status as a global “indispensable nation.”
The speaker of the Turkish parliament, Mustafa Şentop, was in Pakistan on June 1 where he asserted Turkey and Pakistan should lead the Islamic world together. Turkey has a population of 95 million and Pakistan of 215 million. There are almost 2 billion Muslims in the world whose opinion has not been solicited on the matter.
When Biden and Erdoğan touch elbows at NATO’s new billion-dollar headquarters in a few days they will do so as NATO’s most powerful and most aggressive leaders. As the two greatest military threats to the world. They could not have chosen a more apt venue for their meeting.
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.