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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bush the Appeaser

There's a middle eastern nation threatening an invasion of Iraq, which it is currently shelling, and is pursuing nuclear technology, despite the fact that no one in the region thinks that's a very good idea. Nope, not Iran.


Our NATO ally in the middle east is turning out to be a lot less than helpful lately. According to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, "The Turkish military has stepped up attacks against what it says are Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, bases in northern Iraq. The shelling comes just ahead of a vote in the Turkish parliament on a bill authorizing a ground invasion against Kurdish fighters in Iraq. The military has reportedly amassed 60,000 troops along its border with Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Turkey to refrain from any major military operation, but Washington's influence over Turkey appears to be waning."

It's tempting to think that this is about the recent congressional resolution recognizing the 1915 killings of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide. It's not. Or at least, if it does have anything to do with it, it's only marginally. Turkey's stance on this incident is bizarre -- it never happened. That not even Turkey believes this is beside the point. They have a sort of Bush-like attitude toward the Armenian genocide -- the more you say something, the truer it becomes.

Turkey tried to buy good PR in the US before the vote in the House of Representatives. Asia Times (via The Center for Media and Democracy) reported that Turkey was "spending more than US $300,000 a month on sophisticated public relations specialists and former Washington lawmakers to help defeat the measure [declaring the genocide]" and that "The Turkish Embassy is paying $100,000 a month to lobbying firm DLA Piper, which is associated with former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, and $105,000 to the Livingston Group (connected to former Republican lawmaker Robert L. Livingston), and it recently paid public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard $114,000 ... a month." All to rewrite history.

Turkey is so touchy about the subject that turks face a three-year jail term for even saying the words "Armenian" and "genocide" in the same sentence. And the Bush administration has been so protective of Turkey's historical delusion that the US Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, was fired for referring to Turkey's crime as a genocide.

This would be weird enough, but the current Turkish state is not the Turkish state that committed the crime. That would've been the Ottomans -- who are gone. The Turkish government is entirely innocent of the crime it denies ever happened.

The biggest part of the denial is that the Ottoman leader at the time, Ataturk, is a national hero who brought Turkey into modernity. If you want a historical parallel, look to the Meiji Restoration in Japan. It's hard to take heroes down a notch, since historical heroes become folk heroes -- think how long it took for Americans to come to grips with the idea that Gen. Custer was an incompetent, racist dick. You're going to wind up getting some pushback when you try to set the record straight.

But the more pertinent reason for the denial is that there's a modern parallel -- Turkey has engaged in a long-term campaign of ethnic cleansing. "[Turkey] is the same country which, for decades (practically since the foundation of the republic in 1923), has subjected its Kurds to the most ignominious oppression and that recently carried out one of the dirtiest wars ever waged against a national liberation movement," wrote Sinan Esim for Monthly Review in 1999. "Turkey also resorted to one of the most massive operations of ethnic cleansing since the Second World War."

Turkey doesn't want to talk about past racist purges, because it'll bring up current racist purges. It would be very unfortunate if the country that committed the first genocide of the 20th century would be known as the country who never stopped ethnic cleansing since. So, not only is Turkey not committing war crimes, but Turkey has never committed war crimes. Turkey's freakin' Disneyland.

Bush's appeasement of Turkish demands for historical revisionism is short-sighted. He's merely putting off the inevitable. Turkey looks at northern Iraq and sees, not without cause, a new Kurdish state rising on it's border. The reason that northern Iraq is the most stable part of Iraq is because of the PKK and it's military strength. The PKK had a standing army before the invasion and the relative peace of the Kurdish region is due almost entirely to the Kurds. Turkey sees an enemy minority becoming a stable neighboring state and it makes them very nervous. The guilty have reason for paranoia.

Which makes Turkey's nuclear program pretty scary. Like Iran, Turkey claims it's program is for peaceful purposes, but Turkey has proven itself less than trustworthy over the years -- it's hard to see the shelling of Iraq as anything other than a betrayal.

Yet Bush is intent on appeasing Turkey, since we move troops and material through that country to Iraq. Without Turkey, we'd be forced to use Iraq's one seaport -- Iraq is otherwise landlocked -- and through tiny Kuwait. These would be less than ideal. So Bush is happy to play footsie with the ethnic cleansing Turks, while pointing his finger at Iran and telling them to watch it.

None of this is lost on people in the region, by the way. They know that the US isn't working in favor of justice, but of expediency and US interests. Everyone knows what the Turks do to the Kurds and everyone sees Bush's actions -- or inaction -- on that front for what it is. Bush is siding with monsters against allies, in order to keep his idiotic war going.

What is Bush going to do when the Turks invade Kurdistan? I'm guessing he'll frown, say something like "This is unacceptable," and that's the last you'll hear from him on the subject. His dad betrayed the Kurds and there's no reason to believe the son won't. It wouldn't surprise me any if Bush were willing to sacrifice the one region that's anything approaching a success story by appeasing Turkish claims.

Bush would turn a blind eye to a historical genocide -- not to mention a very possible near-future one and further regional instability and war -- in order to keep his damned war going until he's safely out of office. That's beyond calculating and self-serving, that's just plain evil.


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1 comment:

faruk said...