274 dead in Turkey’s worst-ever mine disaster _lowres

Rows of open graves for the mine accident victims are seen in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. A violent protest erupted Wednesday in the Turkish city of Soma, where at least 238 coal miners have died after a mine explosion. Many in the crowd expressed anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. Rocks were being thrown and some people were shouting that Erdogan was a "Murderer!" and a "Thief!"(AP Photo/Depo Photos)

I didn't vote for President Donald Trump, but I also wasn't among those who saw his election as an unmitigated disaster. The first two years of his administration, as I see it, have been a mixed bag. The president's undignified personal style, and assault on the environment, consumer protection, and tax fairness, have been offset in my view by welcome changes in foreign policy and in certain aspects of higher education policy. I am particularly appreciative of the president's support for Israel at the U.N. and elsewhere, his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his transfer of our embassy there, his withdrawal from the Iran deal, and his administration's restoration of sanity to Title IX and free speech enforcement on college campuses.

The president's recent embrace of Turkey's dictator Recep Erdogan, however, is a moral and strategic blunder which threatens to overshadow and outweigh much of the good the President has done.

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Turkey under Erdogan's rule is no friend of the United States and is one of the worst players in the international arena. That Turkey is still a nominal NATO "ally" says more about NATO's sad deterioration than it does about reality. Turkey has done nothing to combat ISIS or other forms of Islamic terror, because Turkey itself, under Erdogan, is a rogue Islamist regime. Instead of fighting ISIS, Turkey has relentlessly attacked our Kurdish allies who have done the only real fighting against ISIS, has actively assisted Hamas in its campaign of terror against Israel, and has established itself as a major political and economic ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Turkey's dictator Erdogan constantly engages in anti-Jewish rhetoric matched only by the Palestinians and by the mullahs in Iran. And domestically, Erdogan has jailed tens if not hundreds of thousands of journalists, lawyers, judges, military and police officers, business owners, and human rights activists (in fact Turkey jails more journalists than the entire rest of the world combined), and has engaged or threatened to engage in repeated genocidal attacks on the minority Kurdish population both in Turkey and over the border in Syria and Iraq.

Neither American interests nor American values are served by our president cozying up to Erdogan. Let's hope the president draws back from his embrace of this horrible dictator.

Yigal Bander


Baton Rouge