Turkey has been in the news recently. Large numbers of Turkish soldiers are currently inside the U.N. declared safe-zone in northern Iraq, an area specifically created to protect Kurdish people from Iraq. The incursion of Turkish troops into Iraq is not new; as early as last summer there were reports of Turkish forces crossing into Iraq to combat the Kurds, their stated goal being the eradication of Kurish rebels.
The fact of Turkish aggression against the Kurds is not nearly as illuminating as the two-faced position taken by the U.S. government. If Iraq was to dare similar action against the same people the U.S. reaction would have been swift and certainly violent. However, the same actions on the part of our ostensible ally, Turkey, are condoned with the White House speaking of Turkey’s need to “deal with the situation decisively,” diplomatic newspeak meaning that Turkey has our blessing to conduct wholesale slaughter.
Unfortunately American involvement goes farther than merely allowing the Kurds to be killed. A December 1994 study from Human Rights Watch reports:
Turkey’s military campaign against the … [Kurdish Rebels] … has been aimed largely at the civilian population. The Turkish government has a well-documented record of contempt for civilian life during military operations … Turkish forces have depopulated up to 1,400 villages and hamlets, forcibly evicting villagers and burning many of their homes. Air attacks are a common feature of the war, often involving U.S. fighter aircraft and attack helicopters, and sometimes the use of cluster bombs.
In contrast to the willingness of our government to condone the murder of the Kurds, acceptable only because they are dying at the hands of Turkey and not Iraq, the European nations have roundly denounced the Turkish action. Germany has suspended a loan intended to help in the purchase of warships and cut off further aid.
Anyone who thinks that America’s military is a vehicle for justice or some other noble goal must answer why it is our “vital” interest to prevent Iraq from killing Kurds but apparently not in our interest to prevent Turkey from killing them. People in uniform have a unique obligation to carefully consider these issues since it is precisely these people who will be called upon when our government decides that deadly force will be used. And so I say to those of you who will walk around this campus in uniform, do you know in your heart that it is right that the American government allow and at times aide Turkey in killing the Kurds just as it is right that our government prevent Iraq from killing them?
Read Next Article