Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Supporting Shiites, Arming Sunnis, Selling Out the Kurds—Bush’s Personal Surge

I am not a big fan of Robert Novak, the columnist who outed Valerie Plame and then sat back to watch the toil and trouble of his outsmanship. He wrote another incendiary column yesterday and I am taking it for the straight scoop, because there are no ifs, ands or buts, no unnamed sources, no apparent conjecture.

Rovenovak I am not a big fan of Robert Novak, the columnist who outed Valerie Plame and then sat back to watch the toil and trouble of his outsmanship. He wrote another incendiary column yesterday and I am taking it for the straight scoop, because there are no ifs, ands or buts, no unnamed sources, no apparent conjecture.
“The morass in Iraq and deepening difficulties in Afghanistan have not deterred the Bush administration from taking on a dangerous and questionable new secret operation. High-level U.S. officials are working with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to suppress Kurdish guerrillas and capture their leaders. Through covert activity, their goal is to forestall Turkey from invading Iraq.”
Not much wiggle-room there. Covert and secret are the very actions that sank Republican Richard Nixon, Democrat Lyndon Johnson and left Ronald Reagan’s ship of state taking on dangerous quantities of water toward the end. Novak continues,
“While detailed operational plans are necessarily concealed, the broad outlines have been presented to select members of Congress as required by law. U.S. Special Forces are to work with the Turkish army to suppress the Kurds' guerrilla campaign. The Bush administration is trying to prevent another front from opening in Iraq, which would have disastrous consequences. But this gamble risks major exposure and failure.”
Ahmedchalabi_2 Exposure and failure is this administration’s strong suit. You really need a scorecard to keep up with the changes in lineup, but it seems like the Shiites (who were the chosen sect to run a new and revitalized Iraq, mostly because international crook Ahmed Chalabi told Bush to) have been jabbed in the eye by Bush agreeing to arm Sunni tribes (who actually ran the country before Bremer sent them all home) and it is now (by Bush logic) in the American national interest to name the Kurdish leadership as terrorists—or aiding and abetting terrorists—it’s not entirely clear. Whew. Confused?
What is clear is that, after four years of literally tearing their country apart, our invasion has succeeded in
  • removing and beggaring the competent,
  • elevating and making wealthy the incompetent
  • and now (if Novak can be believed) kicking the legs out from under the Kurds once (twice, thrice?) again.
Kurdishinhabitedareacia Kurds, the only ethnic segment in all of Iraq that have consistently supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and continually put themselves at risk for American goals have yet again been sold down the river. When America saved Europe’s bacon in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson promised a modern Kurdistan at Versailles. The follow-up Treaty of Sèvres stipulated creation of an autonomous Kurdish state in 1920.
Before the birth of Turkey, before the formation of Iraq, before Persia became modern Iran, there was a Kurdistan. The subsequent Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 failed to mention Kurds. Guess someone forgot.
Four thousand years before there were Iraqis, Turks, Syrians or Iranians, there were Kurds. Embarrassingly long before there was an America, there were Kurds. Kurds predated the Bush family dynasty by as many thousands of years as there are fingers on a hand and yet this confused and desperate president is preparing to sell them out to the Turks.
“The development of an autonomous Kurdish entity inside Iraq, resulting from the decline and fall of Saddam Hussein, has alarmed the Turkish government. That led to Ankara's refusal to allow U.S. combat troops to enter Iraq through Turkey, an eleventh-hour complication for the 2003 invasion. As the Kurds' political power grew inside Iraq, the Turkish government became steadily more uneasy about the centuries-old project of a Kurdistan spreading across international boundaries -- and chewing up big pieces of Turkey.”
A more accurate reading of history would have Turkey (1923), modern Iran (1906) and Syria (1946) chewing up big pieces of Kurdistan (4000BC).
“What is Washington to do in the dilemma of two friends battling each other on an unwanted new front in Iraq?
A little political courage comes to mind. Moral clarity and recognition of legitimate Muslim Kurdish autonomy might be a start. Friendship is one thing, history and justice quite another. The Wilson Mandate, finally achieved, but don't hold your breath.
“The surprising answer was given in secret briefings on Capitol Hill last week by Eric S. Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Cheney who is now undersecretary of defense for policy. Edelman, a Foreign Service officer who once was U.S. ambassador to Turkey, revealed to lawmakers plans for a covert operation of U.S. Special Forces to help the Turks neutralize the PKK. They would behead the guerrilla organization by helping Turkey get rid of PKK leaders that they have targeted for years.

“Edelman's listeners were stunned. Wasn't this risky? He responded that he was sure of success, adding that the U.S. role could be concealed and always would be denied. Even if all this is true, some of the briefed lawmakers left wondering whether this was a wise policy for handling the beleaguered Kurds, who had been betrayed so often by the U.S. government in years past.”
Ericedelman A secret use of Special Forces 1) in a country with whom we are not at war, 2) to carry out short-term and short-sighted policies 3) that have little chance of success, 4) in order to support a failing political strategy in Iraq. Shades of Nixon and Johnson in Vietnam. A harking back to Reagan’s Iran Contra black arts and Don Rumsfeld selling arms to Saddam. But Edelman is sure of success. Dare we use the term slam-dunk?
Edelman served as Turkish Ambassador after the second Iraq invasion, during which anti-American tensions within Turkey were high. According to Ibrahim Karagul, a columninst with the Turkish Weekly, "Edelman act(ed) more like a colonial governor than an ambassador... (He) is probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history, and his reputation is not likely to recuperate." (Wikipedia)
Bush has yet to learn that old adage “if you run with dogs, you get fleas.” You may also remember Edelman as the Pentagon dog who embarrassed himself and his boss (Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates) by publicly rebuking Hillary Clinton when she enquired about Iraq disengagement plans; writing her that
"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia."
I understand that point of view. Premature and public discussions can raise hell with the most devious of plans, especially when they appear in an editorial by Robert Novak. Apparently, Edelman feels that undermining northern Iraq’s Kurdish contingent by a deed so dastardly and perfidious that, in his own words, the U.S. role could be concealed and always would be denied, doesn’t unmask America’s willingness to abandon its allies in Iraq.
Define allies. Maybe Edelman means only the Brits. Novak concludes his piece,
“The plan shows that hard experience has not dissuaded President Bush from attempting difficult ventures employing the use of force. On the contrary, two of the most intrepid supporters of the Iraq intervention -- John McCain and Lindsey Graham-- were surprised by Bush during a recent meeting with him. When they shared their impressions with colleagues, they commented on how unconcerned the president seemed. That may explain his willingness to embark on such a questionable venture against the Kurds.”
Unconcerned is not an adjective you want to describe the mental condition of your president during a time of war.
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