Sunday, April 29, 2007

Call me a mushy-headed liberal, but I don't think you are supposed to treat your friends this way...

It is high time that America takes a hard look at what is happening in Turkey – and accept some responsibility. The internal struggles in Turkey are a direct result of Bush’s pathetic foreign policy. Some folks seem to think that once an ally, always an ally, Turkey is a member of NATO, and wants to join the EU, so screw ‘em – we’ll do what we want and they will like it. And even if they don’t, who cares?

That is a dangerous position to operate from, and nearly impossible to defend.

Turkey is every bit as important as an ally today as it was during the Cold War. It is the only secular and Democratic Islamic state, and the Turks in general have looked favorably on America and the freedoms enjoyed by our people. Turkey is a vital counter-balance to the Islamic fundamentalism that many middle-eastern states espouse. After a long military dictatorship, they began to taste and enjoy the freedoms Americans take for granted for themselves. But foreign policy cock-ups by the gang that can’t shoot straight have threatened Turkey on so many levels…

First of all, the Turks are none to thrilled to have a civil war raging on their south-east border. They are also understandably apprehensive about the emboldened muscle the Kurds are flexing, too.

The quasi-independence of the Iraqi Kurds has become a flashpoint for Kurdish nationalism. Kurdish terrorists are using Iraq as a base for attacks inside Turkey. This situation has prompted the Turkish military to publicly threaten that they will cross the border and clear out terrorist bases.

(I, for one, am horrified at the prospect of the Turkish Army rolling into Northern Iraq and engaging the Peshmerga. The Turks, of course, would annihilate the Kurdish forces. But oh, good God, that would be a bloody, brutal clash, the likes of which modern humanity has not beheld. The brutality that the world would witness would likely be the envy of the Serbian butchers of the 1990’s.)

These rumblings from the Turkish armed forces has led the United States to issue stern warnings, urging the Turks not to do it, and a heavy blast of anti-American editorials in Turkish newspapers, accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy. The Turks, of course, justifiably question why the U.S. can chase "terrorists" 6,000 miles away, but have the temerity to tell the Turks they can’t do so, when they are fighting terrorist on their own border.

Turkey has national elections coming up this year, and the negative perception of the United States in Turkey – only 12% of Turks have a positive view of America, down from 52% before the Iraq war – stands to influence the elections unfavorably. Apprehension is high that the Islamic party will consolidate it’s power on the country by electing an Islamic party president.

Complicating matters further, the Turkish military has weighed in and asserted that the country will remain secular, even if it does so at gunpoint. They have warned that if an Islamic party president is elected, a coup is a done deal.

It’s freakin’ surreal when you contemplate the possibility that a Middle Eastern nation with over 80% of the country practicing Muslims threatens a coup to prevent an Islamic government from taking power.

And today, a million people took to the streets to protest the trend away from secularism.

We need to be paying attention to this, and taking input from our ally seriously – or we may not have that ally anymore. This is a huge deal people. Turkey is strategically, culturally, geographically, politically - (hell I could come up with adjectives until sundown) - important. If George Bush manages to go ahead and screw us out of that alliance, we may just end up going the way of the Ottomans. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

[Cross-posted to Watching Those We Chose]

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