As the White House defends President Donald Trump’s phone call to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his referendum victory that grants him largely unchecked powers, retired Marine Gen. John Allen is urging Trump to place a follow-up call to the controversial leader – and Allen is giving Trump advice on what he should say.
During an interview with Erin Burnett on CNN’s “OutFront,” Allen, the former commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and the former special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, said “President Trump can certainly do what he wants to do on this issue.”
“But,” he cautioned, “my hope would be that there is a second phone call, one that doesn’t require a lot of public airing, where he’s unambiguous as the President of the United States on his concerns over human rights, on freedom of the press, on the rights of women, on freedom of religion and the rule of law and all the necessary actions to preserve the democratic institutions of Turkey.”
Referring to Erdogan, Allen warned that “history tells us that when you accumulate that much authority in one single person, it often doesn’t go very well.”
The retired general also had more advice for the administration just days after Trump approved military strikes on Syria and the US military dropped America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan.
“The employment of military force absent a clear policy construct can be a dangerous thing,” Allen said. “What the President needs to do is ensure that no one comes away from this with the sense that this was a one-off, single use of military force. He needs to help us all understand what his grand strategy is and what his overarching policy intent is for the employment of force. “
Allen said he doubts Russia would go to war with the United States for responding militarily to a nerve agent attack on innocent civilians.
He also weighed in on the conflict with North Korea, as the country’s vice foreign minister threatens weekly missile tests and that there would be “all-out war” if the United States took military action in response.
Allen said it would help Trump and his team “to demonstrate that it has a coherent policy for the region – a policy on northeast Asia, a policy on North Korea, a policy on China – all of them linked.”