As usual, the left-right neocon sites are full of self-righteous puffing again. This time around, they’re blaming Nancy Pelosi for losing our "good ally" Turkey in the middle of their little war to export democracy. Pelosi, it appears, is prepared to allow a House vote condemning Turkey for the “Armenian genocide” that wiped out countless Armenians about a century ago. And Turkey is decidedly unhappy about it.
As usual, the neocons are outraged that foreign countries might actually act based on their assessment of how the U.S. government has acted towards them. This simple fact of human reality was famously denied by debater Rudy Giuliani when he feigned amazement when Ron Paul made reference to it. Giuliani bristled at Paul’s observation that the behavior of Islamic countries might indeed be influenced by the way the U.S. government has acted towards them.
Giuliani, like Bush, is ignorant of foreign affairs (unless one considers the Upper East Side to be foreign territory). That should constitute a mortal wound to any serious candidacy. In today’s world of spin, alas, it threatens instead a mortal wound to our country’s well-being, if Giuliani’s ignorance is catapulted into the White House after the 2008 elections. Sadly, Giuliani’s ignorance of the world is shared by most of the candidates of both parties (naturally, with the exception of Congressman Ron Paul).
Twenty years ago I was in Turkey, observing an election as a senate foreign policy staffer. Instead of staying in major cities, I asked my hosts to head out to the middle of nowhere, asking them to turn here, then there, as we drove for hours visiting random towns and villages in the middle of the Anatolian plain. After driving for a while on the afternoon of election day, on a whim, I directed the driver (who spoke excellent German: he had worked as a foreign worker in Germany for several years) to turn up a dirt road to a village I could see in the distance.
Clearly, the villagers did not know we were coming. Their village was a clutch of huts and one-story brick buildings that might have comprised a population of perhaps five hundred people. The villagers gathered around our car, all smiles, and someone ran to get the mayor. He arrived quickly, and escorted us into a room with a long, rough-cut table. Twenty or thirty men crowded into the room, and perhaps half of them sat on hand-hewn benches, while the others stood along the wall. They gave me and my government escort-interpreter the only chairs.
Tea was served — strong stuff. Courtesy and elegance abounded in these country farmers, who were a lot like the ones I grew up with in the Midwest. We were given a genuine welcome.
The mayor gave a little speech of welcome. "We welcome our American friend," he said. "We love America. America is a good friend and ally of Turkey."
I smiled diplomatically, trying to conjure up a proper response — but I didn’t have a chance to deliver it. One of the elders sitting near the mayor broke into his speech. He brought his fist down sharply on the wooden table, shaking the small teacups all around. "But what’s this about the Armenian Resolution in your Congress," he roared.
So much for my travels. But it was clear to me that this sentiment was genuine, and evidently quite strongly held not only by these men, but by other Turks as well, in thousands of other villages I might have visited at random.
The Turks then are like the Turks now. They are not ignorant, and they are not idiots. Nancy Pelosi should be well aware of how deeply those sentiments run, twenty years after I saw them first-hand. And undoubtedly they will run deep twenty years from now.
Pelosi’s maneuver is deft and calculated, all too true. But when the neocons blame Pelosi for threatening to "alienate Turkey," they are wrong. President Bush and Proconsul Dick Cheney have already alienated the Turks — major league, big time.
The Turks have long memories. Turkey is a democracy. And in 2003, Bush fatuously assumed he could bribe these proud, independent people with dollars — admittedly, a lot of them — $35 BILLION to be exact. After all, the neocons at DoD convinced Cheney that they could "handle" Turkey. But Bush failed. Rumsfeld failed. Turkey’s democratic government would not allow US forces to invade Iraq from the north. They were not bribed by the U.S. government’s $35 billion; they were offended, even outraged. (By the way, $35 billion was a lot of money back then.)
The neocons were incensed. After all, hadn’t Richard Perle’s firm once “represented” Turkey? Hadn’t Perle gotten Israel to help Turkey get their number-one most-wanted terrorist, Ocalan? Hadn’t Israel tracked Ocalan down in Kenya so he could be captured? And wasn’t Ocalan the founder of the Turkish Workers Party (PKK)? And isn’t the PKK the very "terrorist organization" that today harasses the Turkish army from its hideout in Iraqi "Kurdistan"?
In short, wasn’t Turkey safely "bought" back when Ocalan was captured in 1999? And yet these ignorant, ungrateful Turks actually turned down a $35-billion-dollar bribe in 2003! Ingrates! And now they’re mad as blazes that Pelosi might pass the Armenian resolution (which, by the way, never passed back in 1987). There is no justice! Those barbarians!
Naturally, when Turkey refused to be bought in 2003, the Cheney crowd heaped abuse on it — while championing “democracy” for Iraq (war war war). Bush wouldn’t know Anatolia from Anacostia, of course, but the Turks were well aware of the daggers drawn to “tame” it in return for its entry into the EU (truly a dead letter today — but not so in 2003). Their outrage at a "simple harmless congressional resolution" is real and far from harmless. Symbols speak volumes to civilized peoples.
In 2003 the Cheney-neocon “pro-democracy” crowd tried to overturn the decision of Turkey’s democratic government and failed; now they are faced with the reality on the ground, and, naturally, they tremble at the disaster they have wrought: an increasingly anti-American Turkey that won’t buy the neocon palaver of Bush, Perle, or of the neocons who are desperate to find another scapegoat whom they can blame for their own bungling.
Ron Paul is right, of course: foreign countries and foreign people are not barbarians, nor are they simpletons who "hate us because we are free." There are millions of intelligent and cultured people in the world who watch what our government does. And they act accordingly. In seven years of occupying the Oval Office, Mr. Bush has not yet learned this simple lesson that any high-school kid who didn’t go to Andover could teach you in ten minutes on the playground.
The U.S. government, speaking in our name, has slapped Turkey around so much that the Turks are fed up. What the Turks will do is up to them: but watch the neocons play their dialectical games, as they transform our "solid NATO ally" into just another bunch of barbarian boobs who "hate us because we are free," and thus actually react when we insult, demean, and try to bribe them.
Yes, the ignoramuses running this war have unwrapped one Pandora’s box after another. Turkey is just the latest. They have been consistently startled when the natural consequences have followed. How to cover up their mistakes? Blame Pelosi. Blame the Turks. And, of course, there’s always that neocon face-card: start another war.
On to Iran! For Bush, that’s the real “Way Forward.”