The Discerning Texan
All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
-- Edmund Burke
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Should the US hope for a limited Turkish incursion into Northern Iraq to take out the PKK? The Editors of National Review seem to think that is the lesser of several evils:
Those strategists who denounce Turkey for failing to join the U.S. intervention in Iraq might notice that Ankara has nonetheless helped our effort by making Incirlik available. America’s interests in all this are fairly plain. First, we need to keep Turkey as an ally. It is almost the sole stable element in an unstable but strategically vital area. A U.S. airbase in Kurdish Iraq, however useful, would be no compensation for the loss of Turkey. Second, we need to maintain the Kurdish regions as stable, prosperous, and pro-American areas in an otherwise turbulent Iraq. Third, in order to achieve both aims (and larger strategic purposes), we need to keep the Incirlik base open for the U.S. Its closure would be a far larger blow to the U.S.Read the whole thing.
What these interests suggest is that the U.S. should support a limited Turkish incursion into the remote mountainous regions of northern Iraq to destroy the PKK bases and, if possible, to capture or kill PKK leaders. This holds some risks for the stability of Iraq — there are always risks in military action — but it is perhaps the least bad option for Washington. It is all but undeniable that Ankara has a good moral and even legal justification for intervention. The PKK bases are situated away from major population areas — so intervention there need not lead inexorably to wider conflict. If handled sensibly, a limited intervention might even advance regional stability. Ideally, the U.S. and Iraqi forces would join the Turkish army in a combined operation for this purpose. At the very least, the U.S. should lean strongly on the Iraqi authorities not to protest seriously any Turkish action and to expel as many new Ocalans (and their cats) as possible.
In return the U.S. should seek strong public assurances — from Turkey’s generals as well as its politicians — that Ankara has no objection to the existence of a semi-autonomous Kurdish entity provided it is part of a united Iraq and provided too that it refuses to allow its territory to be used as a terrorist haven. After a lamentable period of drift in U.S. diplomacy with Turkey, Washington now seems to be moving toward some such approach. But this must be the start of a wholly new Turkey policy — one that accommodates Turkish interests while frankly contesting anti-Americanism in Turkish opinion.