Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Turkey’s belligerent attitude threatens relations with West

Someone needs to tell the irresponsible Turkish government to calm down and halt its attacks on northern Iraq.That someone is President Bush. This week, however, Bush showed only weakness and timidity in the face of Ankara’s aggressive bluster.The United States should expect better from an ostensible ally.Turkey’s over-the-top campaign against Kurdish separatism has already destroyed hundreds of villages and killed thousands within its own borders.Now Turkey is shelling and bombing Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, and threatening to launch ground attacks in force. That would bring chaos to what has been the most stable and thriving part of Iraq.In addition, the Turks are throwing another temper tantrum over how Americans choose to describe the Ottoman Empire’s many atrocities against the Armenians a century ago.Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed in the late 1800s, and perhaps a million lost their lives in the midst of World War I.But the Turks want to quibble with the term “genocide” — so much so that they commanded Bush to drop everything else this week and rush to defend the good name of the Ottoman Empire on Capitol Hill.That empire was one of America’s enemies in World War I, incidentally, so it seems particularly unreasonable to expect our president to help whitewash its ghastly record.“Genocide” was the blunt term that President Ronald Reagan used. But Bush, kowtowing to Ankara, urges U.S. lawmakers not to approve a measure that uses the word.Turkey wants closer ties to the West and has long yearned for membership in the European Union.So U.S.-Turkish relations should not be a one-way street. If the Turks want our continued friendship, they need to act more like friends — and stop their attacks into a country where we have more than enough problems already.

Published on 2007-10-12, Page B8, Kansas City Star, The (MO)

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