NATO to Turkey: You’re on Your Own, Pal

There’s an old Chinese saying: “revenge is a dish best served cold.” It’s becoming increasing apparent that President Vladimir V Putin of Russia exemplifies it in spades.

Last November, when Turkey shot down a Russian jet that intercepted its territory (for about 17 seconds), the world was caught with baited breath. It was clear that President Erdogan of Turkey was sending a message to his Russian counterpart at the very least. And possibly goading him into a wider war which would eventually send Russia’s troops out of Syria.

Putin however did not take the bait. Rather than escalate the situation, he decided to bide his time. In doing so, he appeared to be weak, at least in some quarters. But he knew what he was doing. The timeline, the geography, the character of the players and events –though not always obvious–were on his side. Clearly Putin understood military strategist Basil H Liddle-Hart’s distinctions between tactics, strategy and grand strategy (what I choose to call “geostrategy”).

And he also had a gut feeling that Erdogan was a hothead who would overplay his hand. We peoples of the Mediterranean Basin have a penchant for not being as calculating as those from the more northern climes. Anyway, he was right: Erdogan did overplay his hand.

Putin also understood that the correlation of forces and (most importantly) the demographic situation in the Middle East was too volatile for the EU/Turkey axis. The millions of rapefugees that have been unleashed on Europe because of the Neoconservative/Neoliberal desire to destabilize the Middle East are nothing less than a time-bomb which would neutralize European resolve against President Assad of Syria and his Russian allies. Putin gambled that in time, cooler heads would prevail in NATO foreign ministries.

His gamble so far, has paid off.

According to several news sources,, Europe has basically told the Turkish president that they’re not willing to invoke Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty and risk thermonuclear war with the Russian Federation just because the Turks hate President Assad of Syria. They’re not stupid. They don’t have the resources or the resolve for such a fight.

Moreover, they’ve seen the connections between Turkey’s ruling elite and ISIS. Gone are the days in which the propagandists could incite the Tommies of Great Britain by screaming that Belgian babies were being bayoneted by German soldiers. Now we can actually see the jihadis of ISIS burn, behead, and massacre Christians and Moslems who don’t ascribe to their Salafist vision. “Remind me again,” they seem to be asking. “Why are we trying to topple Assad?” Invoking the magic name of “Wilson” or “LaFayette” has seemed to have lost its talismanic hold over the imagination of the American people.

So yes, as in the Ukraine, good old Vladimir appears to have the upper hand. What do you expect from the leader of a country in which chess is a spectator sport?

As a postscript, I’d like to go out on a limb here and posit that none of this is without the Hand of Providence. Because of the increased tensions between Russia and Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew’s grand accomplishment –the convocation of the Great and Holy Council which was to be held in Constantinople– has been derailed. The change of venue to Crete was a blow to the prestige of “the New Rome.” The Phanar’s pretensions have now been exposed as just that.

This can’t be stressed enough: the optics of changing the venue diminish the nature of the Council. Heraklion is a nice city and all but it isn’t Constantinople, Chalcedon or Nicaea. It never was –not even in Byzantine times. In addition, the change in venue makes it abundantly clear that Istanbul is an Turkish city in which the leaden hand of Islam has crushed any Christian identity. It was the Second Rome. At one time. Not now –not for half a millennium. For good measure, Patriarch Kirill of Russia has stolen Bartholomew’s thunder and told Pope Francis just exactly how the cow at the cabbage. (We couldn’t have any misunderstandings now, could we?)

So what is the silver lining? Only the probability that nothing substantive (read: heretical) will come out of the upcoming conclave. The Moscow patriarchate has been prolix with communiques regarding the strictures of the upcoming Council just in case anybody was wondering.

To be sure, Bartholomew does have one card to play. And that is the granting of autocephaly to his eparchy in the Ukraine. If he does that however, then it’ll all be over. Hopefully, he will humbly accept his decreased lot in life in a Christian manner and not risk rending the Body of Christ.

We shall see. In the meantime, raise a toast to President Putin and congratulate him on once again foiling the plans of the Western elites who want nothing better than to spread more chao –er, democracy throughout the world.


  1. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    GEORGE! You’ve made my day! You must have suddenly got a lot of leisure time. I’m saving one of your sentences as an utter CLASSIC1 This one:
    “We peoples of the Mediterranean Basin have a penchant for not being as calculating as those from the more northern climes.”
    Right–Greeks and Levantines are so simple, compared to Teutons, Slavs, and VIKINGS!
    Many thanks!!
    I’m sure that Tatar president of Russia would thank you too!

  2. Michael Warren says

    The UAOC, although in negotiations with Istanbul, never went under its omophorion. The UOC – USA, Canada are, and they have definitely not toned down the Russophobic rhetoric. Istanbul’s card to play is abroad, with its exarchates and archbishoprics, where an informal Unia with Rome can be declared any day which will provide Istanbul with a storyline against Moscow. But that will be its last card and the point of no return. If it crosses the Tiber, a civil war will begin in Greek Orthodoxy while the West will have a Russophobic “Orthodox” narrative to champion. That really is the only thing Istanbul can do to stay a significant part of the picture. It probably will do this.

    I will veer off course with Turkey for a moment. There are Kurdish territories. There are Armenian territories. Iran, Iraq and Syria hate Turkey. Azerbaijan doesn’t have a card to play in support of its Turkish brethren, aside from war with Armenia, which will open up three fronts against it, not to mention an interesting chapter for the Udi people. Then there is Anatolia and all that used to be Roman. Where do the Turks and the Islamicized Europeans go? How does that territory organize itself after Turkey disintergrates? Neo Byzantium? Greater Greece? Can Turkey remain a state? Ultimately, the little known Gagauz people and culture can play a role in the transformation of Turkish culture. Shia Iran vs. Sunni Turkey could be an interesting way to test Islamic identity in Turkey where cultivation of Sufi Islam, Secularism and Gagauz Eastern Orthodoxy could be engineered as the path to peaceful settlement: Islamism as a political movement being the chief casualty. But as an Orthodox Christian, I would be the first to stand up for the fundamental rights of Turks so that no given nation with a score to settle not dirty itself with an imitation of Turkish barbarism against Turks. Trump will want a percentage of the oil and peace with the Israel lobby as his cut, and then this can happen if he is given political cover.

    The Ukraine is on the verge of collapse. While I am not the chess player Putin is, I hope the forces of a future Russian Spring are unleashed with the fall of the banderofascist regime. But I will add that I do have a strong affinity for a Neo Ruthenianism which would allow all Ruthenians to settle historical wrongs while maintaining a federal union with Russia and other Eurasian Union states. It isn’t enough to eradicate Unia in my mind: historical reparations and territorial reassessment with the states which once comprised recz pospolita are key to securing a lasting, historical peace with justice finally delivered. Trump will cut bait with the Ukraine and probably Moldova, Georgia and even the Baltics.

    While Brexit, coupled with Hollande’s and Merkel’s posturing for Obama and ruinous resettlement of refugees and others “for EU diversity” may abort the EU and destabilize NATO. Visegrad may be a bigger player in the end, and an independent one. Trump is an interesting unknown quantity here-will he decolonialize and end the American presence in Europe or will “others” force him “to see the error of his ways”?

  3. Speaking of the upcoming Council, both the Greeks and Georgians
    are calling the bluff of the Ecumenical Patriarch. See below:

  4. We do indeed live in interesting times.

  5. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    A very interesting analysis. Thank you, George.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Just read it. Excellent!

      • Gregory Manning says

        Misha, George,

        Coincidentally, while rummaging through old down-loaded You Tube vids I came across this, a 15 min. tutorial about the very same thing. I remember saving it because the explanation, like Misha’s linked article, did so much to help me understand where Putin was coming from. A neat, tidy tutorial.

  6. Michael Kinsey says

    I viewed a utube video which claimed the US jets and Russian jets in Syria are bombing cities. It said they had an agreement to give advanced warning to each other so another unfortunate mistake will not take place. But, a town was attacked in Syria, which both sides claimed the other did the bombing. Somebody is lying, and each side is bristling. I would blame OBAMA, but I don’t know for certain. The tension approaches the Cuba missile crisis.China, too is also bristling at a new threat being sent to South Korea in a state of the art missile system being sent by the US. They know they will be vulnerable to US missile attack.. 200 , 000, 000 Muslims can also be fielded by 1.2 billion Moslem’s. Obama is destructive, the very essence of the nature of the demonic, destruction for destruction’s sake.