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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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.” 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate