With Friends Like These…



Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber is prompting internet chatter about World War III.

Turkey is a US ally, and the incident is sure to cause another confrontation with Russia. America will undoubtedly feel obliged to take the side of its “friends” in Turkey but I hope the issue can be resolved peacefully.

It makes you stop and think, though, doesn’t it? Why would a US ally do a dumb thing like that? It makes me wonder how much Turkey’s friendship is worth.

Some friends are not worth having. You would think America’s professional diplomats would know that, but throughout history America has somehow ended up with allies that are nothing but trouble.

It has been a sad fact of life in neighboring Latin American countries, where brutal dictators have been propped up time and again by the CIA. And it’s true in the Middle East.

I wouldn’t want the Saudis as my friends, for example. Saudi Arabia has a disgraceful human rights record,especially in the way women are treated.

But America has looked the other way, apparently because the Saudis help to keep oil prices down.

The Bush family had close personal ties to the Saudi royal family, and even during the Obama Administration, America has remained a staunch Saudi ally.

But I understand Saudi Arabians are financing terrorists in Iraq and Syria. And they are slaughtering the goat herders in Yemen – with planes bought from the US – on the pretext of battling global terror.

Now, I’m hearing Saudi Arabia refuses to accept any Syrian refugees.

The Saudis are Sunnis, and are inextricably involved in the region’s Sunni-Shia rivalry. As allies of the Saudis, America is at odds with Russia, which has sided with the Shia rulers in Syria and Iran.

Actually, America is fighting on both sides, bombing the ISIS extremists, who are Sunnis, while funding Syrian rebels trying to depose Syria’s Assad, who is a Shia. Incidentally, you might remember that the US deposed Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime in Iraq, replacing it with a Shia government.

Meanwhile, in the fight against ISIS, America is half-heartedly arming the Kurds, who have repeatedly proven their friendship with the West. I suppose America’s reluctance to provide the Kurds with all the support they need is because this wouldn’t sit well with Turkey,where the Kurds are fighting for their independence.

Kurds in Iraq and neighboring Turkey want their own state and might use the arms they get from America to carve a piece out of both countries to create that state. You can imagine how America’s “friends” in Iraq and Turkey feel about that.

Did that have anything to do with shooting down that Russian plane? It doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know, but the story I’m getting now doesn’t seem plausible, either. Why would the Turks risk a world war because a Russian jet might have unwittingly crossed into their air space?

I don’t really think the incident will precipitate World War III but it brings that unthinkable possibility a step closer.

America’s objective now should be to help rid the world of the ISIS blight, and then have as little to do with places like Iraq and Syria – and Turkey – as possible. As far as I can see, there’s no end in sight to conflict in the region.

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