Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Turkey is preparing for "military incursions" (otherwise known as an invasion) of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Bush administration apparently has no plans to oppose this, probably because there is very little that they could do about it in any event (I don't know if they feel any obligation to protect the Kurds, I'd guess not). The spin is that the Turks will be doing "hot pursuit" incursions in battling domestic Kurdish insurgents from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), but this is also transparent spin: there are a number of Kurdish nationalist groups and widespread Kurdish nationalist sentiment in southeastern Turkey. Turkey wants to quash a nationalist movement that is resurgent because of the new autonomy (and surprising success) of Iraqi Kurdistan. Today the NYT reports that the administration is opposing a UN resolution condemning the Armenian genocide of 90 years ago so as not to antagonize Turkey, a rather less muscular approach than warning the Turks to stay out of Iraq would be. Part of the administration's thinking is driven by Turkey's historic role in NATO, which the United States would like to preserve and strengthen as a response to the rise of the European Union. That's a bad motivation for two reasons: first, NATO is on the way out: the Europeans don't want it anymore and in fact it would be a good thing for the US to get out of the European security business (I'm surprised that the Pentagon is so unsophisticated on this one, usually they're out ahead of the Bushies with this stuff). The second is that Turkey, in case you haven't noticed, is arguably a contender for most anti-American place on Earth. The reason for this, I think, is Turkey's identity as a borderland between Europe and Asia. The Turks have both the Middle Eastern and the European versions of anti-Americanism. Turkey is today a lot like Pakistan: not necessarily our enemies, not necessarily our friends. We shouldn't be dealing with them by just buying them off, and we shouldn't let the Kurds ever again suffer like they suffered at the end of the first Gulf War.

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