The United States have historically allied with dictatorship regimes (Dealing with Dictators: Dilemmas of U.S. Diplomacy and Intelligence Analysis, 1945-1990) in order to secure US national interests abroad (The Secret History of the American Empire). One of the major reasoning for supporting dictatorial regimes have been keeping other superpowers in check, and in today’s international politics the main US rivals are China and Russia.

Supporting dictatorial regimes can induce a cognitive dissonance for the American citizens, because the core principles and values Americans most cherish are being denied by those regimes that the American government openly supports. Why does the American government support regimes that act contrary to American values? Is such support merely a means to our ends of securing national interests? Such questions might haunt the moral consciousness of American foreign policy makers in the years to come.

What about an existing American ally that has been in a pathway to a shining democracy but yet is seemingly heading towards a dictatorship? The New York Times reports that President of Turkey Erdogan is jailing the members of the press for publishing stories that are critical of the President (The New York Times 3/7/2016). Western media outlets have been covering the story, but the US and European governments seem to be staying silent on the issue with good reason.

At this moment, Turkey plays a critical role in the Syrian conflict. The European nations need Turkey’s cooperation on the migrant crisis, and the US needs Turkey in the war against the Islamic State. President Erdogan holds immense influence on the Turkey’s government to cooperate with the US and European allies on these issues. There could be a danger that if the US and European government openly criticize President Erdogan's move against the freedom of the press, Turkey might threaten ceasing cooperation on the Syrian crisis.

Doing nothing will guarantee that all of the Turkish media would be puppets for President Erdogan, and maintaining the freedom of the press is crucial in protecting Turkey’s democratic institution. A democratic Turkey is important for being the model for other Middle East countries that are striving for democracy on their own.

President Erdogan has the opportunity to secure Turkey's democratic future by reversing his policy in arresting oppositional press, and the US and European leaders have the chance of encouraging President Erdogan in taking the right path for his country.

Besides, instead of jailing journalists, debating the oppositional press in an open forum might be more effectively electorially for President Erdogan. Isn't the chance of making the oppositional press appear as fools more appealing in a fair, democratic atmosphere than simply silencing the critics?


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