Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet: Part 2

Yesterday’s post noted that none of the seven major news outlets I had looked at regarding Turkey’s shooting down a Russian fighter mentioned the nuclear dimension to the risk. Today’s New York Times and Wall Street Journal coverage bring the number to nine. They also provide some important details that help explain what happened.

The Times noted that, “Turkey wants Mr. Assad gone, and has allowed its border with Syria to be an easy crossing point for Syrian rebels, including those the West regards as terrorists or radical Islamists.” In spite of that, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was quoted as saying that the NATO allies “stand in solidarity with Turkey.”

The Wall Street Journal noted that recent Russian airstrikes have targeted Turkmen rebels in northwestern Syria who are supported by Ankara. It went on to state that the US agrees with Turkey’s claims that its airspace was violated by the Russian jet, but quoted a US official as saying “Our initial indications are that the penetration into Turkish airspace was a matter of seconds.”

Before we or the Russians take actions that could lead to a major crisis between nations armed with thousands of nuclear weapons, there needs to be an unbiased investigation of what transpired. If it turns out that Turkey was justified in its actions, that would be one thing. But, if it turns out that Turkey took provocative actions because it felt backed by our “nuclear umbrella,” then Article V of the NATO Treaty should be amended so that only an UNPROVOKED attack on one shall be considered an attack on all.

Come to think of it, we ought to amend Article V no matter what that  hypothetical investigation turns up – especially since it will almost surely never take place.

Martin Hellman

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, for almost 30 years, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." Its soon to open website explains: https://anewmap.com.
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