Make Giving the US the Finger Great Again: On Erdogan’s Referendum and Kim’s Nukes

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April 19, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

Ruslan Ostashko, Live Journal – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

On Sunday, Turkey held a referendum opposed not only by a significant part of Turkish liberal society, but also many EU leaders and almost all American establishment media. Also on Sunday, North Korea tested a new missile which US President Donald Trump personally spoke out against. As you’ve probably already guessed, these two unrelated events share one and the same theme – a complete disregard for the position of the American and European political establishments. On Sunday, the planet held a small holiday celebrating disobedience towards Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, and Theresa May. How have we gotten here? Let’s talk about this.

In fact, what did Erdogan achieve with his referendum? He achieved the concentration of power in his hands, and now Turkey can be considered not simply a presidential republic, but a “super-presidential” republic, and Erdogan himself will be able to stay in power until – just think about it – 2029. Given that the US and EU have already tried to get rid of Erdogan several times with the use of tested color revolution techniques and even by means of an armed mutiny, Washington and Brussels have negatively received the news of the Turkish President’s victory.

Official Ankara has consistently ignored and matched with invective lunges any attempts to pressure the referendum, even up to the point of comparing European politicians to Nazis. It turns out that Erdogan has gone contrary to Europe and the US’ wishes, succeeded, and will now have good chances of controlling the country which, although split, still submits to his desires. If he is not removed by another Maidan that his opponents might try to recognize in the coming days, then it is likely that the Turkish leader will outlive in his post all the Western leaders that have sought his resignation and destruction.

If we look at the situation surrounding North Korea, then there things are even sadder for Western and specifically American influence. If Erdogan is playing the role of the bad boy who is still formally in alliance with the collective West, then Kim Jong Un can be said to literally embody all the cliches of a Hollywood villain. This villain has no economic power, but most likely has several nuclear warheads, patrons in Beijing, fanatical supporters at home, and a very convenient geographical position thanks to which his warheads can reach the US’ asian allies and some American military bases in the Pacific.

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Now after several, albeit unsuccessful rocket tests, the Washington administration has no good way out of the situation. After having promised to all but launch a preemptive strike if such tests are attempted, Trump’s team’s behavior has since looked strange. There was no preemptive strike, nor was there a responsive one. But that’s not all, as the US’ allies in the region themselves have cooled down over the prospects of real military intervention because one Fukushima for the region is more than enough to not want additional sources of radioactive contamination. 

It turns out that Trump’s team is now faced with the choice of either losing face or risking unleashing a regional war which will not be met by enthusiasm from Japan or South Korea, not to mention China. For now, the harshest response of the Trump Administration to Pyongyang’s actions is Vice President Pence’s statement that the US’ “strategic patience” is over. It seems that soon we’ll have to change the joke about a thousand Chinese warnings to be about American threats. 

And all of this mess started, of course, with Vladimir Putin, who was the first to start this holiday of disobedience towards the US in the 21st century. I remember during the Bolotnaya events, and even later, when the Russian operation in Syria began, when American experts said live on CNN that Putin needs to be “contained,” because if Putin and Russia aren’t “contained”, then the Russian example will become contagious for other countries and politicians.

In fact, the same slogans were used during Trump’s election campaign, although not against Russia, but against China, with the message that China must be “contained” or else America will no longer be seen as great and number one. Vyacheslav Volodin was right when he tried to explain to the Americans that the role of the world’s policeman which they are trying to play has very negative consequences. You can’t always and everywhere suppression everyone. Even at the peak of US power, Washington did not have enough tentacles to cover the entire globe.

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Trump’s administration is now in the position of a tired and drunken juggler who has to juggle a dozen plates, but some of them will necessarily be broken. There is not so much time between the moment that the world realizes that the American king is actually naked – and this happened with the Crimean Spring of 2014 – and the moment when the US will completely lose control over its closest allies. Could you have imagined a few years ago that the President of the European Commission would threaten the United States with support for Texan separatism? I couldn’t, but it’s happened. Jean-Claude Juncker recently, officially threatened Donald Trump with supporting the movement for Texas’ secession from the US, yet the most interesting of all is that this was for nothing. The American Akela with a red hat with the slogan “Make America Great Again” has overshot and is now literally grinding its teeth off the coast of North Korea. And even if the US demonstratively bombs someone, the illusion of American omnipotence has already dissipated forever. 

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