by Patrick J. Buchanan
November 27, 2015
Antiwar.com

Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane was a provocative and portentous act.

That Sukhoi Su-24, which the Turks say intruded into their air space, crashed and burned – in Syria. One of the Russian pilots was executed while parachuting to safety. A Russian rescue helicopter was destroyed by rebels using a U.S. TOW missile. A Russian marine was killed.

“A stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists,” said Vladimir Putin of the first downing of a Russian warplane by a NATO nation in half a century. Putin has a point, as the Russians are bombing rebels in northwest Syria, some of which are linked to al-Qaida.

As it is impossible to believe Turkish F-16 pilots would fire missiles at a Russian plane without authorization from President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, we must ask: Why did the Turkish autocrat do it?

Why is he risking a clash with Russia?

Answer: Erdogan is probably less outraged by intrusions into his air space than by Putin’s success in securing the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, whom Erdogan detests, and by relentless Russian air strikes on Turkmen rebels seeking to overthrow Assad.

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