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Jun-02-2010 13:53printcomments

What Would Turkey's NATO Allies do in the Case of a Turkish/Israeli Throwdown?

Israel’s been pissing off its friends for a long time now. This particular attack seems to have been done for domestic political reasons, and was a deliberate flouting of international law, a slap in the face “you won’t do anything about this, we can do whatever we want.”

Jets from the Turkish and Israeli air forces
Jets from the Turkish and Israeli air forces

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The general assumption has been that if push comes to shove between Israel and Turkey, that NATO allies will not support Turkey, and that the US will supply Israel, but not supply Turkey

I wonder if those two things are both true.

It’s interesting to note that Britain, normally a staunch Israeli ally, in response to the attack on the aid flotilla in international waters called for an end to the Gaza blockade.  As with both Turkey and Israel’s actions, one imagines this may be driven by domestic political concerns.  To put it simply, Britain has a lot more Muslim citizens than Jewish ones, and England’s Jewish residents tend to be liberal and unlikely to become radicalized and blow things up.  Electorally, helping Palestinians may be a winner.

In the US, AIPAC and the Jewish lobby are generally considered amongst America’s strongest lobbies.  But it’s worth putting in perspective—when George Bush senior tackled AIPAC, he crushed them.  The vast majority of likely Democratic voters aren’t that sympathetic to Israel.  And to mess with Israel, all Obama has to do is stop protecting it at the UN, which is completely under his control, and not preferentially ship supplies to Israel in the case of a crisis, something which is also 100% inside the executive’s purview.

Obama has been snippy with the Israelis in the past, as when new settlements were announced during vice-President Biden’s visit.  While it’s hard to read Obama, I think it’s clear that he hasn’t appreciated the way Israel has taken the US’s support for granted.

And hey, changing the conversation from the BP oil spill can only be good.

I also don’t think it’s clear that Israel can use its nukes on Turkey without any other nuclear power threatening retaliation.  Glassing a major metropolis is not something likely to make Britain, the US or France happy.  In the US the idea of using nukes seems to occasion something of a yawn, but in the rest of the world it is the ultimate taboo.

Likewise, I’m not entirely sure that if Israel attacks Turkey’s military vessels in support of what may soon be considered an illegal blockade of Gaza, that other NATO nations won’t back Turkey up if it responds with a naval blockade of its own.  In particular, I’m not sure that the new British government comes in on Israel’s side, nor am I sure France does.  And either of those nations is more than capable of slapping Israel around if Israel gets too big for its britches.

Israel’s been pissing off its friends for a long time now.  This particular attack seems to have been done for domestic political reasons, and was a deliberate flouting of international law, a slap in the face “you won’t do anything about this, we can do whatever we want.”

Works, until it doesn’t.  I don’t know if Israel has crossed the line, but I think it may have.  For Britain, in particular, to come out with a statement calling for the end of the Gaza blockade is not a small thing.

All of which is a long way of saying, I’m not so sure the US, and particularly Britain, will automatically support Israel in any confrontation with Turkey.

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Anonymous June 2, 2010 11:59 pm (Pacific time)

@ martin - what have they done when turkısh cypriots were systematically killed by makarios and sampson during 60's and 70's ? A BIG NOTHING

Albert June 2, 2010 7:04 pm (Pacific time)

A really naif article. US and UK opposite to Israel? No way. They are the servants, the dogs of Israel. I wonder so many Americans and English still did'nt see it.

Jess June 2, 2010 6:22 pm (Pacific time)

No one asked JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis to stop our blockade from allowing essentially Russian Navy vessels through. I was staged in Florida at that time instead of FT. Bragg and we were ready to load, fly and jump into Cuba all within 45 minutes. Tense times. We were threatened by Cuba and we took action. We have also but up other blockades when we felt our national security was at risk throughout the world. To screen any incoming material for things that could cause harm to us was an essential task we needed to take, whether by land, air or sea. I clearly recall the propaganda from our enemies and how so many Americans fell for their crap.

Editor: I'm not sure what your point exactly is, but FYI this flotilla's assembly, planning, etc., have all been covered here, and in many other places.  They carried food, medical supplies, construction equipment and children's toys.  There was not a threat and every nation knows that.  Israel used this as a chance to kill, to flex its muscles and show its real face to the world. 

nolocontendere June 2, 2010 5:28 pm (Pacific time)

You've got to be kidding with this commentary. The US and Britain will do everything possible to aid and abet the little terror state in any confrontation with anybody, and don't for a second think they won't.

Martin June 2, 2010 3:02 pm (Pacific time)

They would probably do what they did when Turkey attacked Cyprus in 1974 - nothing.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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