Trump’s Latest Defense of Turkey Makes Zero Sense

The US government stopped building jets in Turkey after the country bought an air defense system from Russia.

President Donald Trump addresses senior military leaders at the White House.Mark Wilson/Getty

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President Donald Trump came to Turkey’s defense again on Twitter Tuesday morning in the latest attempt to fend off backlash over his decision to permit a Turkish invasion of northern Syria. His explanation, centering on Turkey’s financial support for an American fighter jet, was missing a few key facts though.

The F-35, a stealth jet produced primarily by Lockheed Martin, is the most expensive weapons program in government history at over $1 trillion spent to date and, more recently, a source of financial diplomacy for the United States. Seven countries, including Canada and Italy, have partnered with the United States to build more of the jets in the future, and several other countries have signed up to receive their own planes. 

Turkey, a NATO ally, used to be part of the F-35’s international program and “helped fund the development of the jet,” Defense News reported. But in July, the country was expelled from the partnership after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. That transaction “presented a risk that technological secrets from F-35s in Turkey could make their way to Russia,” the New York Times reported

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, told reporters at the time that Turkey’s role in producing hundreds of F-35 parts would be phased out by March 2020. “At this point the Turks have made a decision,” she said. “We have said that the F-35 and the S-400 are incompatible. We will work forward at this point to unwind the relationship.” (The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet.)

Trump’s tweet seemed to conveniently forget that piece of recent history. Turkey had occupied a key part in the supply chain for building new F-35s. Without Turkey, the Pentagon has to now spend more money to spread out the costs of replacing them. The cost of covering for Turkey, Lord said, would be “between $500 million and $600 million.” 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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