Please find below:
(1) An Op-Ed from the Executive Director of the American Helllenic Media Project as published in The Star-Ledger (NJ); and
(2) Another version of the Op-Ed submitted.
Tuesday, November 23, 1999, p. 30
Clinton ought to stop indulging Turkey
by P. D. Spyropoulos
We are told that America supports Turkey because it is a secular Muslim democracy. Yet Turkey -- while secular and Muslim -- is anything but democratic.
Turkey has among the worst human rights records on Earth. Torture and extra-judicial killings are common, and the military continues to rule, Oz-like, behind a thin veneer of democracy.
For the fifth consecutive year, Turkey leads the world in imprisoned journalists and has recently admitted to using death squads to kill as many as 14,000 people since the 1980s.
Most of the 35,000 fatalities arising from Turkey's war against Kurdish separatists have been Kurds, and Human Rights Watch attributes the vast majority of civilian deaths to Turkish troops. According to a State Department report, up to 3 million Kurds have been forcefully displaced by Turkey's military. In 1974, Turkish forces ethnically cleansed 200,000 Cypriots after invading the north of Cyprus, which Turkey still occupies.
Despite claims that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests, Turkey has failed to deliver on the three main concerns cited to justify our patronage since the Cold War ended.
First, Turkey has failed to acquire any significant influence in central Asia. Rather than serve as a stabilizing force, Turkey has used strong-arm tactics, such as its attempt to overthrow Azerbaijan's government in 1995, leading central Asian states to view Turkey with the same apprehension its European and Arab neighbors feel.
Second, Turkey's billing as a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism is largely illusory. Turkey has little capacity to stem the rising tide of fundamentalism beyond its borders, and Turkey's paper democracy is far more the object of scorn by other Muslim countries than a secular model to emulate. The government's harsh repression of a growing Islamic movement is radicalizing it and creating support among Turks disenchanted by a corrupt elite.
Finally, the much-heralded oil pipeline from the Caucasus to Turkey's port of Ceyhan has proven too expensive to build. Rather than scrap the project, the Clinton administration has pressured U.S. oil companies not to pursue more profitable alternative routes, sacrificing American interests.
Since these foreign policy failures, new rationales have emerged, yet none adequately accounts for President Clinton's adamantly pro-Turkish policy.
It is not American interests that are driving our morally discredited policy toward Turkey but a confluence of parochial and short-sighted agendas. The most significant are advocacy by the U.S. weapons industry on behalf of one of its most lucrative markets (Turkey is planning to spend $150 billion on its military over the next 30 years), and dogged support for Turkey by the Israeli lobby in the wake of Turkey's upgraded ties with Israel.
The time is long overdue for Americans to reclaim their own foreign policy and demand that their leadership pursue legitimate U.S. interests abroad and follow America's global vision of democratic and humanitarian progress.
(2) Another version of the above Op-Ed
A turkey of a foreign policy
by P. D. Spyropoulos
We are told that U.S. support for Turkey is founded upon the premise that Turkey is the world's only established secular Muslim democracy. The reality is that this is only half true.
Like its neighbors Syria and Iraq, Turkey is a secular Muslim state -- yet Turkey is anything but democratic. Human rights organizations have identified Turkey as among the worst human rights violators on earth, where torture and extra-judicial killings are prevalent and where the military continues to rule, Oz-like, behind a thin veneer of democracy.
For the fifth consecutive year Turkey leads the world in imprisoned journalists ahead of China and Syria and has recently admitted to killing as many as 14,000 people from the 1980s to the present through the use of death squads and paramilitary groups -- almost five times as many dissidents as were killed under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The vast majority of the 35,000 deaths resulting from Turkey's war against its Kurdish separatists have been Kurdish fatalities, and Human Rights Watch attributes nearly six times as many civilian casualties to government forces than to Kurdish fighters.
According to a State Department report, up to 3 million Kurds have been ethnically cleansed by Turkey's military. In 1974, Turkish forces ethnically cleansed 200,000 Greek Cypriots after invading the north of Cyprus, which Turkey continues to occupy.
Despite our foreign policy establishment's dogma that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests, Ankara has failed to deliver on the three main concerns that have been regularly cited to justify our continuing patronage of Turkey since the end of the Cold War.
First, Turkey has failed to acquire any genuine influence in Central Asia either for itself or for the U.S., taking instead a back seat to Russia, Iran, China and to regional initiatives. Rather than serving as a stabilizing force there, Central Asian states are increasingly viewing Turkey with the same mistrust and apprehension as do Turkey's European and Arab neighbors. As evinced by Ankara's unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Azerbaijan's government in 1995, Turkey is far more a wellspring of political intrigue and destabilizing strong-arm tactics in the region than of dependable leadership and responsible global policing.
Second, Turkey's billing as a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism is true only within its own borders and only as a result of the military's repression of religious Islam. In 1997, Turkey's generals staged a "soft coup", overthrowing an Islamist-led government elected into power by a plurality of votes. Turkey has little if any capacity to stem the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism beyond its borders, and Turkey's paper democracy is far more the object of scorn by other Muslim countries than of a secular model to be emulated. Concerns have also been raised that the government's repression of Islam -- such as the banning of headdresses in schools, the imprisonment of religious leaders, and the outlawing of Muslim parties -- will likely radicalize the Islamic movement and make it more popular with Turks disenchanted by a corrupt ruling elite.
Finally, the much-heralded oil pipeline from the Caucasus to Turkey's southern port of Ceyhan has proven too expensive and impracticable to build. Rather than scrap the project, the Clinton Administration has instead pressured U.S. oil companies not to pursue more profitable alternative routes, sacrificing vital American interests on the altar of the President's Turkey policy.
Since the materialization of these foreign policy failures, new arguments have been invented to justify our Turkish policy -- such as touting the use of Turkey's Incirlik airbase by U.S. forces against Turkey's longtime rival Iraq, or praising Ankara's unremarkable support of NATO's war against Yugoslavia.
While reminding us of the relevance of Turkey's strategic position, these relatively marginal benefits could nevertheless have been proffered by any number of other equally strategically-positioned and far more democratic friends in the region such as Italy, Greece, Israel and Armenia, and cannot adequately account for our Executive branch's recklessly pro-Turkish policy in the region.
Why then is the Clinton Administration now escalating rather than qualifying its relationship with Turkey? Many are becoming increasingly aware that it is not American interests that are driving our morally discrediting policy of appeasement with Turkey, but a confluence of parochial and short-sighted agendas.
Two of the most important: advocacy by the U.S. weapons industry on behalf of one of its most lucrative markets (Turkey is planning to spend $150 billion dollars on renewing its armed forces over the next 30 years) at the cost of regional stability and countless human lives, and dogged support for Turkey's agenda by the Israeli lobby in the wake of Turkey's upgraded axis with Israel.
The time is long overdue for Americans to reclaim their own nation's foreign policy and to demand greater conformity not only with legitimate U.S. interests abroad but with America's global vision of democracy and western humanitarian ideals.