There still remains a month before Barack Obama and his family vacate the White House. Our allies and our enemies know this. To that end, this was planned as a part of the drafting of the constitution and reinforced by the 22nd amendment.
From the perspective of other nations, it is something they all must abide: how to deal with the planned transition time when you know someone new will be in charge (but not yet). I imagine that before the 20th amendment moved the date the new president was sworn in from March to January, it was even harder.
Yesterday, all of the (legitimate) news sites were abuzz over the assassination of Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey. I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve seen, where the author questioned whether this is a spark that might trigger the next world war, not unlike the assassination of Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 triggering World War I.
(Note that the assassination more than a century ago really wasn’t the cause of the war; it was the excuse for it…)
I’m not trying to argue that this particular killing — it should be noted that Russia and Turkey are not allies — won’t lead to war (it certainly could). But I am arguing that this seems more like a strategic warning to Donald Trump that couldn’t be more than that while Obama is still in charge.
Officially, Turkey is an ally to the US through NATO. Prime Minister Erdogan, though, has been making some very undemocratic moves in the past couple of years. President Putin may be happier than most world leaders with the results of this election. Among other things, he wants to see the sanctions against his country lifted.
And Donald Trump has business interests in both countries. I expect to see him at least try to get Russia and Turkey to be less belligerent to each other. It’s in his interest, as well as being in the interests of many people he has nominated to his cabinet.
And in and of itself, less belligerence is a good thing.
So I regard the assassin’s motive as having less to do with political sovereignty and more to test the incoming Trump administration. A warning shot, if you would.
The world has become a more dangerous place in the past fifteen years than it was in the previous fifty. We can’t close ourselves off to it and we’d be naive to even try. Alliances do shift over time.
I just hope we don’t give up on our friends because someone might make more money from others. I suspect that some people in Turkey might be thinking the same thing.