I noticed Vladimir posted an entry on his blog, From Holland to Kurdistan about The Good Kurd/Bad Kurd Dichotomy, which is high on my list of personal aggravations. I was going to post some comments to his entry, but as I started to write I felt myself making the change from comment mode to hyper-rant mode and, since I don't believe in trespassing onto someone else's cyber-property in order to vandalize it with my own rant, unless invited, I'll let my adrenaline flow out here instead. Prepare yourself for the following rant by reading Vladimir's post first.
Is the American University Foreign Policy Association and the United Nations Association- National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) Young Professionals for International Cooperation–Middle East Committee, only now finding out about The Good Kurd/Bad Kurd Dichotomy? Were they operating from a position of total ignorance before or did they simpy accept, without question, the moral relativity of Kurds vis-a-vis their usefulness to American foreign policy? I can scarcely believe I am reading this.
The U.S. reasoned that Ankara was doing what it had to do, and the fact that Turkey was using American-supplied arms to do so was not seen as a problem.
Please, spare me the vast understatement! Not only was the use of American-supplied arms not seen as a problem, on the contrary, it was seen as a huge benefit to the American economy. The US has been more than happy to keep the blood-money flowing during this perverse little exercise in free-market capitalism. Now that Turkey has toned down it's gargantuan appetite for American-made toys, we see the heads of the FBI, CIA and American-Turkish Council (ATC), and their entire entourages, running to Ankara in a series of visits that must have had the local hoteliers falling all over themselves to accomodate the guests of the Turkish state in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Certainly it is not the same manner to which the Kurds under Turkish-occupation are accustomed.
The membership list of the ATC reads like a Who's Who of corporate America, with the defense industry prominently represented: Bechtel, Boeing, General Atomics, General Dynamics, GE, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Textron, United Defense and United Technologies/Sikorsky. Those are the corporations that have filled their coffers by soaking Kurdistan with Kurdish blood. Other corporate members include: Archer Daniels MIdland, ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Frito Lay, Hyatt, Pepsi, Pfizer and Shell.
Does anyone have any idea of what the CEOs of some of defense industry corporations earn? Take a look at an article from CorpWatch, which shows that in the US, The Biggest Bucks on the Planet Go to Defense Industry CEOs. It might be surprising to see many of the corporations that made the membership list of the ATC also made the list of examples in that article. On the other hand, maybe it isn't so surprising, but it will give us an idea of just how valuable a commodity Kurdish blood is.
The ATC has non-corporate sponsors as well, including: the American Enterprise Institute, JINSA, the Brookings Institution, the Eisenhower Institute, the Nixon Center. Interestingly enough, the America-Georgia Business Development Council and the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, among others, are members too. Can anyone say "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline?"
What was at the heart of all these top-level meetings that were the source of a feeding frenzy in the Turkish media? Anyone reading the news reports, especially from a Turkish perspective, noticed that the heart of the matter was all those millions of Bad Kurds, epitomized by three little letters--PKK. Is it any coincidence that a couple of weeks before, Turkey publicly made itself look like the totalitarian state it truly is by attempting to bully Denmark over Roj TV, and that it got an even bigger bully, the US, to help it in its efforts to kill the right of free expression? Or that it compounded its image abroad as an enemy of free expression by the Orhan Pamuk fiasco? Turkey also endured the embarrassment of the Şemzîn (Şemdinli) bombing, in which incompetent Turkish intelligence types were once again caught sowing terror in North Kurdistan, which blame they subsequently hoped to pin on all those Bad Kurds, especially PKK. But, horror of horrors! All those Bad Kurds protested and got the attention of the EU.
We can bet that "Turkish human rights abuses such as scorched-earth policies, torture and forced migration," were never a subject for discussion with the American intelligence chiefs, even though it was those very same policies that created PKK, and Bad Kurds in general, in the first place. After all, to admit that Turkey did, in fact, engage in scorched-earth policies against the Kurdish people might be a bit too uncomfortable for the Americans, who have been enjoying a certain financial benefit from this entire program. Instead, Turkey played itself up, once again, as the eternal and innocent victim of Bad Kurds, whining to the Americans about how the War On Terror wasn't really The War On Terror® unless the source of all terror, the PKK, became America's main target.
For their part, the Americans had bigger fish to fry, namely Iran and, by extension, Syria. Speculation is that they want Turkey's help when it comes time for a military strike against Iran. Whoa! Déjà vu! When was the last time the US expected Turkish help for a military operation? Hehehe, you know what they say about one being born every minute. I mean, after the huge betrayal of one NATO ally by another in 2003, asking Turkey for help in another military operation has got to be one of the greatest acts of desperation in modern times. But, hey, maybe Brent Scowcroft and corporate America's heavyweights in the ATC can pull it off this time.
The big question is, which label will the Rojavayî and Rojhelatî be wearing in 2006? How will they serve US interests? Will these forgotten Kurds suddenly become worthy of moral relevance? Will they become Good Kurds or Bad Kurds? One thing is certain, it looks like the Bakurî will continue to sport their own label, made to fit in Ankara and Washington. Their blood will continue to grease the wheels of the Turkish Denial Machine.
Asked about the recent decline in participation within the Kurdish movement, Xulam speculated that one reason might be Turkey’s unwillingness to negotiate. “Turkey to this day hasn’t really taken the Kurds seriously,” he said.
I understand what Kani is saying here, about Turkey not taking Kurds seriously, but I think the wording is imprecise. Turkey has taken the Kurds seriously because Turkey has an interest in maintaining instability in "The Southeast." It is this instability which provides the needed cover for the Turkish government's lucrative drug-running and weapons-smuggling. It also allows Turkey to concentrate economic investment and development in the Turkish part of Turkey while leaving the Kurdish part open for resource exploitation. Instability in the Kurdish region also provides a convenient place for the Turkish military to hone its skills on an unarmed population that is forgotten and ignored by the rest of the world.
When it comes to negotiating with Kurds to achieve a peaceful settlement of the situation, that's when Turkey ignores Kurds.
The racist Turkish constitution doesn't need to be changed; it needs to be thrown on the fire and a totally new one rewritten, one that incorporates all citizens of Turkey regardless of race, creed, color, gender or ethnicity. After that happens, the educational system will have a new mandate, one stripped of the Kemalist ideology that has reinforced institutionalized racism since the founding of the republic. Finally, to make sure that everyone gets the message, a truth and justice commission must be established to document and exorcise the horrors of the past, establishing something on the order of Kanan Makiya's Documentation Project at The Iraq Memory Foundation. A possible framework for documentation could be borrowed from work done by the Kurdish Human Rights Project. Let's learn from the Armenian example and not wait for a century after the fact before everything is documented. All of it needs to come out into the open, everything, on both sides--including PKK, because as much as the Turkish state has obfuscated its own part in this ugly little drama, so it has also vilified the PKK's part.
Speaking on the American role in the conflict, Xulam noted that “there is a big gap between the expressed ideals of America, and the actual ideals of American foreign policy.”
Uh, yeah, the "big gap" would more accurately be described as a chasm, into which tens of thousands of people--or millions of people, if we count all the forcibly displaced--have been lost. The problem is that Americans don't care about their own foreign policy unless it affects them personally, as many are now affected by Iraq. Yes, the foreign policy of the US is the foreign policy of the American people--government of the people, by the people and for the people--and they must choose to educate themselves about their own foreign policy and its effect on the world, to include the influence of the corporate world on that policy. There is no better place to begin that education than here in this exquisite place of free expression known as the Internet and Kurdish bloggers are here to help with that education.
So, what are you waiting for, America? You just received your invitation.
Thanks, Vladimir. I feel much better now. Happy New Year.