Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

October 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

WAR DRUMS IN TURKEY....Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is sounding eerily similar to the way George Bush sounded in March of 2003. The subject is a possible Turkish military assault on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq:

"The moment an operation is needed, we will take that step," Erdogan told a large flag-waving crowd in Izmit. "We don't need to ask anyone's permission."

....Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops, backed by fighter jets, helicopter gunships, tanks, and mortars, on the border for a possible offensive against about 3,000 rebels using Iraq as a base from which to carry out attacks in Turkey.

....Erdogan took a swipe at western countries for not cracking down on the PKK and said calling it a terrorist group, as the United States and European Union do, was not enough. "We want action, and if you can't show action, you fail the sincerity test," he said. "Those who overlook terrorism are in cooperation with terrorism," he told a conference earlier.

It's hard to back down when you've gotten to the point of deploying 100,000 troops and both the public and the legislature are baying for blood. All Erdogan needs now is an incident, and what are the odds that there won't be an incident sometime in the next couple of weeks? Furthermore, what are the odds that once 100,000 Turkish troops are unleashed, they'll only stay for a month or two and then get out?

Slim and none. I sure hope Bush has some serious magic up his sleeve for his meeting with Erdogan a week from Monday.

Kevin Drum 7:07 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

The only difference is that Erdogan isn't saying the Kurds are building nuclear weapons that they intend to use to attack the homeland.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 28, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

But of course Pelosi's Armenian declaration was Diplomatic genius, right? Yeah, Yeah, Bush is an idiot, push play on the Bush Derangement Wurlitzer, but Pelosi SHOULD have some 'splainin' to do.

Posted by: cynical joe on October 28, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

The stupidity of Pelosi's blunder is nothing less than I expect from the political genius who managed to lose a battle right out of the gate, when she managed to look weak and like a loser within days of the 2006 sweep by supporting Murtha. That takes a special kind of skill.

Hey Nancy, these guys are supposed to be one of a couple allies we have left in the world. Knock off the provincial localism, it makes you looking like a spineless, carpetbagging party hack from Baltimore or something.

I expect Bush to fuck it up, but I expect Democrats to fuck it up slightly less.

Posted by: Old Hat on October 28, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Many folks predicted this eventuality ever since the Kurds got a defacto state in northern Iraq.

However, we care more about our relationship with the Turks than we do with our relationship with the Kurds.

The Turkish PM is trying to force Georgie Boy to crack down on the Kurdish groups. If he doesn't there will be Turkish incursions.

Either way, by this time next year the Kurds won't be our friends. Expect to see violence begin in hitherto peaceful Kurdistan.

One interesting question will be how this affects turkish prospects for joining the EU. It will be difficult for the EU governments to sell Turkey to an already skeptical population if Turkey is busy bombing Kurds.

Posted by: Adam on October 28, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, don't the Turks know that only WE are allowed to invade other countries?

Posted by: Hacksaw on October 28, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Why would Bush think this is a bad outcome?

Posted by: Boronx on October 28, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Drum: I sure hope Bush has some serious magic up his sleeve for his meeting with Erdogan a week from Monday.

$$$. The Turks have Bush over a barrel, and they and he know it. They can demand just about whatever they want and Bush will pay up, because if the Turks invade Iraq while Bush is still in office, all hope of hanging the entire Iraq fiasco on his succesor go up in flames. Want countless bucks in U.S. aid? Done. Military equipment? Hey the store's open, and everything's free! U.S. help in getting into the E.U.? Well, it's yours, for whatever it's worth.

You can call it a collateral expense of the war.

Posted by: Martin Gale on October 28, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing Pelosi or the Dems did with respect to the genocide resolution had any effect on the situation developing at the Turkish-Iraqi border.

The only thing the resolution might have affected would be the supply routes to Iraq, which would have made it harder for Bush to prosecute his idiotic war in Iraq.

Not that I would expect the Dem-haters to understand what is actually happening in the real world as opposed to their ideological fantasyland.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw, there's no double standard: It's wrong for Turkey to attack because the Kurds really are harboring terrorist.

Posted by: Boronx on October 28, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, because Pelosi trying to point out the historical truth is exactly like making shit up so that you can justify an optional war.

Come on, what else ya got?

Posted by: craigie on October 28, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

There's even more to the Turkish threat to invade Kurdistan than meets the eye. Seems the US has been 'playing nice' with the PKK, whose PJAK arm (Iranian Kurds) have been making raids into Iran and causing heaps of trouble, much to US delight. I 'think' I've read that the Turks have found US-made arms in Turkey after PKK incursions, so it's possible the US is even arming these groups. Bush's very own terrorists. So now what does the US do?

Posted by: nepeta on October 28, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Those who overlook terrorism are in cooperation with terrorism."

Hard to see how the White House could disagree. So, instead of making a new friendly power among Muslim nations, the Iraq invasion may cost the US the only one it had. It'll be interesting to see if the White House tries to distinguish what the Turks seem ready to do from what the Israelis did in Lebanon.

Posted by: otherpaul on October 28, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

cynical joe: "But of course Pelosi's Armenian declaration was Diplomatic genius, right?"

Congress' Armenian genocide resolution, certainly ill-timed, is really not the issue here. While it might offer its collective and often confused and disjointed opinions on such matters, Congress neither administers nor conducts American foreign policy. That is the responsibility of the President and the administration.

Whatever happened to Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" rule? The United States assumed responsibility for Iraq's internal affairs and foreign relations from the moment Saddam Hussein fled his presidential palace just prior to the fall of Baghdad to American troops in April 2003. We aren't WE enforcing border security up in the northern provinces adjoining Turkey?

I find it at once highly cynical and extraordinarily disingenuous for the Bush administration to foist that particular responsibility upon an impotent Iraqi puppet regime that really controls no territory outside the range of American ordinance and firepower.

It's as though the president seeks even more chaos in that beknighted region of the world, and welcomes the opportunity to inflict further violence, bloodshed and pain upon the long-suffering Iraqi people.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on October 28, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on October 28, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: Remember the left-wing mantra- Islam is a religion of peace.

Remember the right-wing mantra: all blacks are stupid, all Jews are greedy, and all Muslims are violent.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Donald,

See my post at 8:21 for an answer to your question.

Posted by: nepeta on October 28, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, ask the HARD questions, already: the Turks (who are our ally and have much law on their side) invade Iraq and whack the Kurds... who are our ally. Then what?

Figure the Turks essentially carve out a piece of Iraq, so they can keep a better eye on the Kurds: then what?

I mean -- what, are we gonna dump the alliance with Turkey over this? We didn't over Cyprus.

And how are we gonna accomodate a Turkish military presence in Iraq -- even as WE are trying to leave?

(Prediction: this will actually, oddly, make it easier: the price of our getting out, will be Turkey getting out. Iraqis who would have been happy to claim that they DROVE us out, will know damned well they couldn't have forced the Turks. So they will give us a way to save face -- we leave with their grudging gratitude, and they sigh with relief when we get the Turks to get out, also.)

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 28, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't be the first time A US conservative (Republican) administration has armed terrorists.

Republicans are the biggest sponsor of state-sponsored terrorism in the world.

Which makes it totally ironic when Bush, Boehner, and the rest of the hysterical GOP hypocrites rail against state-sponsored terrorism.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Congress' Armenian genocide resolution, certainly ill-timed, is really not the issue here. While it might offer its collective and often confused and disjointed opinions on such matters, Congress neither administers nor conducts American foreign policy. That is the responsibility of the President and the administration.

The issue is that Democrats preach the wisdom of more and more nuanced diplomatic outreach as part of a less bomby more talky foreign policy. The only way that works though is if American's have confidence that the Democrats have a)thought it through and b)have the skill to follow through. Pelosi's example shows that the Dems are tone-deaf on a) and are screw-ups on b). Now just because Pelosi is a wide-eyed idiot doesn't mean Hillary or Obama are, but it shows that the bench strength might be suspect.

Posted by: cynical joe on October 28, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

See this for info on US/PJAK cooperation:

Democracy Now

Or just google "PKK PJAK US arms" or some such combination...

Posted by: nepeta on October 28, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

How do you know it wasn't nuanced?

Turkey gets mad and stops letting the US supply the war in Iraq which further inhibits Bush's ability to continue the war in Iraq.

Or Turkey gets mad and makes Bush set a timetable for more speedy withdrawal as the price for continued supply routes.

I don't really see a down side here.

Turkey has never really been in favor of Bush's unilateral and illegal invasion of Iraq, so anything that pushes them away from their grudging support is a good thing.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really see a down side here.

You're kidding right? How about the downside of wide-ranging PKK-sponsored terrorism inside of Turkey? Turning Kurdistan into Lebanon? Thats not a downside? Thats why Dems aren't listened to for actual policy just feel-good Bush Bashing. But bash away by all means.

Posted by: cynical joe on October 28, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

What does the PKK have to do with the resolution on genocide by the Dems?

As explained above nothing.

The nuance clearly pertains to the resolution, a subject YOU brought up, not the PKK.

Try to keep up with your own comments.

It really makes everything much easier.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Draft Dodger in Chief will likely go down in the history books as the first occupier of the Oval Office to get us into a war with a NATO country.

Posted by: john_manyjars on October 28, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

I remember back in the halcyon days of the run-up to the war seeing a few people point out this Kurdistan-Turkey problem as a potential complication of a US invasion. That if we set the Iraqi Kurds free to pursue their own destiny in the world, they will inevitably decide that destiny includes Turkish Kurds, whereupon the Turks will be less than thrilled and will be compelled to do something about it, thus muddling Bush's otherwise brilliant plan for setting Iraq upon a course of free, liberal democracy.

Of course nobody but me paid the slightest attention to these eggheads, and look how wrong they were.

Posted by: Delia on October 28, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

What does the PKK have to do with the resolution on genocide by the Dems?

Mostly it goes to the political climate within Turkey. The Armenian resolution gets Turkey pissed off, so they're less amenable to suffer in silence when the PKK makes trouble, in fact Turkey announces that they're so mad that they aren't going to take it anymore and promise reprisal raids backed up by the propagandized populace. Now the US has to calm down the Turks, reign in the PKK, but not antagonize the Kurds all because Pelosi has some rich Californian donors that wanted their prid quo pro.

Posted by: cynical joe on October 28, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

The PKK and the genocide resolution are entirely separate issues and one has nothing to do with the other; the Turks were biting at the bit to get at the PKK long before the resolution was introduced and their anger on the issue of the PKK has to do with Bush letting them run free and probably also arming them, not the resolution.

Congress has had no say in or impact on Bush's failure to address, or make worse, the PKK issue.

If you think the Turks were spurred to action against the PKK by the resolution, you haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Check this out. So bizarre that Petraeus and his hacks must have been drunk when they wrote it.

Salon.com. Glenn Greenwald. SUNDAY OCTOBER 28, 2007 07:18 EST
“A bizarre, unsolicited email from Gen. Petraeus' spokesman”

If only drunkenness would explain WAPO's Hyatt's behavior, but sadly his behavior is more insidious-- deliberate deception and corruption.

Posted by: gill on October 28, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

I would think several dozen funerals of Turkish soldiers killed by PKK incursions, and the accompanying wailing, keening and demonstrations might have motivated Erdogan more than the resolution. The Pelosi's timing makes his meeting with GwB a shade more uncomfortable but not much more than that. Sunday's deadly attack on Turkish soldiers prompted outrage among citizens in Istanbul, Turkey, who took to the streets in protest.

The Kurds are focussed on the December referendum over Kirkuk. Forcing the US into action in the northwest isn't in anyone's interest but Turkey doesn't want to invade, they want some PKK blood to satisfy a restive populace. This isn't an invasion it's a defensive incursion. A sort of Cambodian walk around.

Posted by: TJM on October 28, 2007 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Furthermore, what are the odds that once 100,000 Turkish troops are unleashed, they'll only stay for a month or two and then get out?"

"Slim and none."

Perhaps you might expand upon why you're sure of this, Kevin? It's not clearly obvious to me, at least.

Posted by: Gary Farber on October 28, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Turks are making the rounds to find a coalition of the willing... to support Turkish incursions or hot pursuit into Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan warned on Sunday that Turkey could launch an attack on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq but failed to win the support of neighbouring Iran for a military strike.

They've gone to Saudi arabia, oo.

Posted by: TJM on October 28, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps you might expand upon why you're sure of this, Kevin[.]

Will the Turks eliminate all the Kurds during any such incursion?

Will the Turks invasion go as swimmingly as Bush's?

Has Bush eliminated the Iraqi insurgents?

Is there any end in sight to Bush's folly?

It's pretty clear to me, both the answers to the preceding questions and Kevin's proposition.

Posted by: anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ahem Kevin! My Ducks just kicked your Trojans all over the field (I was there). Carry on

Posted by: Don Beal on October 28, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

But of course Pelosi's Armenian declaration was Diplomatic genius, right? Yeah, Yeah, Bush is an idiot, push play on the Bush Derangement Wurlitzer, but Pelosi SHOULD have some 'splainin' to do.
Posted by: cynical joe

This resolution was kicked around the House for years, and was almost voted on in 2000--until President Clinton-D pressed Speaker Hastert-R to postpone a vote, out of concern for the effect on the relationship between the United States and Turkey.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 28, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist: I mean -- what, are we gonna dump the alliance with Turkey over this? We didn't over Cyprus.

Not a valid comparison. We really needed Turkey as one of our assholes, and not a Soviet asshole (administration rhetoric re the GWOT notwithstanding).

And how are we gonna accomodate a Turkish military presence in Iraq -- even as WE are trying to leave?

Coop them. This is the front-line in the GWOT, after all.

Prediction: this will actually, oddly, make it easier...

Yeah... if only if were between us and Turkey, that might work. But it's not.

Posted by: has407 on October 28, 2007 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Gary Farber: Perhaps you might expand upon why you're sure of this, Kevin? It's not clearly obvious to me, at least.

(1) Once begun, we have the age-old justification that "we've invested too much blood to stop now", "it would dishonor those who have given their lives", etc. (2) It's a reason to crack down on the Kurds within Turkey's own borders--an age-old problem, which also plays well to the law-and-order, anti-foreigner (it's all their fault) and us-first crowd. (3) It's a diversion from Turkey's current internal disputes.

Posted by: has407 on October 28, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

... Furthermore, what are the odds that once 100,000 Turkish troops are unleashed, they'll only stay for a month or two and then get out?

Kevin: I suggest you Google "Mexican-American War" for some insights. Though the scale of the US incursion then was obviously smaller, the [ostensible] motivation -- violent cross-border raids by non-governmental entities -- and the prevailing ALLIANCE of the two governing powers were remarkably similar to Turkey's present-day situation.

And guess what? The US forces soon left Mexico, just as the Turks would likely exit Iraqi Kurdistan once their objectives were accomplished or, as was America's case in Mexico, the "mission" proved a relative fiasco.

What leads you to believe that the alternative scenario -- a lengthy military presence -- is either deirable to the Turks or fairly "inevitable"? To me, such a supposition is extremely counter-intuitive, invoking an implausible scenario where Turkey actually considers itself at war with the US! (Not damn likely.)

Posted by: Poilu on October 28, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

"It's hard to back down when you've gotten to the point of deploying 100,000 troops and both the public and the legislature are baying for blood."

Sounds eerily reminiscent of our (at least of the ruling Republican) attitude in March 03. How dare the inspectors tell us there are no WMD -we've already invested in moving the invasion force into place. No way were we gonna quit without drawing blood.

Ohh, the unintended consequences that are unleashed by the decision to go to war! We can't put this genie back in its bottle. What a lesson in the cost of foolishness!

Posted by: bigTom on October 28, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

...because if the Turks invade Iraq while Bush is still in office, all hope of hanging the entire Iraq fiasco on his succesor go up in flames...
Posted by: Martin Gale on October 28, 2007 at 8:16 PM

...The Kurds are focussed on the December referendum over Kirkuk. Forcing the US into action in the northwest isn't in anyone's interest but Turkey doesn't want to invade, they want some PKK blood to satisfy a restive populace. This isn't an invasion it's a defensive incursion. A sort of Cambodian walk around...
Posted by: TJM on October 28, 2007 at 9:45 PM

...Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan warned on Sunday that Turkey could launch an attack on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq but failed to win the support of neighbouring Iran for a military strike...
Posted by: TJM on October 28, 2007 at 10:05 PM
^^^^^^^^^

Yes, yes, and that's interesting.

This leaves the Turks with nearly all of the cards. But, I don't think they are pinching us for money. Something else is up. First, the Turks know full well that we are aiding Kurdish rebels in our new quest to destabilize Iran. My theory is the Turks are going to threaten our supply lines into Iraq and possibly our bases as well (possibly even NATO membership) to put a stop to our designs on using the Kurds in our twisted Iranian scheme that we are cooking up. You see, our invasion of Iraq caused nothing but more headaches for the Turks (that's why they opposed it-and I think we were just honestly too STUPID to understand WHY). It is threatening their integrity as a country down the road. If we pull off an Iranian fiasco, it is going to empower the Kurds even more and create even more headaches for them. I think the Turks are going to try to put the kabosh on our Iranian attack plan.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on October 29, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

It's interesting to see all the sympathy here for Turkey. Forgetting for a moment the Armenian genocide issue (which so many PA commenters seem inclined to ignore for current political expediency), Turkey's Kurdish problem is not very different from Serbia's Kosovo problem. In both cases, an ethnic group has a majority in one region of the country, alleges discrimination and oppression, and demands independence.

Can someone explain why enlightened American liberals should support independence for Kosovo -- but not for the Kurds of Turkey? The US State Department considered the Kosovo KLA to be a terrorist organization, until the Clinton administration decided that it was really a national liberation group. The PKK is a similar organization, but now we consider it to be a bunch of terrorists.

And, if anything, the Kurds' claim to the territory of SE Turkey is stronger than the claim of the Kosovars. Because the Kurds have lived there since ancient times (before the Turks arrived as invaders), whereas the Kosovars settled in Serbia very recently, in the 20th century.

As for condoning a Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq in pursuit of the PKK, it has been argued (by cmdicely here, among others) that the justification for the US bombing of Serbia under Clinton was that Serbia crossed the border to Albania in pursuit of KLA isurgents.

So how do we justify looking at the Kosovars as a people who deserve their independence while the Kurds of Turkey are terrorists for claiming the same thing and taking similar action to achieve it?

Posted by: JS on October 29, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, if we discard our own nationalistic blinders, Turkey's grievance and proposed "solution" sounds remarkably familiar, doesn't it?? (Just think Afghanistan, at least the official US pretext for that invasion.):

Bush's Blind Eye
By Dilip Hiro [The Guardian]

It is a clear-cut case of terrorism. The guerrillas of the Turkish Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK, Kurdistan Workers Party), wedded to achieving autonomy for the Kurdish-majority region, and operating from the mountains of northern Iraq, have recently killed 42 Turks, soldiers and civilians.

Repeated appeals by the Turkish government to the central authority in Baghdad and the Bush administration, the occupying power in Iraq, to close down the PKK bases in Iraqi Kurdistan and hand over its leaders to it have gone unheeded.

Indeed, the response of the Iraqi Kurdish leaders has been defiant. Following his meeting with Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan regional government, in the Kurdish city of Suleimaniya, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd, said: "Handing over PKK leaders to Turkey is a dream that will never be realised ... We will not hand any Kurdish man to Turkey, or even a Kurdish cat."

While Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish leaders are engaged in a robust repartee, the United States administration, from President George Bush down, publicly warns the democratically elected government of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against an incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan to root out PKK camps.

Washington's stance appears blatantly illogical to the Turkish leadership.

"Turkey is implementing the same international rules that were implemented by those who linked the attacks on the twin towers to some organisation," explained Turkish justice minister Mehmet Ali Sahin. ...
.

Posted by: Poilu on October 29, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

For the Bushies, seeing Turkish soldiers in Iraq is actually an improvement over watching the Iranians fill the power vacuum we've created. I expect the Bush administration to follow its usual pattern of attempting those things that yield an immediate domestic political advantage.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on October 29, 2007 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

My sources say that Erdogan is just sending a message to put pressure on the Carlyle Group to increase the salary and shares they are offering him.

Posted by: jerry on October 29, 2007 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Can someone explain why enlightened American liberals should support independence for Kosovo -- but not for the Kurds of Turkey?

Perhaps while they're at it, they can explain to me why American history generally regards the US Civil War as a "noble" endeavor for the Union. Milosevic basically was following directly in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln by attempting to "preserve the union" -- his union of Yugoslavia.

That preservation of the status quo was the sole rationale, originally and for an extended period of the Civil War, for the North's pursuit of that conflict. The Confederate States sought independence, a la "self-determination of native peoples" (as Woodrow Wilson would later put it). The Federal government, however, rejected the autonomy of the CSA "secessionists".

Yet history doesn't condemn Lincoln for his militaristic repression of a people's quest for self-determination! Go figure, eh?

Posted by: Poilu on October 29, 2007 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Message to MatthewMarler (if he still posts here):

Still think the Turkish incursion into Iraq will "never happen"? I've been posting about this happening for nearly four years, MM, and all the time it's been getting closer and closer.

A slow motion train wreck is all the more excrutiating because the sick anticipation lasts so much longer...

Posted by: floopmeister on October 29, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

JS:"the justification for the US bombing of Serbia under Clinton was that Serbia crossed the border to Albania in pursuit of KLA isurgents."

Maybe some people justify the attack on Serbia that way; I don't even think that is proven.

The main reason for the attack, for me, was the ongoing murder and ethnic cleansing taking place in Kosovo. That said, there was never or should never have been a motive to strip Kosovo from Serbia. Once the region was stabilized and the worst offenders on both sides were brought to justice, Kosovo's governance should have been returned to Serbia.

No one benefits from more and more tiny little ethnic enclave countries.

Posted by: Dirk on October 29, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Still think the Turkish incursion into Iraq will "never happen"? I've been posting about this happening for nearly four years, MM, and all the time it's been getting closer and closer.

And I have had your back a great deal of that time! (::smiling and waving:: How the hell are ya Floop? Ready for summer?)

I would seriously like to be wrong about some of this stuff for a change. How bout you?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on October 29, 2007 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

GC - I'm well. How are you?

Haven't been around much... had other priorities (son, travel and novel).

Love to be wrong about some of this stuff, because then I'd be eligible to get a job as a foreign affairs expert on cable news or in our respective governments!

Posted by: floopmeister on October 29, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Floop,

I'm doing well, and glad to hear you are, too.

Amen about the job prospects if we could tone down out batting average a bit!

Now for waht matters...The little guy has either recently had or will be having his first birthday, right?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on October 29, 2007 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Nope - he's over 15 months now...

He just got back from a trip to NZ with his Mum.

Time flies, hey?

Posted by: floopmeister on October 29, 2007 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! I could have sworn he was a newborn just last week! So he is walking and talking and climbing and in general getting into all manner of mischief. Good on him! (I guess it was almost a year ago he got his passport. And has already set about collecting stamps for it!)

Give my love to him and his mum, and you know I send it to you as well! I'm glad I decided to check the threads before I turned in, I would have missed you.

(Do I get a signed first edition of the novel? ;)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on October 29, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

JS, There is not a lot to indicate a groundswell of support among the Kurds of SE Turkey for independence. Before the 80's the Kurds were more ignored than oppressed. I believe that the PKK in the 80's and 90's was supported heavily by the Soviet Union. With the collapse of that state, there is very little desire in the South East to abandon the Turkish teat. (Ankara is funding a lot of infrastructure in the South East, including several dams.)

The recent PKK attacks highlight their limited appeal. Most of the attacks have happened within a few miles of the border, they do not seem to be able to support deep penetration of, or operations in, Turkey.

My personal connections in the area also don't seem to be very supportive of independence or of alliance with Kurdistan.

As for the Armenian issue, I am very dubious of their claims of "genocide." They don't really earn my trust by claiming 2 Mlliion killed when the Turkish census records only had 1 Million living in the area. Furthermore, they don't seem to be able to come up with any public statement by the Ottomans advocating genocide, nor any clean policy records proposing it. Also, it would be an odd type of genocide that only targeted people in one-third of the country, but ignored Armenians in the rest of the country. And there is the tax question. But this thread isn't about all this.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 29, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

As far as the proposed Turkish incursion into Kurdistan - I mean Iraq - goes, the problem that many folks on this thread have is that they regard an attack as equal to occupation. There are many different things the Turks could do, ranging from bombing with their state-of-the-art air force, to a classic SAS style strike, to a full-on assault. But their generals are smarter than our president, and, especially with our on-going example before them, do not want to attempt to occupy a hostile, well-armed state. Especially against the wishes of one of their major allies and arms suppliers (that'd be US).

The PKK, of course, has first rate weapons, courtesy of (knowing or unknowing) the US Army, as well as Israeli-trained tacticians and geography.

My understanding is that the Turkish Army has pretty good intelligence on the PKK camps, but they are heavily fortified in inaccessible mountains. Given the natural conservative nature of Generals, they will probably opt for air attacks followed by an incursion in force if necessary. The PKK, on the other hand, will hope for something they can call a military victory before they fade back into the population. This will allow the Turks to declare a temporary victory and retire to their positions on and immediately over the border.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 29, 2007 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

Nice to see some folks think things through -- before the war, I used to say just two things: 1) That once Bush said Saddam's gotta go, he had to go, cuz I want the bad guys of the world to believe US presidents when they say stuff like that (a good reason not to have voted for Nader), and 2) wars are easier to start than to finish. When cheerleaders for the war bitched about #2, I used to say that Iraq was more likely to fall apart than any other result: as a Shi'ite country governed by Sunnis, with the Kurds that we've sold out time and again eager for a new opportunity to get sold out again.

In some ways, Iraq is sorta the mirror image of Saudi Arabia, where the Sunnis are the majority but all the oil is under the Shi'ite minority. (Some historian is gonna write one day that the great revelation for Iraqis was that the Sunnis aren't on top of any oil.) Neither Saudia Arabia nor Iran was likely to be neutral as the violent transfer of power and wealth ground on, and Turkey had more skin in the game than anybody. War opponents didn't like #1, and cheerleaders definitely didn't like #2.

Sucks.

407 and Poilu (who is otherwise dumb and vile) seem to half-agree that while Turkey COULD stay as long as they wanted, they might well be persuaded to leave after beating hell out of the Kurds.

Figure out the dynamic, folks: if Turkey goes in, WE go from being a belligerent occupying power to the broker for peace that has all the levers.

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 29, 2007 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK
Figure out the dynamic, folks: if Turkey goes in, WE go from being a belligerent occupying power to the broker for peace that has all the levers. theAmericanist at 8:04 AM
Only in your fantasies. Bush's general has promised to do nothing

…Responding to a question on what the U.S. military will do to the PKK, Major General Benjamin Mixon, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq, told reporters at Pentagon via videolink from Iraq that his forces will do "absolutely nothing."…
Nilgun Gulcan, Turkish social scientist, warned the US that Turkey cannot be sensitive against the anti-US terrorists anymore if the US continues to ignore the PKK terrorists in Iraq. It is obvious that the PKK terrorism damages severely the Turkish-US relations.

In addition, there is the support that the US gives to PEJAK and PKK which also doesn't endear Bush foreign policy to the Turks.

Posted by: Mike on October 29, 2007 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Mike, I can't tell if you're disputing what you don't understand, or simply clueless.

The DYNAMIC is that we have an ally by formal treaty, that is (perhaps) about to have a shooting war with something like an ally, in a third country where we are struggling with the burdens of a military occupation during a civil war.

The Kurds, at least, will damn sure want the Turks to go. Other Iraqis have some historical memory that the last time the Turks showed up, they stayed for centuries.

So they will no longer just want US to leave (for which lots of folks were prepared to gloat). They will also want the Turks to leave -- and I'm predicting, won't be so eager to gloat about getting US out, if we take the Turks with us.

The likelihood that the Turks won't want to stay long just makes the dynamic all the more favorable.

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 29, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

"I sure hope Bush has some serious magic up his sleeve for his meeting with Erdogan a week from Monday."

It is to laugh. I expect he will look into Erdogan's eyes and see his soul.

"We aren't WE enforcing border security up in the northern provinces adjoining Turkey?"

Because we don't have the troops to do so. We only have enough troops in Iraq to put out fires here and there. With the Kurds not shooting at US, there's no way we're going to deploy more troops up there. Besides which, the Kurds are just about the only ethic group in Iraq that is (relatively) friendly to the US.

We're really between a rock and a hard place in Kurdistan, just another obvious problem the Little Idiot and his Puppetmaster overlooked in invading Iraq.

Posted by: Cal Gal on October 29, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

theAm, I can't tell if you're disputing what you don't understand, or simply clueless.

Sure we have plenty of levers. For the Turks, we could wag our fingers at them and look mad. Or we could close Incirlik and find some other route to supply our forces in Iraq. Or we could pay them a (another?) billion dollars to leave. In any event, we look weak.

For the Kurds, we could wag our fingers at them. We could stop shipping arms to the PKK - I mean the Kurdish security forces. Or we could send troops to protect the border against incursions from both sides - if we had any troops to spare.

The rest of the Iraqis will, rightly, regard this as a Kurdish problem that they brought on themselves and will continue on with their normal routines.

The only real salutory effect I can see is that it might drive the Kurds into actually pretending to be part of Iraq and stop them from conducting independent foreign policy.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 29, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

mcdruid, I don't have personal contacts there (as you do), but I do know that there have been a number of Kurdish rebellions against Turkey and the most recent one, in the 1980s, resulted in almost 40,000 dead and, according to reports, 3,000 Kurdish villages being destroyed by the Turks -- with hundreds of thousands of Kurds relocating. (Compare this to what the Serbs did in Kosovo).

This BBC article, dated Oct. 26 2007, says: Kurdish political leaders will tell you (in private) that at least 80% of their people support the rebels and are proud if a family member is "living in the mountains."

The Christian Science Monitor reported last June: Broad Kurdish disillusion means more than 50 percent of Kurds believe the PKK "represents their rights," estimates Mr. Elci, though only 10 to 20 percent support killings.

The PKK has not always fought for independence -- at some point they modified their demands to ask for better integration of the Kurds in Turkish society. But the Turks still refused to deal with them, and until recently refused also to accept that there is a Kurdish ethnic identity (they prohibited the Kurdish language from being used and taught, etc.).

To be sure, revolutionary calls for independence (or even emancipation within a country) are not supported by everyone affected. There were Americans who thought that the American Revolution was a bad idea too. But with oil now in the hands of Iraqi Kurds, the whole "teat" calculus may be changing.

Posted by: JS on October 29, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- mcD, if you think all we can do is wag our fingers and look mad, you need to read more defense budgets.

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 29, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

JS,

I don't know how much credence I would put in unnamed "Kurdish political leaders" speaking "in private."

Secondly, the relocation was the result of fleeing from PKK violence as well as Turkish government policies.

And don't go so much by the statements about what is prohibited. My wife, and most of her siblings, have Kurdish names, supposedly forbidden. Most of the small villages speak nothing but Kurdish. Turkey is trying its best to form a Turkish national identity, so it would like everybody to be able to speak the same language.Much of the suppression of the language etc, is a result of the insurgency.

My wife grew up in the South East, by the way, missing out on entire school years because of the PKK's propensity to shoot teachers, and staying inside to avoid the stray machine gun fire. I don't think many want to return to that period.

Nor do I think the Turkish Kurds believe in being saved by the Kirkuk oil fields. They generally regard the Iraqi Kurds as wankers. The Turkish kurds are also extremely conservative, so are unlikely to sit well with the more free-wheeling Iraqis. Nor, as I pointed out before, do I see much political gain for the Iraqi Kurds to extend sufferage to the much more numerous Turkish Kurds. And, finally, Kirkuk may have oil, but it doen't do much good unless they can export it. They don't have many good options for building pipelines.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 29, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

theAm,

Are you suggesting that we would attack Turkey? A fellow NATO member? The biggest army in Europe? One of the most advanced airforces around? Linchpin to our ME policy?

If that is what you are suggesting, you are a complete idiot.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 29, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the personal perspective mcdruid, appreciated. The same sources I mentioned above do also mention the attitudes you described -- Kurds who detest the PKK because some of its violence was directed against them (for refusing to collaborate). See, for example:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0706/p06s02-wosc.html

But my sense from what I have read is that this is not the majority.

Incidentally, my point was not that the US should be supporting every ethnic group that wants independence. That, as another commenter pointed out above, would lead to a very dangerous world. But what we seem to be doing is to support ethnic independence movements only in cases where the state to which the ethnic group now belongs is an adversary of ours. No principle, in other words -- only expediency. I personally do not believe that this is a good recipe by which to govern the world as the sole superpower.

Posted by: JS on October 29, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

JS,

I agree. It would be interesting to see what the results of a referandum on succession would be in the SE. Kurdistan would have to agree to accept them first, though, which I think would be unlikely.

There are, of course, layers here that we don't get much of a hint of in the west. Much political power in the SE is wielded by organized crime tied to certain families such as the Bucak clan. The clans pull in blocks of votes for their party in return for a certain "latitude" in running the area. Their party was the DYP, but I am not up on who they support now. As a result, the Turkish government has not been very credible at cracking down on their gangs. (Their private armies were also useful in suppressing the PKK.) All this goes to jumble the issue of what is wanted by the populace and what is workable.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 29, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

No, that's not what I'm suggesting. (There must be something about Monthly threads that makes folks seek out the stooopidest available argument.)

But the truth is, Turkey doesn't mind having a problem with us, cuz a problem can be managed, probably to their advantage. They DON'T want a conflict with us, cuz that can't be resolved, and is much harder to manage. That's why historically, sooner or later (see Kissinger), we've always wound up selling out the Kurds. It's not just cuz Turkey is more valuable to us -- it's also cause we have considerable value to Turkey.

So we have all kinds of leverage with Turkey, as we do with the Kurds and even Iraq -- so long as we recognize that we don't have enough leverage to get anybody to do something that they genuinely cannot tolerate.

If Turkey invades Iraq to whack the Kurds, that poses some seriously problematic situations -- but I frankly see it as more of an opportunity than you guys do, I suspect. But I have reasons:

1) Turkey isn't gonna do an occupation. They will show the Kurds that they can drive in and drive out whenever they want, which will have I expect a salutory effect, and that's all they want.

2) So there will be no need for there to be a conflict between our interests in supporting the Kurds within Iraq, and Turkey's desire to show 'em what's what. WE'RE not gonna get in the way -- which the Kurds will note.

3) By the time a Turkish incursion resolves itself and it comes time for Turkey to get out, therere will be (insha'allah) a new administration in Washington, which will LEAP at the chance to do bigtime, force-separating diplomacy.

I suppose you guys disagree: but I don't see HOW. I'm not saying nothing could go wrong -- but I don't see anybody with an obvious motive to derail the dynamic, either: Iran? the Russians? The Iraqis?

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 29, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

No, that's not what I'm suggesting. (There must be something about Monthly threads that makes folks seek out the stooopidest available argument.)

See Norman Rogers, Al, ex-liberal, charlie, or any of the many other stoopids that have come galloping through these halls.

In any event, the simplest, best fit conclusion to your 5:31 statement is that we are in a position to use force against Turkey. If you don't want to be taken for an idiot, make better arguments.

And frankly, I'm not very impressed with your more detailed exegesis of 10:39 either. You are almost as ambiguous of the positive results as your previous postings. And there are problems with each of your points.

Let's take them in turn.

Aside from selling them weapons and giving them bribes, we don't have a lot to offer Turkey.

#1. Yes I expect that Turkey will do a pretty good job of bop-the-mole, but the PKK is probably well prepared for that. Firstly, there is the chance that they will slip in some sort of a surprise that will bloody the nose of the Turkish military. The threat is obvious, they've had a long time to prepare and they have excellent access to weaponry and advice. Secondly, I'd expect the Turkish mallet to hit a lot of empty sand as the PKK melt back into the populace. Provoking an expensive yet ineffectual attack by Turkey might help raise their status in the rest of Kurdistan.

#2. We've got to arm the Kurdish security forces but not arm the PKK. So far we haven't figured out how to do this. There is already, therefore, a conflict between our Kurdish interests and Turkey.

#3. The Turks could go in tomorrow and be out by November. The likeliest immediate force projection would be a quick F-16 raid. Reapply when necessary. Our diplomacy, Shrub's or the next gal's, will have to resolve the same problem as now: how do we stop the PKK attacks? Basically, your #1 and #3 are contradictory.

(On the other hand, the next administration probably won't be as belligerent towards Iran, and thus cut the flow of arms to Kurdish insurgents there - and by extension to the PKK in Turkey.)

In any event, the critical question is whether a Turkish incursion will drive Arbil to crack down on the PKK. My crystal ball does not see a clearcut answer to that question.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 30, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm, that first sentence should have been italic. I messed up the html again.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 30, 2007 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Death to metaphors (and I actually own a real crystal ball, not that anybody asked: pure quartz, sits on my mantel).

MacD, your critical question finally gets to the place where SOME of us started this line of thinking: I take it more or less as a given that supporting the Kurds as a ... critter, or whatever they are within the New and Improved Iraq, effectively means supporting Kurds who want to mug Turkey on behalf of Turkish Kurds.

So right there, you have the principal lever we have to influence Turkey.

Nice to see you catching on.

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 30, 2007 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

So we have a lever on Turkey because we could stop arming the Kurds? And we haven't done that before now because we want the Turks to invade? Why don't you come back when you can make a decent argument?

Posted by: mcdruid on October 30, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, we don't conduct foreign policy as a binary switch on/switch off thing.

We can give the Kurds more and better arms -- or not.

We can do a nearly limitless set of favors for Turkey -- or not.

We can mix and match what we do: a little of this, a little of that. As just one f'r instance (cuz I doubt you're as stooopid as you're trying to be), should the Turks rely on air strikes, the Kurds may ask us for anti-aircraft technology. I don't think we'd say yes -- but I also doubt we'd say NO, either, until we had heard the Turks express their concern.

Kurds ask us for stuff, Turks ask us not to provide it: that's what leverage looks like.

No, we don't want the Turks to invade Iraq to whack the Kurds. (We did want 'em to HELP us more when WE did, which of course they declined to do.)

If the Turks DO invade Iraq, you're probably right that this will be a whack-a-mole thing, but it will seriously tear up a big chunk of Kurdistant, ESPECIALLY if, as you properly suggest, the Kurds' objective is simply to make it as expensive as possible for 'em.

I'm just pointing to the dynamic that would result from a Turkish invasion: instead of just wanting US to get out, the Iraqis will have TWO foreign armies whom they want to leave.

Since we're one of 'em, and we'd be allies with the other one AND also want 'em to leave (cuz we do have a good thing going with the Kurds, too), that dynamic naturally tends to favor us.

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 30, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

OK, now you have finally stated a specific and we can see just exactly wrong you are.

NO,we will not give anti-aircraft to the Kurds. The only planes up there are our planes -- the Turks fly exactly the same equipment we do. We do not let some yahoos get the technology to shoot down our own stuff.

Secondly, since we would be giving it to them with the implied consent to shoot down allied planes, this amounts to selling out our friends. It seriously undercuts any credibility we have with all our allies and putative allies around the world.

Thirdly, the Turkish response would be to close down Incirlik as well as our Northern supply routes. With Japan's ceasing to supply oil in the South India Sea, this might break our supply lines.

Heck, what's to stop Turkey from providing anti-aircraft weapons to Iraqi "security" forces?

No, there are not a whole lot of favors we can do Turkey. They control critical resources in the area, and we depend on them more than they on us. Come on, there are reports that we had to resort to bribing them to keep them from attacking last summer.

In general, your unclear and shallowly developed arguments seem to actually hide fuzzy and uncritical thinking. I won't even bother trying to parse the logic in your last paragraph.

Posted by: mcdruid on October 30, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I noted: "Kurds ask us for stuff, Turks ask us not to provide it: that's what leverage looks like."

Mac replied: "there are not a whole lot of favors we can do Turkey ... we had to resort to bribing them to keep them from attacking last summer."

You DO realize you can't get through a paragraph without contradicting yourself, Mac?

Posted by: theAmericanist on October 30, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ignoring the bulk of my argument to pick on a single point? Sophistic, at the very least.

The size of the reported bribe was a Billion dollars. That's a pretty expensive favor.

Granted it is a rounding error in the cash being stuffed into the Iraq dike, but it is still more than we can continue to pay. Besides, the tenor of the Turkish populace was that it wasn't worth it. So next time are we going to offer 10 Billion?

Posted by: mcdruid on October 30, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

. . !

Posted by: Soydayassauth on October 17, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

-,

Posted by: SahCreelmsare on October 31, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

- , , .;)

Posted by: fleedulky on November 2, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

, , .

Posted by: Kaganaennylab on November 4, 2008 at 4:49 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly