No Support for Turkey’s War

Now that NATO officially supports Turkey’s revitalized war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Turks might soon request American weapons, intelligence and diplomatic assistance for their onslaught. When that time comes, we should say no.

Those who would again have us commit American resources to Turkish authoritarians ought to examine the past repercussions of their longstanding policy. From 1985 to 1995, the US government granted $5.3 billion worth of military "protection" to the Turkish government, endowments that at one point accounted for more than three-quarters of Turkey’s imported weaponry. In reality, this "protective" assistance facilitated the brutal repression of innocent Kurds in a state that prohibited the use of Kurdish languages in public spaces and accosted Kurdish civilians for their involvement in dissident political parties. In its effort to eradicate the PKK, the Turkish government incinerated Kurdish homes and wielded Western weapons to extirpate communities, to torture people wantonly, and to assassinate political opponents without trial.

The Turkish government’s illiberal streak still exists today. Over the past couple of weeks, the authorities have attacked antiwar protesters with water cannons and have detained hundreds of Kurdish activists upon the resurgence of Turkey’s war with the PKK. As people who often use Kurdish suffering to justify Western attacks in the Middle East, American statesmen should find this situation appalling.

But they do not. Instead, the Obama administration acquiesces to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in what appears to be a de facto exchange for American access to Turkish military bases. This tradeoff, ironically defended as a necessary hedge against ISIS and anti-American terrorism, will likely produce the exact opposite of what its purveyors intend. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units, after all, have been stalwart opponents of ISIS in Syria. If the West effectively invigorates the Turkish war against the PKK, the People’s Protection Units might very well join their Kurdish brethren in Iraq, leaving ISIS free to fill the newfound void.

Some Americans will not care though. Cognizant that ISIS lacks the military capacity to foment a successful invasion of the United States, they will sit idly by as our government consolidates its support for the Turks and undercuts some of ISIS’s most potent enemies. American-induced deaths and emboldened terrorist factions are foreigners’ problems, they say, not ours.

I urge them to think again. If they do not find it discomfiting that their tax dollars finance people’s suffering abroad, they should at least find it discomfiting that their money finances policies likely to induce the sort of anti-American sentiments that bred the atrocities of September 11, 2001. Lest we forget, Al-Qaeda affiliates detested all infidels but targeted the United States specifically because of the American government’s interventionist policies. They castigated "the protracted blockade" against Iraq, which Osama Bin Laden later called "the oppressing and embargoing to death of millions." They came to resent the American military presence in the Arabian Peninsula, the US war in Somalia, American support for the war on Chechnya, and the United States’ aid to multiple Middle Eastern leaders perceived to be anti-Muslim.

Warmongering, then, only fans the flames of animus that motivate people to become anti-Western terrorists. Therefore, if we wish to maintain the goodwill of the Kurds, if we truly respect their bodily autonomy, and if we desire to preserve our own, let us resist Turkish attempts to mire us further in the pandemonium unraveling in Western Asia. This fight is not ours.

Tommy Raskin is a contributor to the Good Men Project and Foreign Policy in Focus. He is also an intern at

7 thoughts on “No Support for Turkey’s War”

  1. When the Soviet Union collapsed many Russians believed that Russia and the United States would join forces and try to wipe out starvation and poverty all over the world . Sorta of beat the weapons into plow shares and be a powerful double force for good . Instead NATO has pickup where the German national socialists left off. And the old dream of directing world order from the NATO empire has raised it's ugly head again . In the 1990s when NATO destroyed Yugoslavia for the 3rd time in the last century . Alexander Solzhenitsyn , a devout God fearing man , disbanded the liberal democratic government in Russia . He searched for a tough guy someone who would standup to NATO . His orders were strengthen Russia fast real fast . His orders were to strengthen Russia religiously , economically and militarily as fast as you can . 8 yrs latter Russia turned NATO around in Georgia , The world said the bear is back . Solzhenitsyn died a happy man accomplishing more for Russia at the end of his life than all those years in the gulag

  2. I'am Sorry my above comment may seem out of place it was meant to be a comment against NATO . As you can see I do not always hold NATO in very high regards . The above comment may be necessary to show where I'am coming from . So I don't agree Turkey is in NATO so Turkey must be one of the good guys And I carry that same amount of disrespect to other NATO members sometimes too . Often times The United NATIONS or NATO do make very big blunders . Just because the security council or NATO says so doesn't make it the truth . I have never once sided with anyone over the Kurds I suppose is because the Kurds always are the underdogs . Underdogs in Turkey , Iraq , and Syria . I in no way do we want to help Turkey oppress the Kurds . I think the Kurds have been doing more what Americans think is right all along

    1. " I think the Kurds have been doing more what Americans think is right all along".

      What does America think is right? I have not found it. Foreign policy establishment? From the "realists" to "interventionists", and crackpot libertarians are dedicated to domination — and if that means giving Kurds something, for the sake of gaining territory for future interventions. American public? Whatever media says is right — is right.

      I do not even think that "what is right" exists, except in our imagination — our desire to believe that such thing as right and wrong exist in today's America. Most people would rather talk about something POSITIVE and FUN. Others are repulsed by world problems. They want to talk only about something POSITIVE and FUN. We are back in Iraq and Syria, thanks to a few, well stages executions, and a campaign of senseless terror over helpless Syrian or Iraqi population.

      We have set up — with a help of ISIS, conditions to separate Iraq Kurdistan from Bagdad, as there seems to be NO design on liberating Mosul, and no plans to seriously hit ISIS anywhere. Over 100 advisors were sent into Kurdistan — for what? Always some news about "killing a leader" — leader of what? But no disruption of money, arms, food, gas, , but no meaningful attack on the basic network that keep their infrastructure going. From money and arms, to vehicles and gas. The idea that they are making money selling oil is a laughable one — there are no roads that are not visible from the air in the region ISIS controls. The fact that they were able to drive over to Palmyra — destroy the historic site, take few pictures, and get away with it — tells me all I need to know about the "war" on ISIS.

      Turkey knows what that will do to the region. The net result, US and company are back in Iraq, with a plan to make Kurdistan independent, and set it up to model Kosovo. This model will, just like Kosovo, insure that the entire region remains a tinderbox.

      Turkey is facing this dilemma, and as much as I am really sorry for Kurdish people — their fate seems to be to always serve interests of a big power, hoping for the support for independence. They rely on external support, and undermine their own safety. Instead of working with neighbors to build confidence and autonomy based on trust, they in fact, always put in danger the very states they live in. That repeatedly comes back as a boomerang. If they do not like their brothers to be their neighbors, they will always have a stranger as a master.

      The terms of agreement between US and Turkey seem to change by the day. There are likely to be surprises. None of the actors in the region support US idea of a zone populated by militants. That will be just another trip wire, and further away from any solution.

  3. This war isn't against the Kurds, but against the PKK that is a bloody terrorist organization has killed thousands of innocent soldiers and civilians throughout the years. After all, you cannot accuse Turkish government easily while we are suffering from the PKK, not you. It is normal that, of course, all you want is to create duped minds by writing such a kind of articles even though in the case of exigency.

  4. N?kdy lidé nev?dí, kdy cestovní ruch je nejjist?jší ?ešení, aby nám stát zdrav?jší. Mám nápad pro ty z vás, kte?í mohou být znud?ný s ?inností každodenního života, který je tím, že ?te ?lánky týkající se informací, cestovní, který jsem napsal a názvem nebo t?eba, pokud máte více si m?žete také poslechnout po p?edm?ty další atrakce, které jsem nazvané Doufám, že 2, co jsem dát prost?ednictvím t?chto p?ipomínek m?že dát kladnou hodnotu a stojí za 2 na vás všechno.

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