Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Messages from Turkey ... Iraq, Iran and all That

My colleague Zeyno Baran put together a Turkish-American dialogue that met this afternoon at The Nixon Center, with distinguished visiting academics from Turkey from Bahcesehir University engaged in a roundtable discussion with American colleagues.

I was struck how the Turks, like their Indian and Chinese colleagues (per a discussion last month at The Nixon Center on India/China and Iran made reference to the limits they will go to isolate Iran. Turkey remains dependent on Iran for energy (even more so as a backup source for supply should there be interruptions from Russia, as the recent Ukrainian-Russian gas dispute threatened to do); therefore, even though there might be increased U.S. pressure for Turkey to lessen its relations with Iran, Turkey, for purely economic reasons, is in no position to comply.

It was also quite interesting to hear their recommendations on what to do about Iran--in essence, let the internal contradictions of the regime lead to its own implosion. The regime in Iran, they maintained, is not supported by the masses, it is alienated from the people--but external pressure allows it to divert attention from the economic crisis and to rejuvenate its legitimacy. Let time solve Iran; whether it builds up a nuclear infrastructure or not.

On Iraq and democracy promotion: participants noted that Turkey has had democratic institutions for up to 150 years--experiments with constitutions, political parties, a multiparty system, parliamentary governance--the challenge has been to take democratic institutions and turn them into a working system of democracy. Iraq has little of this infrastructure in place and few institutions ready--and so it is not possible to democratize via the creation of a constitution if the institutional basis is lacking. Moreover, there is a difference between a political elite involved in the process versus democratization which involves bringing the entire society, the entire population, into the system.

A quieting note: the fact that neither government in Ankara or Washington is talking about "the day after": what happens if Iraq cannot be held together or, even if Iraq stays together on paper, the de facto result is the emergence of an independent Kurdish state--a process already under way. Is the emergence of Kurdistan likely to enhance or detract from regional stability? Not surprisingly, the Turkish participants are concerned about the prospect of regional polarization.

I found it interesting that one of the participants raised the question about the thesis usually associated with the benefit of a Kurdistan separated from southern Iraq: the thesis that the Middle East balance of power changes for the better with the emergence of another "non-Arab" state to join Turkey and Israel (and, of course, in pre-1979 days, Iran); that the orientation of Kurdistan would naturally put it into the pro-Israel/pro-American camp.

Are we gonna have a war on hand due to energy resources

TurcoPundit - Daily collection of links on Turkey, US foreign policy, Middle East etc.

See also Foreign Press Review The same thing in a different fprmat ...
The problem is that there is no longer any overarching framework for U.S. Turkish relations that the Cold War provided, and the Israel-Turkish strategic axis hasn't been sufficient. The Cold War impetus is what helped to propel Turkey as a possible member in the European Union.

The danger of using the military relationship as the primary conduit is that when you had the 2003 dispute over using Turkey to enter Northern Iraq you didn't have other things that could rise to the fore.
I am waiting for Turkey to realize Europe is a dead end. Turkey could be useful southern energy hub for Russia and Eurasian option gives my Turkish friends much more maneuvering room.
Iran has the world, and particularly America over the proverbial barrel.

And why?

Because the fascist warmongers, profiteers, pathological liars, and woefully incompetent chickenhawks in the Bush government have openly displayed for all the world to see, and proven beyond a shadow of doubt America's very real military limitations.

Our hypersuperior military and briliant weapons can easiliy decapitate command and control centers and systems, communications, infrastructure, high-value targets, armor, radar, bridges, rail, roads, and airports, and kill many people and break many things, - but as the horrorshow in Iraq has painfully exposed and proven - what then?

Who or what takes over whatever is left of the country after the end of major combat operations, and for how long and at what cost, and for what ultimate objective?

What can any nation do to prevent Iran from enriching uranium and developing the capacity for manufacturing of nukes? - (and no one even mentions the unholy bug and chem seeds and recipe's that may have seeped into Iran from whoknowswhere, including, but not limited to Iran's sometime pals and the expert bioweaponeers from the former Soviet Union, or current Russia, - but that's another ugly story)

What can any nation do now to stop Iran's' enrichment activities?


There will be much wailiing and gnashing of teeth, but Iran has the worlds 4 largest oil reserves, well concealed and spread out facilities, a far better equipped military, some decent air power, moderate air defenses, missiles capable of striking Israel, good intelligence, a proxy government emerging in Iraq, the implicit and total support financial and spiritual of every jihadist on the planet should any attack actually happen, and Iran has not attacked anyone, or engaged in any relevent act of open aggresssion against any nation.

Conversely America is rather busy pouring billions of unaccounted for dollars and oceans of blood into Iran's emerging government in Iraq, and has its military and intelligence hands quite full fighting a pesky insurgency, plundering Iraqi oil, and profiteering wantonly right now.

Our $491bn hypersuperior military is stressed and bogged down fighting insurgents armed with AK-47's, IED's, and RPG's.

Some wise men say the wheels are actually threatening to come off the cart soon - and obviously here in the homeland there is a growing distaste the preemptive unilateral wars based on the secret conjurings of fascist cabals in the Bush government - so a new invasion and occupation of another muslim nation is not a preferred or very real option at the moment.

We can strike this or that target or facility, or encourage our proxy military in Israel to engage in an Ocirek like event, - but what then?

What if - allah be praised - some element of development capabilities remains untouched and operational. What if Iran responds in kind to a neighbor dear to our hearts, or rich in our oil - I mean in oil?

What if oil stops flowing out of Iran for whatever unknown, unknown reason, for however unknown unknown time, and the price of oil spikes?

What if China or Russia, or some other ME nations decides to retaliate in some asymetric way on whoknowswho or where to revenge another western nations' unprovoked attack on another muslim country?

There are many potentially catastrophic unknown unknowns in the reckless poorly planned use of military force in Iran - and the oceans of blood and treasure lost in Iraq provide a glaring and potent reminder to us all.

So diplomacy is the only real option, and even here we must entertain all kinds of complex intepenetrating factbasedrealities and many interweaving webs of connectivity relating to China whose burgeoning 15% increase in GDP demands access to Iranian oil. What about Bush's "soul mate" Putin who is maneuvering wildly to cement Russia's oil dominance and providing a very real check and balance the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government Pax Americana pipedream and American hegemony. Europe, and even Central and South America harbor certain economic and oil interests as well and could play a significant role one way or another.

What about the EU? It may be in everyones interests to prevent nukes aborning in Iran, - but what real incentive is there now for the Germany, France, Spain, and/or any other country outside of the spaniels in Britain, Poland, and Italy to meddle with Iran's "legitimate" right to process uranium, or to commit to siding with warmongers, profiteers, pathological liars, and woefully incompetent chickenhawks in the Bush government?

Like it or not, the fascist warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government and by proxy America has a huge 'credibility gap" problem to correct, and has alienated virtually every government and almost every citizen on almost every street on the planet, so any hope of forming a coalition aligned with the Bush government is dim and flickering.

No one, no nation is eager to jump helter skelter into support of the Bush governments round two of the Axis of Evil warapalooza.

Better for everyone to talk and warn, and negotiate side deals, a and talk and warn some more, and hope either Iranian leadership falls on its' own in due time, or that - American leadership falls on its' own and hopefully soon, - and that America regains it's former equilibrium, sanity, credibility, and strength, and the overall dynamics in Iran and the ME change for the better - because now the ME is roiling slurry of combustive ingdrediants, and Iran has all the cards in thier favr and can do almost whatever she wants, and no one can easily stop her.

This is the price nations pay for predatory imperialism and military adventurism. History ignored yet again, comes back to haunt the ignorant and fascists.

Either the military adventurist and fascist nation shifts all of its resources and energy to warmaking and the war machine, - or there are quite obvious, very real, and rather painful political, economic, and military, not to mention legal and moral limitatons to the recless projection of power unnecessarily, as the fascist warmongers, profiteers, pathological liars, and woefully incompent chickenhawks in the Bush government have ruefully discovered.

But just for the moment, - imagine what options would be on the table if America was not so stupid and reckless in allowing the waste of blood, treasure, and credibility on the Bush governments' war of choice in Iraq?

Iran was ready to fall to progressives and young pro-democracy students a few years ago, - but all that positive energy, enertia, and potential for a real democracy in the ME went up in smoke and carnage in the land of the two rivers.
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