President Trump showed great ignorance on Tuesday when he stated, "Due to the fact that [Turkey] bought a Russian rocket, we can not sell them billions of dollars worth of aircraft, which is not a fair deal."
Sorry, Mr President, it is fair and necessary.
This is about more than a few billion dollars. What is really at stake is twofold: the ability of NATO crews to act against Russian air defense networks and the responsibility of NATO member states to support the Alliance.
For one thing, the NATO crews are already facing a significant challenge in Ukraine face of S-400 and other Russian air and missile defense systems. The S-400 is an outstanding platform designed explicitly to deny access to Russian strongholds to fifth-generation NATO fighter aircraft. The range and traceability of the S-400 also provide Russia with the opportunity to launch rapid blitzkrieg-style attacks into Eastern Europe, and then place that area under air defense protection. This is a critical threat to NATO, in particular Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
That's bad enough.
However, when the Turks launch their F-35s alongside the S-400, the Russian intelligence services will crack the jackpot. As undercover coaches for the Turkish crews, who will operate the S-400 or hack the S-400 software through backdoors, the Russians will receive important information on how to locate, identify and target the F-35. This intelligence service will then inform the Russian tactical doctrine.
This poses a totally unacceptable threat to NATO crews destined to operate the F-35. It also introduces a totally unacceptable deterioration of NATO's combat potential.
If President Trump had listened to his intelligence, he would know that. Instead, the president seems absurd to think that this is a missed business opportunity.
But Trump gives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan far too much sympathy. Erdoğan knows the purchase of the S-400 is not compatible with his NATO responsibility, but he still goes on to think he can play Trump for a fool.
Trump must wake up.