Monday, October 15, 2007

Politically Motivated House Cripples Turkish Relations

A US House of Representatives resolution that passed committee last week declaring the 1915 killing of 1.5 million Armenians to be "genocide" is perhaps the most irresponsible move the US Congress has made in years. Given the current state of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq coupled with unrest along the Turkey-Iraq border, this politically motivated resolution could unravel over a half-century of cooperation between Turkey and the West. (LA Times: Turkish general warns against genocide bill.)

Turkey is naturally outraged over the resolution which Speaker Nancy Pelosi vows will make it to the House floor. Turkey's top General, Yasar Buyukanit said, "If this resolution passed in the committee passes the House as well, our military ties with the U.S. will never be the same again."

Since Turkey is the US and NATO's gateway into the Middle East, that is not an idle threat. 70% of US Air Cargo headed for the Middle East passes through Turkey. One third of the fuel used by the US military in Iraq also passes through Turkey. US bases in Iraq get virtually all of their water and supplies from Turkey, carried into northern Iraq by Turkish truckers. The US military base in Turkey is used to fly C-17 cargo planes into Iraq, thus eliminating the potential for additional casualties by avoiding roads plagued with explosives. That is what Pelosi and company have put at risk with this ill conceived resolution.

So why issue the resolution now? What the Democrats are attempting to do is force the President to change strategies in Iraq, and they are using a NATO ally in the worst way to accomplish it. The loss of Turkey's cooperation in Iraq is precisely what the Democrats hope to achieve since it will severely cripple our ability to prosecute the war. The fact that the damage done to our relationship with a long-standing critical NATO ally will far exceed the time our troops spend in Iraq does not seem to concern them, however.

How convenient for the Democrats, should this ploy actually succeed. They will have crippled US military capabilities in the Middle East for years to come and will likely force the redeployment of US forces throughout Iraq so as to compensate for the lack of supply routes through Turkey. In their minds, they will have shortened the time our troops will be there without getting their hands dirty by overtly cutting off funds as Congress did with Vietnam. How convenient indeed. The reality, though, is this irresponsible Congress has put more American lives at risk and has upset the balance of NATO through their ill conceived resolution.

The resolution, once it comes to the floor, must not pass. Should the left-dominated Congress actually succeed in passing it, escalation of a war between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Iraq becomes all but certain. US casualties will increase in Iraq since our supply routes must now come overland, presumably from Kuwait. Our ability to contain Iran and Syria will likewise be diminished, as will our ability to prosecute the war in Iraq to its fullest. Our relations with Turkey - a key NATO ally - will be forever crippled.

This action on the part of the House is inexcusable, and must certainly be defeated.

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