Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 27, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

TIMETABLES....The Bush administration has finally agreed on a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged the Turkish military on Wednesday to abandon its invasion of guerrilla-controlled lands in the northernmost reaches of Iraq by mid-March.

.... "It's very important that the Turks make this operation as short as possible and then leave," Mr. Gates told reporters in India on Wednesday...."I measure quick in terms of days, a week or two, something like that, not months," Mr. Gates said, becoming the first senior American official to demand a strict timeline for the Turkish operation to end.

Oops. Wrong troops. Sorry about that. But apparently it worked:

Turkey's military operations against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq will last another three or four days, a senior Turkish official said yesterday, after Washington called for a speedy end to the incursion...."Ten days will be a good enough time for the operation. It has been going on now for six or seven days, so another three or four days should wrap it up," the official said.

Our concern, entirely reasonably, is that military action is predictably unpredictable and an extended intervention risks destabilizing northern Iraq and widening into a broader and deadlier conflict. I wonder why nobody thinks of this stuff when we're the ones doing the intervening?

Kevin Drum 7:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

Wars are a lot like Roach Motels™.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 27, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

How do you say "Friedman Unit" in Turkish?

Posted by: lampwick on February 27, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

You know the answer. We are the US of A and everything we do is above reproach and right by definition. It is for us to control and pass judgment on others.

Posted by: dms on February 27, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Penn is a true giant among campaign consultants. Why, even his motto is "fee-high-faux-Shrum."

Posted by: lampwick on February 27, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we could rent the Turkish Army for our next invasion -- they get it done quicker. Nah, there's no profit in that. Bad idea.

Posted by: Don Bacon on February 27, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Because Republicans and their enablers are simply not qualified to run foreign policy.

Or domestic policy.

Or even your basic food bank.

Letting Republicans made decisions is like letting your dog navigate. He can't read the map, he has no concept of the future, and since his speech is merely incoherent barking you can be certain his directions suck.

Posted by: the on February 27, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

What Al said. Um, don't we have some sort of mutual-protection agreement with the freely democratically elected government of Iraq? Or at least a unilateral understanding that we should defend their territory? Seeing as how we're the only armed force in the country capable of defending it from outside aggressors. Otherwise, the freely democratically empowered citizens of Iraq might think that the Army in their streets might be fore some other purpose, and freely democratically elect to invite us to get out.

Posted by: anonymous on February 27, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Al, you fucking moron. I thought you were all hot-and-bothered to hunt down scary terrorists and kill them? That is what the Turks are doing. The PKK is a terrorist organization, and over the last two decades, they have killed more than ten times as many Turks as the United States lost on September 11. Our NATO ally Turkey is a little bit pissed off that we have not only tolerated the presence of these Kurdish terrorists, but they ahve been subsidized and given safe haven. Of course, they like to make forays into Iran and commit terrorist acts, too, and the US approves of terrorism against Iran...

Anyway, want to give up Incirlik? I don't. I happen to think Incirlik is every bit as critical today as it has ever been, and I don't want to give it up. Especially with Russia acting up these days.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 27, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Um... Doesn't setting a deadline for withdrawal just encourage the terrorists to hunker down and wait out the storm?

Posted by: Marc in Denver on February 27, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Because W is The Intervenor, Kev.

C'mon, bro. Next question.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 27, 2008 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why Bush isn't celebrating the fact that he finally got another NATO ally to join us in hunting down terrorists in Iraq, now we really can forget Poland.

Posted by: Boronx on February 27, 2008 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

The whole thing is a bit surreal, we are claimed to approve of this incursion, and supposedly are giving the Turks intelligence. I suspect we really really really don't like what they are doing, but have agreed to give them assistance in exchange for limitations on what they (Turks) can do. Cause if we didn't there would be hell to pay.

Posted by: bigTom on February 27, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

But won't the al Qaeda that are fighting the Turks just wait until the day after they leave and declare victory? I thought this point had been made over 1 billion times by now. Oh, that only applies to the US, not the Turks. Or something.

Posted by: Orson on February 27, 2008 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

No irony here - no siree..

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 27, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

What if the Turks decide to have a Surge?

Posted by: R.L. on February 27, 2008 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

People in Europe were probably yukking it up at our expense because we were letting the Turkish army run wild in Iraq without any agreement about what it was going to do or when it was going to leave. Being laughed at or ridiculed by the Europeans is the only reason why someone like Gates would step forward and announce that he was calling for some common-sense measures, some formality, like this. Otherwise he'd let a friendly hun have every chicken in the henhouse.

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

So, how many Kurds live in Turkey and when were they finally allowed to teach their own language to their kids?

"Most Kurds live in Turkey, where their numbers are estimated somewhere between 11,400,000 and 15,000,000 people."

"Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. . . . "

"In March 2006, Turkey allowed private television channels to begin airing Kurdish language programming. However, the Turkish government said that they must avoid showing children's cartoons, or educational programs that teach the Kurdish language, and can only broadcast for 45 minutes a day or four hours a week. The programs must carry Turkish subtitles." --Wikipedia

Maybe there is a reason the Kurds of Turkey are angry.

Posted by: deejaayss on February 28, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Oh no, the Europeans are laughing at us and not in awe of us? What a tragedy. This has to do with, like, vital national interests. Somebody, do something quick."

Posted by: Swan on February 28, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

R.L.: What if the Turks decide to have a Surge?

That's essentially what they're doing. Turkey has had hundreds(?) of troops scattered across several "bases" in Northern Iraq since before 2003.

They are no strangers to the Peshmerga in those areas. Heck, there were Iraqi demonstrations recently outside at least one of the Turkish "bases" because of recent Turkish actions.


p.s. I use the term "base" loosely as most seem to be fortified forward operating hilltop posts with some artillery, maybe a few tanks or APCs, and some infantry.

Posted by: has407 on February 28, 2008 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Maybe there is a reason the Kurds of Turkey are angry."

Well, the ones in Turkey don't really seem to be angry. In a recent poll in the Turkish SE (around 90% Kurdish): "Only 2.2 percent of respondents said there is a discrimination problem and only 1.8 percent said the Kurdish question is a problem."

There is not a lot of support for, or love of the Iraqi Kurds.

Posted by: mcdruid on February 28, 2008 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

Marc in Denver: Um... Doesn't setting a deadline for withdrawal just encourage the terrorists to hunker down and wait out the storm?

Orson: But won't the al Qaeda that are fighting the Turks just wait until the day after they leave and declare victory? I thought this point had been made over 1 billion times by now. Oh, that only applies to the US, not the Turks. Or something.

Orson, I believe it's the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group, that the Turks are fighting. However your point about the timetable remains valid. The Turks are on the same page as McCain as far as timetables go.

Ahmet Davutoglu, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Wednesday that there was no “timetable” for ending the operation. Meeting in Baghdad with Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, Mr. Davutoglu warned that the operation would not stop until P.K.K. bases inside Iraq were “eliminated.”

You stay until you win. I'm sure it's only a matter of days until Mr. Davutoglu is quoted as saying it's fine with him if Turkish troops are in Iraq for a hundred years, or ten thousand years, by golly gosh. Victory! Is Gates some kind of Loser?

Posted by: cowalker on February 28, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else find it extremely funny (while being ever so sad) that the US defense Sect. has urged Turkey to get out of Iraq quickly?

Posted by: George on February 28, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

There's the answer.

Everybody needs to write to their nearest Turkish embassy/cosulate asking them to demand that the U.S. pull its troops out in a set time.

Posted by: Lew Wolkoff on February 28, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK
I see Kevin doesn't recognize the difference between the fact that our military presence in Iraq is approved by the freely democratically elected government of Iraq while Turkey's military forces were opposed by the freely democratically elected government.

So the Turkish invasion will be retroactively justified if they overthrow the government we have established in Iraq and, after a few years of redistributing power in the country to handpicked groups that they favor, hold new elections to form a government that then approves the Turkish presence?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Turks should tell the U.S. that there will be success and victory in about ... oh, six months or so.

It seems to work for our professional pundit class ...

Posted by: Mark D on February 28, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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