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October 20, 2022 at 3:04 a.m.

What could ever go wrong at the very spot where cultures, religions and ethnicities collide? What's one more hotspot on a globe full of them?

The Aegean Sea--where East meets West--appears ready to boil over, with Greece and Turkey behaving very much like countries on the verge of war.

Already tense relations between the Mediterranean rivals were heightened recently with the alleged deposit of 92 migrants, stripped naked and some physically abused, at the Greek-Turkish border in Thrace. The Greeks claim the Turks left them there and even attached the word "barbarism" to their latest accusations.

For years, the feuding neighbors have accused each other of repelling immigrants, often harshly, from shores and borders. And escalation has followed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rise to Putin-like authoritarian.

Greece accuses the Turks of regularly "pushing forward" migrants in an attempt to place pressure on it and by extension the European Union and the West.

Turkey is home to the largest number of refugees on the planet. And its economy is tanking, leading many diplomacy wonks to the conclusion that Erdogan, the self-professed "Imam of Istanbul," may entice war to distract from issues at home.

When the Greeks inevitably play their EU card, will Europe answer? Global conflict has hit the triage stage, and Europeans' focus is on Vladimir Putin, Ukraine and the likely cold winter ahead.

Noted author and historian Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute says the Biden administration has been "more resistant to Erdogan's whispered charms" than previous administrations but "misplayed its hand" by endorsing the sale of F-16s to him.

War is coming in the Aegean, he believes. What does that mean for us?

"The questions the Biden administration will likely need to answer within a year are what can be done to prevent Turkey's aggression, what the United States can do to enable Greece better to blunt Turkey's drone, aircraft, and missiles, and whether the United States can really sit on the sidelines if one NATO member attacks a faithful NATO ally."

One can't help but think back to reports of the U.S. military's decreased capacity to engage in multiple global conflicts when needed. Mr. Erdogan is friendly with Putin and Red China. Escalation to war in the Aegean carries all the hallmarks of falling dominoes that have led to world wars.

Let's trust the West can determine a means to prevent further Turkish aggression. The fewer pots boiling over, the better.

Print Headline: Boiling over


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