' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review March 5, 2003 / 1 Adar II, 5763

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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A friend in need

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It is ironic that France is the principal beneficiary of the vote last Saturday in Turkey's parliament that failed to authorize U.S. use of Turkish bases for an invasion of Iraq -- aside, of course, from Saddam Hussein. After all, the French have gone out of their way for years to treat the Turks with contempt and have been a driving force in blocking the latters' efforts to root their country firmly in the West via membership in the European Union.

Nonetheless, if Saturday's vote stands, the big winner will be France and its obstructionism in another area: the quintessentially Gallic, Gaullist and galling effort to frustrate President Bush and his determination to disarm Iraq the old-fashioned way -- namely, by overthrowing Saddam's regime and liberating the Iraqi people.

The irony is all the greater since the most recent French affront to Turkey was Jacques Chirac's leading role in thwarting NATO planning -- planning! -- for the protection of Turkish territory from Iraqi military strikes. Only by moving the voting to an alliance committee in which France chooses not to participate was Paris' veto overcome and NATO assistance approved.

Worse yet, the outcome in Turkey's parliament last weekend (in which the motion carried 264-251 but still failed due to 19 abstentions, which denied the government the required 267 votes for an absolute majority of all lawmakers present) threatens to drive a wedge between Turkey and its most important Western ally: the United States. Naturally, there is little likelihood that Ankara would get the more than $15 billion the Bush team had offered in direct loans and grants, let alone the billions more that might have come in indirect aid and guarantees. Turkey desperately needs such assistance to cope with the lingering, devastating effects on its economy of the last Gulf War and to cushion it from the costs of the next one.

The prospect of the loss of this aid package translated into an 11% drop in Turkey's stock market at the opening of trading on Monday. If a further worsening of relations between Washington and Ankara ensues, diminishing America's willingness to help Turkey in international financial institutions and other ways, the economic repercussions could be still more dire.

These are likely, however, to pale compared to the untoward strategic consequences of a lasting rupture in U.S.-Turkish relations. Most immediately, Turkey's interests in post-Saddam Iraq could be harmed. Preeminent among these is its concern that the destruction of totalitarian rule in Baghdad will advance Kurdish aspirations for autonomy or even statehood. The Turks are determined to prevent such a step. In the absence of close bilateral partnership in capitals and on the ground, however, these anxieties could translate into open warfare between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds, with ominous implications for American operations and objectives in Iraq.

Over the longer term, though, such a rupture could precipitate a most undesirable transformation from a Turkey that is a cornerstone of Western security and a model of stable, secular democracy in the Muslim world to one that is squarely in our enemies' camp. Already, Islamists have come to power -- in part on the strength of nationalist sympathies inflamed by European rejection of Turkey's bid to become even a candidate for EU membership; in part out of disgust with the incompetence and corruption of a succession of governments run by non-Islamist politicians. It was the unanticipated defection of fully 100 of the ruling Justice and Development Party's members that handed Prime Minister Abdullah Gul his defeat last Saturday on the resolution authorizing the U.S. use of Turkish territory.

While the idea of punishing Turkey for this result has superficial appeal (some have gone so far as to call for arming the Kurds with surface-to-air missiles in the hope they will be used to shoot down Turkish helicopters!), it is hard to exaggerate the undesirable consequences that could eventuate if the present impasse is allowed to stand -- to say nothing of it deteriorating further.

A brilliant student of international relations once observed that most Americans think of Turkey as a country tucked inconsequentially off in the lower-right corner of a map of Europe, usually centered roughly on Switzerland. The current crisis invites us to move the center of the map over Turkey. The effect would be to show a country surrounded by most of the nations and conflicts with which we are currently concerned: The Persian Gulf, the Middle East, the Balkans, Central and Southwest Asia are all in Turkey's neighborhood. Most, if not all, would be affected in ways highly detrimental to U.S. interests if the Turks were to become part of the problem. instead of one of this country's key regional allies.

Consequently, the right answer for Turkey, for the United States and for their shared interests, is to have the Turkish parliament swiftly reconsider its vote and approve the resolution by the required majority. At this writing, such a decision seems not only possible but, according to Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, in prospect.

If the re-vote is held and the government's resolution passes, it will be the product of courageous and visionary leadership that runs counter to the vocal wishes of many Turks. The result will, however, augur well for the future, not only of the looming campaign to liberate Iraq but for a Turkey that remains firmly anchored in the West and that will deserve, and should receive, the consideration -- political, economic and strategic -- to which it will thereby be entitled.

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


02/25/03: The plot thickens
02/18/03: Who's 'with' President Bush?
02/11/03: Islamists' White House gatekeeper
02/04/03: The Powell report
01/28/03: Bush's finest hour
01/14/03: North Korean scorecard
01/07/03: Nuclear meltdown
12/17/02: Serious about defending America
12/03/02: Defining 'regime change'
11/26/02: With friends like the Saudis...
11/19/02: The Jayna Davis files
11/12/02: Could Israel die of thirst?
11/04/02: Against us
10/22/02: Too clever by half?
10/17/02: 'Drain the swamps'
10/08/02: The temptations of George Bush
10/01/02: Return of the San Francisco Dems
09/24/02: The next crusader?
09/17/02: It is no accident that advocates of coercive inspections have opposed prez's goal of regime change
09/10/02: A model for Iraq
08/27/02: Beware 'consensus leadership'
08/20/02: To Iraq or not to Iraq?
08/13/02: Trading with the 'enemy'
07/30/02: Who's trashing Ashcroft?
07/23/02: Wall Street's 'poisoned apples'
07/16/02: Back on the China front
07/09/02: See no evil?
07/02/02: Rethinking peacekeeping
06/25/02: Political moment of truth on defense
06/19/02: Inviting losses on two fronts
06/12/02: Make missile defense happen
06/04/02: The next 'Day of Infamy'?
05/29/02: Bush's Russian gamble
05/21/02: The 'next war'
05/15/02: Ex-presidential misconduct
05/07/02: When 'what if' is no game
05/02/02: Careful what we wish for
04/24/02: The real 'root cause' of terror
04/02/02: First principles in the Mideast
03/26/02: 'Renounce this map'
03/20/02: The inconvenient ally
03/12/02: Adults address the 'unthinkable'
03/05/02: The Saudi scam
02/26/02: Rumsfeld's 'now hear this'
02/19/02: Where's the outrage?
02/12/02: Post-mortem on 'Pearl Harbor II'
02/05/02: Spinning on the 'Evil Axis'
01/29/02: A challenge for the history books
01/22/02: Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'?
01/15/02: No 'need to know'
01/08/02: Sentenced to de-nuclearize?
12/18/01: Missile defense mismanagement?
12/11/01: Is the Cold War 'over'?
12/04/01: A moment for truth
11/29/01: Send in the marines -- with the planes they need
11/27/01: 'Now Hear This': Does the President Mean What He Says?
11/20/01: Mideast 'vision thing'
11/13/01: The leitmotif of the next three days
11/06/01: Bush's Reykjavik Moment
10/30/01: Say it ain't true, 'W.
10/23/01: Getting history, and the future, right
10/16/01: Farewell to arms control
10/05/01: A time to choose
09/25/01: Don't drink the 'lemonade'
09/11/01: Sudan envoy an exercise in futility?
09/05/01: Strategy of a thousand cuts
08/28/01: Rummy's back
08/21/01: Prepare for 'two wars'
08/14/01: Why does the Bush Administration make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks and Israel's restrained defensive responses?
08/07/01: A New bipartisanship in security policy?
07/31/01: Don't go there
07/17/01: The 'end of the beginning'
07/10/01: Testing President Bush
07/03/01: Market transparency works
06/27/01: Which Bush will it be on missile defense?
06/19/01: Don't politicize military matters
06/05/01: It's called leadership
06/05/01: With friends like these ...
05/31/01: Which way on missile defense?
05/23/01: Pearl Harbor, all over again
05/15/01: A tale of two Horatios
05/08/01: The real debate about missile defense
04/24/01: Sell aegis ships to Taiwan
04/17/01: The 'hi-tech for China' bill
04/10/01: Deal on China's hostages -- then what?
04/03/01: Defense fire sale redux
03/28/01: The defense we need
03/21/01: Critical mass
03/13/01: The Bush doctrine
03/08/01: Self-Deterred from Defending America
02/27/01: Truth and consequences for Saddam
02/21/01: Defense fire sale
02/13/01: Dubya's Marshall Plan
02/05/01: Doing the right thing on an 'Arab-Arab dispute'
01/30/01: The missile defense decision
01/23/01: The Osprey as Phoenix
01/17/01: Clinton's Parting Shot at Religious Freedom
01/09/01: Wake-up call on space
01/02/01: Secretary Rumsfeld
12/27/00: Redefining our Ukraine policy
12/19/00: Deploy missile defense now
12/12/00: Sabotaging space power
12/05/00: Preempting Bush
11/28/00: What Clinton hath wrought
11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.