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Trump’s Embarrassing Letter to Erdogan

President Donald Trump and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 11, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. ( By Alexandros Michailidis /Shutterstock)

Last week the president sent a letter to Erdogan, and today it was made public by way of a Fox Business channel host. The White House has confirmed it is genuine:

The letter is dated from one week ago, so Erdogan presumably saw it several days ago and ignored it. Trump’s threats to destroy the Turkish economy are no less deranged when he delivers them in a formal letter than when he sends them in a tweet. The president has found a way to take the worst possible position so that everyone is alienated and insulted at the same time. The letter illustrates as well as anything we have seen over the last two and a half years how little the president understands about international relations and diplomacy. It shows a president hopelessly out of his depth. Brad Simpson comments on the absurd language of the letter:

Trump is anxious to show that he wasn’t simply caving to Turkey, so he threatens to wreck their economy, but at the same time he effectively approved the Turkish invasion that he is now desperate to denounce. His tone somehow manages to be bullying and desperate at the same time. He makes promises that Turkey will gain concessions that he can’t possibly guarantee, and then warns that Erdogan will be seen as “the devil” if he doesn’t comply with Trump’s demands. In what universe would a message like this produce a favorable response? I can imagine Erdogan laughing at this letter, and I can imagine him cursing at it, but I don’t see how he is supposed to take it seriously.

The president’s erratic and impulsive behavior makes it practically impossible for any government to know where they stand with him at any given moment. No government’s foreign policy can be successful when it is decided by the whims of one man, especially when the man is as inconstant and unhinged as the president is.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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