The supply of Russian S-400 SAM systems is supported by 62.8% of Turks, regardless of the fact that it is leading to a crisis with the United States! This is shown by a recent survey of 9,000 people conducted by Arlanda pollsters. It is striking that only 15.3% claim that Ankara should back down, while 21.9% say have no opinion on the issue.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attitude is totally rigid, and one cannot rule out that the impressive percentage that essentially supports the break with the United States is largely responsible for the official Turkish attitude. It is more likely, however, that there is a reciprocal relationship between popular attitude and AKP ruling circles (essentially Erdogan) that perpetuates a rigid stance in a self-feeding vicious cycle; a political Uroboros.
Erdogan, under pressure at home and abroad, is clearly betting on inciting every kind of nationalist reflex among the Turks in order to buttress his power. The rashness of his words – in which he threatens the US with retaliation – is far from the simple interpretation that Erdogan could adopt and point out that after signing an agreement for the Russian system, Turkey cannot rescind.
Obviously, there is also a question of Turkey losing credibility through such choices, the Turkish president has painted himself and his regime into a corner. Because the Turkish economy is literally on the brink of disaster, it is certain that through the rhetorical escalation Erdogan is attempting to invent a convenient scapegoat on which to pin the looming economic disaster.
However, the current leader of Turkey is assuming such risk that he might do down in history as the person who destroyed Turkey … after having bolstered its economy.
The multi-variuate processes are such that they can bring changes that will permanently alter the post-WW II world as we know it, although it has been in a state of constant flux in recent decades. But until now, such changes did not seem to be threatening certain constants …
It is obvious that a globalized community is going through a historical moment when the destruction of the opponent’s economy using means other than military violence (eg the bombing of critical infrastructure) is a much more effective weapon. At least for the strongest country in the world …
However, Turkey is equally likely to suffer seriously from the “group think” syndrome. That is, the inability to articulate political or other arguments that do not appeal to the omnipotent leader, since if Erdogan becomes agitated the consequences will be unforeseeable and may be far worse than falling into political disfavour, leading everyone to adapt to Erdogan’s views and perceptions.
This creates a collective belief through the process of adaptation to what is said by the Turkish president and his inner circle of fanatical, ideologically monolithic and religiously fixated cronies, with the result that the ruling elites are steadily pushing Turkey towards the proverbial cliff.
It is very likely that the belief at the highest levels of power in Turkey is that Turkey’s stance is changing the world as it strengthens Russia’s coalition with China to cope with an American imperium.
On the other hand, Islamists, nationalists, and Kemalist “rebels” from the Ataturk tradition have rallied around Erdogan, having as their common characteristic: Eurasianism. In simple terms, they are oriented towards the East and not to the West.
Ultimately, however, one should note the fact that even if the media reported what Erdogan said, it did not adequately point out its potential significance.
In a telegram of the Athens-Macedonia News Agency, it was reported that “the Turkish president warned that he would ask for explanations from those responsible for his country being disqualified from the F-35 fighter program, the coexistence with the S-400 in the same arsenal is considered by the US as a fatal error and therefore is committed to not delivering them to Turkey.
Has he said this at a time of clarity and awareness of the risk of collapse of the economy, and in particular of the defense industry? Was he sending a message to the Americans that he was dragged to the deal with the Russians and unable to go back because his personal credibility would collapse both against the Russians and his own citizens?
Or is he looking for some more scapegoats to “whitewash” himself, as the person who is solely responsible for cultivating a popular belief in the myth that Turkey is actually a superpower?
Maybe he will try to manage the situation the day after, hoping that the Americans will not favor clearing the accounts with him until the end, possibly remembering that the Eastern Question was never answered?
Whatever the case, the introductory paragraph depicting the number of people favoring the decision to buy the S-400 Triumf from Russia gives an idea of the intense anti-Americanism that prevails in Turkey. This anti-US sentiment will persist even if Erdogan leaves the stage.
One can only hope that the Americans have understood it and came to the correct conclusions, while at the same time making an objective assessment of the predominance in Washington of dangerous obsessions, Cold War remnants, which have become pillars of American geostrategy.