Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Turks, Kurds and Starving Armenians

where you and i are standing on the end of a century
europes have sprung up everywhere as even i can see
but there on the horizon is the possibility
some bug from out of africa might come for you and me
destroying everything in its path from sea to shining sea
like the great nations of europe in the 16th century

hide your wives and daughters, hide the groceries too
'scuse me, great nations coming through

-- Randy Newman, "Great Nations of Europe"

Don't ask me why somebody in Congress thought it would be a good idea to once again propose a resolution condemning the genocide of Armenians after World War I. It seemed to be a diplomatic bridge to nowhere from the get go. The furor over the resolution, though, illustrates just what an alligator pen U.S. foreign policy has become. No matter what we do it turns around and bites us.

Ottoman Umpires

I am of a generation of Americans whose mothers admonished their children to eat everything on their plates by invoking the "starving Armenians." The Armenians were a religious and cultural minority in Ottoman Turkey. From 1915 to 1925, an estimated 1.5 million Armenian Turks died as a result of execution, starvation and death marches. According to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), over 50 members of Congress joined several hundred Armenian Americans on Capitol Hill on Sunday, October 21st, to honor the victims and survivors of the "Armenian Genocide." ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, "We look forward, in the weeks and months ahead, to working with all of our friends in bringing an end to Turkey's campaign of denial and making sure that the lessons of the Armenian Genocide--and all past genocides--are used to help prevent future crimes against humanity."

In my opinion, it was perfectly appropriate for members of Congress to show their support for the Armenian group's initiative, but I'm not sure re-introducing legislation to that effect was such a good idea just now. It essentially wags a holier than thou finger at the Turks over something that happened almost a century ago, and these days we need to keep the Turks on a buddy basis. If we wanted to make an issue about genocide, we should have made a resolution condemning Attila the Hun. Nobody would have minded that (the Germans would have been relieved to catch heat over somebody besides Hitler).

As things stand, we'll have to smear some lipstick over those het up Turks to keep them from queering things for us in Iraq.

The Meek Re-inherit the Earth

Among the highlights of the lasting neoconservative legacy will be how their policies forced the United States of America--history's first truly global hegemon--to suck up to a lemonade stand like Turkey. This isn't to sell the culture and history of what was once the heart of the mighty Ottoman Empire short, but let's face it; the Bill Gates of nations Turkey is not. According to the CIA's World Factbook, Turkey's gross domestic product is less than five percent of America's ($640 billion versus $13.1 trillion), and the disparity in defense budgets is nearly identical. Yet, in the scenario we're witnessing today, lap dog Turkey has Doberman America bent over the kitchen table.

The Turks went ballistic over the Armenian resolution. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made scary sounds at Mr. Bush indicating that Turkish cooperation over Iraq could be seriously damaged. Mr. Bush replied by condemning Congress's condemnation of Turkey for condemning the Armenians to death. Turkey claims the Armenian genocide didn't happen, which Mr. Bush and the rest of his camp let slide even though whenever Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says there was no Holocaust the neocons call him crazy and insist that we need to drop bombs on his country to keep him in line before his country drops bombs on the country full of people he claims the Holocaust didn't happen to. And of course, we never want anyone bringing up our own achievements in the genocide department when it came time to drive the natives out of our continent, and similarly, nobody wants to mention that the Turks are about to go to war with the Kurds because the Kurds are still ticked off at the Turks for trying to commit genocide against them in the way back when.

The Turks have long considered the Kurds a threat to Turkish national stability. If the Kurds in Iraq get their own independent piece of that country, the Turks fear the Turkish Kurds will want to join them and create a new Kurdistan. That's why the Turks don't want to see Iraq split into three semi-autonomous regions. Mister Bush supports the Turkey's desires for a few reasons. Turkey provides land line of supply access to our troops in Iraq, and would be a line of withdrawal should things go very wrong in the Persian Gulf in a war with Iran. Plus, Turkey is the only ally Bush has in the Iraq war. Well, the closest thing he has to an ally in a conflict he still claims to have started, in part, because Saddam Hussein committed genocide against his own people. If the Turks march into northern Iraq to commit more genocide on the Kurds, like they look poised to do, oh man…

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Erdogen told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he wouldn't immediately send his troops into Iraq in response to ambushes on Turkish troops by Kurdish rebels. However, Ergogen said he expected "speedy steps from [the] U.S." in cracking down on the Kurds. Rice expressed her sympathy and asked for "a few days" to sort things out. A few days. Condi Rice couldn't sort the shoes in her closet in a month of Sundays.

The last time I looked, the Bush administration was claiming that a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq would invite a larger, regional war. In truth, U.S. troop presence has invited a larger regional war, and there's not a thing our presence there can do to stop it. We occupy a country that doesn't want us there, we can't control its borders with Syria and Iran, and we can't keep our ally from invading it.

The longer we meddle in this muddle, the more it looks like we're going the way of the great nations of Europe.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword and ePluribus. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available March 1, 2008.


  1. Anonymous1:01 PM

    The general consensus among scholars is that Attila was of Turkic origin. The Germans were innocent.

  2. Sorry to quote Wikipedia on you, but it's as succinct as any source I can find on the subject:

    "Attila (406 – 453), also known as Attila the Hun or the Scourge of God was Khan of the Huns from 434 until his death. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire which stretched from Germany to the Ural River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea (see map below)."

    The Europeans are essentially descendendants of the barbarians: Huns, Goths, Visigoths, Francs, Burganders, etc.

  3. Not to make light of this tragic event, but Jeff, can you correct 1.5 Armenians to 1.5 million?

    Offhand, what effect will the fires, drought and ongoing unpleasantness have on the US economy?

  4. Fixed, WK. What a goof up on my part. Thanks a million (heh, heh) for catching it.

  5. Jeff,

    This was a great entry, pretty much summed it all up.

  6. gypsy howell8:13 AM

    Sounds like Condi's "few days" ar up. From AP:

    "Turkish troops have shelled suspected Kurdish rebel positions in Iraq, a government official said Wednesday...
    Local media have reported that Turkish jets have struck targets inside of Iraq since Sunday's attack, but the government official denied that air power was used."

    Another job well done by our administration. Maybe George will get his WWIII after all.

  7. Anonymous1:47 PM

    Some Huns' descendants did become Germans; I stand corrected.

    You'll notice that many Huns didn't become German (and stretched to the Ural river); it was British war propaganda that delighted in equating Huns and Germans, much to the detriment of Britain.

  8. SFHawkguy2:01 PM


    Reuters ran a story yesterday saying shelling and aerial bombings began on Oct. 21. It didn't really elaborate (I think it quoted a Turkish legislator) but it seems likely that Turkey ignored Rice's pleas for restraint. Not surprising that our military and our press is downplaying Turkey's actions. I don't understand why the media can't give us a first-hand report on where and when the bombings/fighting is taking place. I guess the media can't let the American people see Bush and Condi losing face.

  9. Hmmm, so Jeff, why was historically Kurdish territory sliced up between three countries?

    Umm, did the Brits do that?

    I could be way off base here.

  10. The British and the French (with U.S. acquiescence) did it after WWI. The borders were designed strictly to meet their needs.

  11. Jeff,
    What somewhat famous author said "the Wardroom Officer is proof you only need to know 12 words in English to be a Naval Officer." ??

  12. I wonder if the Turks will pass a Resolution condemning the Murder of countless American Natives? And when are we gonna pass a Resolution Condemning the British for there enslavement and murder of Irish.
    I'm part Irish and Cherokee. I WANT MY REPARATIONS NOW!

    Seriously, I would like very much if the Turks had a country and a Government for and by the People.
    'Course I would like the same thing here.


  13. Bud,

    I don't know. It could have been just about anyone.


  14. Bud,

    I don't know. It could have been just about anyone.


  15. Anonymous1:17 AM

    how could you talk about Atilla. You dont even know what his origin is. He is turkic. and we know turks are barbars.
    they commited genocide. they killed 1.8 billion armenians(the number is constantly going up) 2.7 zillion kurds in the past. americans english french did NOT kill people all over the world and in their own country systematically. so they have not committed genocide.
    ok then tell me my Attila expert genious friend. turkey says "lets examine the russian/turkish/ermenian resources. why do you think armenians dont wannna do that. and my dear friend. why did not turks kill the hundres of thousands of ermaniens in the other parts of Ottoman Empire.
    and last thing is that have you read about the russian officer who organized armenian gangs to fight against turks(imagine texan gangs orginanized by Iraqis start murdering other americans). what would you do about that. i expect an intelligent answer to that question please. This russian officer stopped working with ermanians IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WAR cause he thought they were too cruel and kill too many turkish civilians.
    yes what turks did was wrong. You cannot and should not force old people children women march for hundres of miles(there were no enough trains at that time) just because their children are killing turkish civilians and soldiers daytime and sleep safe at home at night. turks should`ve found another solution for this. but you call that GENOCIDE ?? why is it different or worst than killing native american women and children or japaniese babies in hiroshima.

  16. Anonymous1:09 AM

    Armenia used to be a part of turkey until they stabbed the turks in the backs by siding with the russians during world war 1. the turks merely defended themselves. What you call a genocide was really more of a war than anything else. Not only armenians were killed, Nearly as many turks were killed as well with the combined forces of the armenians and russians army. What the turks did to the armenians was nothing compared to what americans did to native americans anyways, or what the germans did to the jews.

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