The US Should Consider Removing Nukes From Turkey

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

b-61-bomb-rackHaving seen recent events culminating with the failed coup to oust Turkish leader Erdogan and the onset of his Orwellian crackdown against the judiciary, academics and any others perceived to be a threat to his increasingly autocratic rule, the time has come for the United States and subsequently the NATO alliance to reconsider whether Turkey is stable enough to host a nuclear stockpile.

New Yorker Magazine, quoting Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Incirlik Airbase holds about fifty B-61 thermonuclear bombs–more than twenty-five percent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The dial-a-yield of these bombs can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as one hundred seventy kilotons. For comparison, the yield of the Little Boy device that destroyed Hiroshima is estimated at fifteen kilotons.

During the coup attempt, the Turkish government closed Incirlik to all travel and cut off its power, forcing operations command to rely on back-up generators. The base’s commander was temporarily detained. The coup only hastened and to a much greater extent expanded the suppression of civil liberties and dissent.

The Erdogan government accuses dissident Fethullah Gulen, currently living in exile within the United States, of organizing the coup and warned the United States that it would be making a “great mistake” if extradition was not granted.

The dictatorial becoming of Mr. Ergodan should come as a strong worry especially when met with the inevitable backlash against his rule could pose a risk of proliferation if these weapons are not secured.


 

Concern over nuclear weapons within Turkey is not without precedent. During the 1960’s the weapons were technically under the custody of United States Officers but in actuality physically under the control of servicemen of the militaries of Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Germany who handled the weapons while in use.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. Secretary of Defense McNamara had grave concern that Turkish officers might on their own volition and without explicit authorization launch nuclear attacks against the Soviets. He ordered U.S. troops to sabotage the missiles if any were readied to be launched. Later, the weapons were equipped with Permissive Action Links to remove the danger of unauthorized launch.

In 1974 when Greece and Turkey nearly went to war, the United States removed all nuclear weapons from Greece and rendered all such weapons in Turkey inoperative.

Further cause for concern is that Incirlik Air Base is only about seventy miles from the Syrian border and serves as a staging base for U.S. strikes against ISIS. The involvement of Turkey in the anti-terrorist effort made the nation a natural target of jihadis and it would be folly to ignore that Incirlik and its stockpile of nukes would not make a very tempting goal.

Mr. Ergodan has not been a fully willing partner in the effort to wrest ISIS and al-Qaeda from the Levant. Kurdish sources, have alleged and shown considerable evidence to support that two years ago Turkey was actually allowing supplies to jihadists and anti-Syrian militias to pass through the nation and more recently Turkey was embarrassed when it was revealed that the nation was turning a blind eye to allowing tanker-trucks to import oil from ISIS controlled refineries–a source of hard case for the terrorist organization. Now, it seems Turkey’s acquaintance with these groups has gone sour at the very least.

If there it is any indication as to what could happen if Erdogan abandoned the West in favor of a posture of isolation and hegemony having a nuclear-armed dictator could be very destabilizing in the region.

From another perspective the removal of the B-61s might have the effect of cooling tensions with the Russians.

As part of the negotiations to end the Cuban Missile Crisis with the Soviets, the United States agreed to remove all “Jupiter” ballistic missiles from Turkey; the presence of which was a source of considerable worry for the Soviet Union.

By Darren Smith

Source: The New Yorker

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

55 thoughts on “The US Should Consider Removing Nukes From Turkey

  1. Issac says:

    One thing to remember, it is essentially the Islamification or reIslamification of Turkey that is behind most of its problems. Turkey has been a stable and socially evolving nation the more secular and democratic it has been. Ataturk had this in mind. Erdogan is a step backwards both as pertains to the medieval religion of Islam as well as the establishment of a dictatorial rule, depriving human rights.

    This is a decidedly Western viewpoint. What makes you so very certain that the Turks are not very sincere in their embrace of Islam? Westerners see a woman in a hijab and immediately think oppression. I don’t think that is true. Burqua?, perhaps. But most humans happily are comforted by and love their religion. To automatically assume otherwise is an arrogant position.

  2. Paul Schulte
    1, July 23, 2016 at 12:48 pm
    po – check his facts on the F-35.
    ————————————–
    Paul, this where you counter his arguments with some of yours.
    Do you know something he doesn’t?🙂

  3. “”This is a decidedly Western viewpoint. What makes you so very certain that the Turks are not very sincere in their embrace of Islam?””
    Great point, Rose, the influence/legacy of Islam is Turkey is inseparable from its identity…lest we forget, Rumi is from and is buried in Turkey.

  4. Po and Rose

    I lived on the Med for many years. One of my closest friends married a Turk, diplomat. Her father was a Pasha. When he said, “Here have some wine from my village.” He meant his village. Her mother was a dentist. Her sister is a journalist. They prided themselves in their secularism, although they were ‘a la carte’ Muslims. Over several years I met and interacted with many Turks. I can say the same with Egyptians. The forward thinking people of Turkey and Egypt lean toward the secular in government and the personal for Islam. Ataturk banned wearing the Fez and promoted the Fedora. One might criticize Ataturk for trying to force Turkey into the 20th Century but you have to remember that the Ottoman Empire was an empire first, based on military might and a religion focused entity second. The Ottoman Empire ruled, as did the Romans, by allowing various religions and ethnic peoples cohabit as long as they paid tribute to the head thug. Situations of violence and animosity arose when certain peoples, such as the Greeks, rejected this administration. There was also an East West thing that predates most modern religions, including Islam.

    The fact of the matter is that religion is the opiate of the poor when it interacts with politics. Most countries that base their rule on religion use that religion to control the people. What better reference can an administration have than god. This is fact and extends far beyond the present Islamic based dictatorships, kingdoms, princedoms, etc. When you have god on your side the poor and the ignorant fall into line, especially if they can vent their spleens at the same time.

    Ataturk attempted to secularize Turkey from a colonial power based on the military. He kept the military secular and it has intervened when elected officials have gotten too full of themselves. The poor and their desire for Islam is not what is causing the problems in Turkey today. The problems are being caused by the same old schtick of organizing the masses, the poor who have not much more than religion, to acquire absolute power. Erdogan has made each step by linking his garnering of power with Islam, the fight against those who would threaten Islam and his power, and not much else. Islam is nothing more than a tool for Erdogan and other power structures. This linkage between this or that god or mumbo jumbo far predates Islam. How can you be wrong with god on your side. Po, you are a perfect example.

    It is the same old scenario with a few parties wearing different costumes and spouting different BS. Garnering power is garnering power. A prime example is our own Erdogan, Donald Trump who has taken the Republican strategy of blaming and finger pointing to identify enemies rather than solutions to an immeasurable level. That level may be measured by the stupidity of those Americans that vote for our own Erdogan.

    • “One might criticize Ataturk for trying to force Turkey into the 20th Century but you have to remember that the Ottoman Empire was an empire first, based on military might and a religion focused entity second.”
      Forcing is the issue,,,every society steadily grows into its own destiny…and that destiny is always more and more secular and democratic. Which country leads the world in islamic atheism? Saudi Arabia! Why? Because islam is imposed upon them. Which countries have the most secular and tolerant yet intellectual forms of Islam? Turkey, Syria, Senegal, Malaysia, Indonesia… (and Andalusia before it, the MOST perfect expression of a society we have known) where Islam is not imposed upon them.
      Who are the most educated people in the US? Muslims are among those. Why? Because the societal structure ultimately decides how secular the religion is, and the more secular and democratic it is, the more secular and democratic any religion in it is. Islam is more extremist and backward wherever the local government is undemocratic, which affects education, welfare, standards of living…same as for any other religion or non-religion. Go to backward areas of China or Russia where communism acts as the same opiate you speak of.

      The fact of the matter is that religion is the opiate of the poor when it interacts with politics. Most countries that base their rule on religion use that religion to control the people. What better reference can an administration have than god. This is fact and extends far beyond the present Islamic based dictatorships, kingdoms, princedoms, etc.
      Religion is not the opiate of the poor, humanity is, whatever belief of any sort is, whatever is sold to them to temper their frustration and recruit them in passive acquiescence and ownership of their fate is such opiate. Politics is the opiate of the people more so than religion, as we see right now with Trump, Bernie and Hillary. The politics of hatred that the klan used is an opiate of control…same as the anti-shia that the House of Saud spews…or the anti-kurds sentiments of Erdogan…the idea of democracy is currently the biggest opiate of the people, giving carte blanche to not only their own oppression but the oppression of others.

      The poor and their desire for Islam is not what is causing the problems in Turkey today. The problems are being caused by the same old schtick of organizing the masses, the poor who have not much more than religion, to acquire absolute power. Erdogan has made each step by linking his garnering of power with Islam, the fight against those who would threaten Islam and his power, and not much else. Islam is nothing more than a tool for Erdogan and other power structures. This linkage between this or that god or mumbo jumbo far predates Islam. How can you be wrong with god on your side. Po, you are a perfect example.
      Agree all the way to the last sentence. What am I a perfect example of? I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you are not saying that I think you are saying…please develop that point.
      Your point above supports my argument above, that the forced secularization of Turkish society is causing a pro-religious rebound that Erdogan is building and riding on at the same time. Let us note it is the same exact movement taking place in Russia, where Putin has re-empowered Christian orthodoxy, the church, using them as allies and supporters of a nationalistic political identity.

      The article below is a great breakdown of the Turkish support for Isis and howit will affect its NATO linkage.
      View story at Medium.com

    • I think the difference between Trump and politicians is their history. Trump promises to do things and does them. A perfect example is NYC’s ice skating rink in Central Park. The city spent years and millions and could never finish it. Trump finished it early and under budget. I think it was his own money, but can’t swear to that. But he promised and did. And every time he built something wasn’t that a promise? And he did it. How does anyone detail what can be done until they have the facts? Obama was elected because he was black and people genuinely thought he would help the divisiveness in this country. “Hope and Change” meant cure divisiveness. Only after 7-1/2 years do we understand that. He never said how he would do it, but millions believed him. As millions believed Obamacare would be national health care and reelected him. I think Trump’s identification of the problems was unique. Individual identification of things we needed to fix. Hillary identifies problems we don’t have. Gays, lesbians, et al, have the same rights as anyone else. They can choose their religion, or none; they can vote for whomever they please; they can go to a movie; they can spend their money however they want; they can do everything I can do. A politician can’t change acceptance, which is really what’s wanted. I can’t force the people next door to like me, no one can.

      But I heard Trump identify what he wants to repair. I hear Hillary promising to force things that I don’t think need forcing. Interracial marriage was unthinkable when I was young, now it isn’t questioned. That took years of gradual acceptance. All social change takes years. Acceptance never comes by force.

  5. Steve

    Sure. Erdogan is on a complete power trip and parenthetically he uses religion as one of his tools to reassert control.

    But I’m not sure if that means he is insincere in his devotion to Islam. But surely, there are millions of Turks whose devotion shouldn’t be questioned, whether they are the rural poor or cosmopolitan city dwellers.

    As for me, I’m an atheist. Religion has no power over me, but I recognize others do not feel the same.

    • Rose writes, “Steve
      Sure. Erdogan is on a complete power trip and parenthetically he uses religion as one of his tools to reassert control. . . . But I’m not sure if that means he is insincere in his devotion to Islam. But surely, there are millions of Turks whose devotion shouldn’t be questioned, whether they are the rural poor or cosmopolitan city dwellers. As for me, I’m an atheist. Religion has no power over me, but I recognize others do not feel the same.”

      Devotion to a religion or other belief has to be secondary to the reasonableness of public decision-making. Doesn’t it? We live by the law of the reasonable person, not some god. This reasonable-person standard and religious edict will always be in conflict to some degree. So, if someone’s “on a complete power trip and parenthetically he uses religion as one of his tools to assert control,” he’s not unlike any of our recent Presidents. They’ve all done that, right?

      When this same fellow supports authoritarianism, crimes against humanity, and terrorists (sometimes called Freedom Fighters, depending on whose side one is on) or as a member of NATO destabilizes another country, delivers sarin gas to Syrian rebels or buys their oil, I have a problem with it, just like I’ve had with any of our recent Presidents and the soon-to-be-crowned Hillary Clinton.

      No point here, other than to note I dislike religious states along with those authoritarian regimes pretending to be one.

  6. Hey, Steve! Ease up a bit, please.

    I, too, distain religious states. I very firmly believe in the American value of separation of church and state. However, I vehemently disagree with what you seem to see as a similarity between deliverers of sarin gas, crimes against humanity, and authoritarian rule and our recent presidents and Hillary Clinton.

    A bit over the top perhaps?

    And just which recent presidents are you accusing? Bush was a loud and proud saved Christian. Yes, he used religion as a vote getter (no doubt we both understand how religion is used in American politics). I was strongly opposed to him and his policies, but I would not, and did not, describe him as an authoritarian terrorist.

    But Obama? Used his religion? Way off the rails, Steve. Hell, he was so circumspect about his religion that 95% of Republicans are able to attack him as a Muslim.

    HRC is a Methodist, I guess. I see no connection with her faith and her use of sarin gas or authoritarian rule, or an imposition of a ban against abortion or the use of contraception on religious grounds. If you have some evidence or another story that supports your belief, please share it.

  7. As one who lived at Incirlik AFB, I have to take exception to the idea that the Turkish military has any power over the US nukes. The FACT is that the US has sole control and power over those nukes. Granted the Turks could in theory, mount a large scale military assault on the storage area, but they will have to SHOOT their way in, and by that time the only thing they will have is scrap metal. I don’t know if the USAF still has the four planes on alert at the Victor Alert pad. I hope not. They sure enlivened our lives since they staged practice alerts on regular basis. We all hoped that they did NOT go past the gates when they taxied up to them. We figured that if they did take off, we had about 30 minutes remaining in our lives. At least we would have died a painless, quick death. Unlike the poor Turks in Adana who might survive the initial blast, and die a couple of weeks later from radiation poisoning.

  8. Rose writes. “I vehemently disagree with what you seem to see as a similarity between deliverers of sarin gas, crimes against humanity, and authoritarian rule and our recent presidents and Hillary Clinton.”

    Vehemently, eh? 🙂 Brutal. To temporarily calm that emotion for purposes of discussion, here’s an absolutely outstanding rendition of Enrique Granados’ Danzas Espanolas Op. 37:

    You believe none of our past five presidents have delivered chem-bio weapons to foreign states? No pattern of crimes against humanity? No pattern of authoritarian rule beyond the confines of his constitutional prerogative?

    As for using religion for political purpose, has a presidential candidate ever proclaimed an atheistic bent? It’d be political suicide. That’s one thing, but on the stump they’re all demagogues and hypocrites to the informed citizen.

    The people they’re trying to influence, however, are not. They’re believers, and, in the case of Islamic extremists, willing to meet their maker by detonation. Frankly, self-sacrifice is as noble a gesture as I can think of in human relations, but killing others in the process obviously is not constructive law or public policymaking.

    To my point, I disagree with the idea that a reasonable-person standard in law and policymaking should be informed by religious edict (let alone demagoguery), not only because religious values differ greatly and inherently create bias in the religious world, but, despite its seeming virtue to those it influences, to a reasonable person there’s no religious defense to homicide as there would be if, say, ecclesiastical canons were public law. For this reason, the US should not be playing ball with states that favor one religion over another.

    The only reason we do come to play is because this is an oil-based capitalist economy. That’s two strikes us against us just stepping into the batter’s box. If we don’t change direction soon, the third strike isn’t too far off.

    Cheers!

  9. Steve,

    That’s an interesting foreign policy idea of yours…

    “For this reason, the US should not be playing ball with states that favor one religion over another.”

    I guess that rules out any ‘ball playing’ (not sure of what exactly this includes) with Israel, the Vatican, England (see: Church of) maybe Ireland (need those definitions, Steve), Indonesia, Malaysia, Sudan, all of the Middle East, North African countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, probably India, Turkey, some portion of Central America (again, need some definitions from you) maybe some portion of South America, Russia (see Russian Orthodox Church) and most importantly, a good number of our own states.

    You’re a serious guy, Steve. Your thinking in this case is definitely un-serious.

  10. randyjet

    No doubt you are much more informed about the protection of American bases in Turkey than I. However, I wonder if you are taking into consideration the power of a 1000 protesting citizens. Are those bases protected to withstand that kind of attack? We’ve just seen the power of 1000 unarmed Turkish citizens who were able to stop tanks.

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