Perhaps the most shocking thing about the attempted coup in Turkey was that it had not already occurred. The obvious tensions between civil and military authorities have been a long-simmering witches’ brew in Turkey, dating back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire a century ago and continuing through multiple coup attempts over the past four decades.
The crisis will give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all the ammunition he requires to conduct a severe crackdown on both the military and the courts. He has said he will use this to purge the military and the courts — chilling words, indeed.
One particularly troubling element is the status of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, where NATO reportedly has housed tactical nuclear weapons, though the United States will neither confirm or deny their presence. If true, this poses a very dangerous problem.
But the big questions remain: How will the failed coup impact Turkey in its role as a military ally in the NATO structure, and what should the United States be doing?