so i've read william safire's column today and about a half million blog posts about how ignorant and illogical safire is. safire, in essence, writes that the kurds should not be opposed to the deployment of turkish troops in iraq. he doesn't make a very convincing argument, especially when you consider turkey's own record with the kurds. it seems to me, that the kurds are right to be against turkish troops in iraq.
the administration wants turkish troops because the turkish government is the only muslim member of nato. as safire writes in his column (summarizing the administration's thinking): turkish forces "would do much to Muslimize and localize the war on Saddam's last-ditch fighters." what goes unsaid is that the administration is still desperately trying to prove to the muslim world that it is not in a war against islam. it's losing that particular p.r. battle, mostly because the administration will do everything to win over the muslim world except for change any of its policies, some of which (such as new immigration rules) overtly target muslims. having turkish troops in iraq, the theory goes, will be more paletable to the iraqi population because turks share the same religion.
that may seem to make sense on the surface, but there is more to this than just the surface. turks are a different ethnic group from both arabs and kurds. for the past few decades there is a well-documented history of human rights violations against kurds in turkey and one basic pillar in turkish foreign policy is the determination to stop any hints of kurdish autonomy in neighboring states including iraq. as for the arabs, arab nationalism was born fighting turkish rule over the region. the ottoman empire ruled what is now iraq for 400 years and those days are not looked back upon fondly by the arabs. the shiites have an added incentive to dislike the turks, the turks are sunni.
indeed, virtually everyone outside of the bush administration is opposed to sending turkish troops. the proposal is demoralizing the kurds and turning them away from supporting the u.s.. but it's not just kurds who are opposed to turkish troops in iraq. a recent poll indicated that 90% of the iraqi public is opposed to turkish troops in the country. (see also riverbend's perspective as a blogger living in iraq). even the u.s.-appointed iraqi interim governing council unanimously opposes turkish troops. countries neighboring iraq also oppose turkish forces entering iraq.
on top of all that, deployment of turkish forces in iraq is "deeply unpopular with the Turkish public." and the turkish government itself seems to be backing away from any firm commitment of troops and they may not send any troops after all.
given so much opposition from so many sources, why isn't the administration dropping the idea? probably because it really doesn't have any plan to replace it. the u.s. military has to find a way to rotate to american troops out soon. if the current deployment rotation schedule is followed, the u.s. will run out of troops in iraq next spring. to avoid that, it could extend the deployment of units that are already there, call up even more of the overstretched reserves, or impose a draft, but any of these options would be deeply unpopular in an election year. plus, this is an administration that never admits when it makes a mistake (safire's column laughably makes it seem like the kurds are making the mistake). this whole plan is blowing up in their face only because the administration stupidly assumed that all muslims are essentially alike. i suppose a mis-informed government is what we should expect when our president won't even read a newspaper article.