What makes the Turks cling to a piece of land where a neighbouring people, the
Kurds live? A majority of whom in ‘southeast Turkey’ want independence, I
assume from what I read in travel reports and for instance Kristiina
Koivunen’s ‘invisible war in North Kurdistan’.
The Turkish occupation (we can call it that) of part of Kurdistan is the cause
of hundreds of thousands dead the past 80 years (mostly Kurds), thousands of
villages destroyed, millions of refugees mostly in slums in swollen cities in
Kurdistan and Turkey proper, environmental destruction, controls and
humiliations for the Kurds, months of boredom for young Turks, billions spent on
the army, political power of the army, lack of democracy, corruption, far less
investment and tourism than otherwise possible. Also, the Turkish threat against
the Kurds of the south (at present north Iraq) not to split off from Iraq means
that war continues there (both kinds of Arabs against southern Kurdish
independence, so they can’t sort out their own government), and the Americans
It is self-destructive behaviour of the Turks, most of them at least. (Voices of
reason drowned out as unpatriotic). They don’t know, or don’t want to know
that a majority in the southeast have a different state preference, it is just
the PKK terrorists who make trouble: eradicate them and the problem is solved.
Imagine, part of the dear rectangle on the map detached (even if one gets a
friendly neighbour and peaceful neighbourhood in return, which they can’t
start to imagine): ‘Turkey would be a lesser power, like my arm is amputated,
Turkey falls apart’. I doubt the latter, outside of Kurdistan. And Turkey
would be much richer.
Secretly, these same Turks think Europeans are a weak decadent bunch. Also
secretly, many Europeans think Turks (and Arabs and Kurds and Persians and what
have you) are incurable troublemakers, probably to do with Islam too.
Europe has had a few thousand years of war, and since some 60 years we have had
enough, we don’t go conquering or oppressing neighbours, we don’t mind if
part of a state goes govern itself.
Making war is not innately human.
Maybe a psychological world history can clarify something.
Europe and the Middle East 7000 years ago was paradise, with farming mostly
being done by women, men free to move and welcome everywhere, no sign of war,
large villages at indefensible nice spots, large houses, the goddess-culture.
Some 7000 years ago, the horse was domesticated on the grasslands of south
Russia and west Siberia, people started to move with herds of cattle and
horses, requiring large-scale organization; one man came to lead this and at
some point such a person said, this is all mine, I am king, you are subordinate
(the Fall). They started robbing other cattle nomads. They invented a male
supreme god (father Zeus). These Aryan (indoeuropean-speaking) cowboys assembled
the first small army to go for the gold they knew was around in Bulgaria
(bypassing a nearer population center in western Ukraine), and invaded paradise
6300 years ago, the most important event of the last 10001 years, that no one
seems to know about.
The high culture there was completely destroyed, hill forts appeared. The small
band of invaders had quite enough on its hands with the large population (and
each other) for the next 800 years. Then a new and larger invasion of Aryans
arrived, dispersing the first. The barbarians moved west and south, so that by
4000 years ago all Europe and Anatolia (except Crete) was conquered, creating
Celtic, Germanic, Latin, Greek, Albanian, Slavic, Baltic, Luvian, Hittite,
Armenian languages. Other barbarians moved from south Russia to central and
south Asia, appearing as Indo-Aryans and following these, Iranians, pushing the
first on to India.
So they were happy slaughtering innocents and heroically fighting colleagues.
Armies and empires became larger. From Arabia came Semites on camels, with Akkad
their first kingdom in Mesopotamia. Later Huns, Hungarians, Turks, Mongols
This went on in Europe until the largest possible military organization, the
Germans, was defeated, 1945, the second-most important event. Nearly all
Europeans had had their turn and now they had enough. It took a while for the
Russians to trust this: in 1989 they let their neighbours go free, also to
become democratic and get ahead themselves.
It seemed like attention would shift to the Kurds and the powers that occupied
them, and to the Tibetans occupied by the Chinese.
So what did the Americans think up: if we are to remain no. 1, Europe must be
divided and China must stay relatively backward undemocratic imperialist. Say we
give Saddam the impression he can take Kuwait (ambassador Glaspie: ’we have no
opinion on your conflict with Kuwait’), we organize the force to throw him
out, destroy connections inside Iraq but not too much of the army, incite the
Kurds to liberate themselves, then let them down. It’s a gamble that Europe
will not act; if it doesn’t, it is accomplice to murder and thereby divided;
also, occupying neighbours within existing borders will seem more normal and
respectable again. (Bush sr., asked why the US would not defend the Kurds, which
would take only shooting down the first helicopter: ‘civil war was going on
before’, ‘territorial integrity’; by the tone of his voice I first
suspected the scheme).
This was a complete success, the American terror of 1991, the third-most
important event of the last 10001 years. Only when too many refugees came to the
Turkish border was a ‘no-fly zone’ established that allowed Iraq to keep the
Kirkuk oilfields and Saddam to stay in power. The Turks had their old world
restored: they had no idea they were being manipulated of course.
After this, it was time to shift the old-fashioned imperialism, what I call a
neurosis, back to Europe, and draw attention from the Kurds. Secretary of State
Baker went to Belgrade to say ‘we want Yugoslavia to stay whole’ (=
Serb-dominated). This started the war there, as intended: the Yugoslav army
tried to take over the Slovenian border, they were thrown out, Slovenia declared
independence, Croatia too, Croatian police tried to take over Serb-majority area
within Croatian border, were thrown out, Bosniaks had a referendum for
independence of all Bosnia, Bosnian Serbs did not agree (I don’t know why they
started shooting and did not just join Serbia). All this could have been managed
peacefully without the dogma of territorial integrity, first of Yugoslavia, then
of its republics: a referendum for state preference to draw borders, with some
exchange of land and houses.
If the Kurds in Iraq had been protected, if Europe had convinced Turkey, Saddam
would have gone in 1991, the Americans would have left Saudi-Arabia, 9-11-01
(that everyone knows about) would not have happened.
Since 1991, the Americans kept up promoting ‘territorial’ imperialism. They
supported the Pathan Taliban who wanted to conquer all Afghanistan; they said
nothing to Turkey about Kurdish rights but did say ‘EU should accept Turkey
without further conditions’ (meaning don’t talk about Kurdish rights), they
helped Croatia to conquer Serb areas in Croatia, they supported Georgia’s
‘integrity’ (go ahead and conquer South Ossetia that wants to be with
Russia). They block a peaceful separation of Kurds and Arabs in Iraq; The report
by Baker (et al.) (yes, the same Baker) advised postponement of Kirkuk
referendum, saying it would promote violence, knowing the opposite is true.
You may have heard of one S. Huntington, who proposed a ‘clash of
civilizations’, Islam versus Christianity (among others). This was meant to be
manipulative, equating troublemaking imperialism (that Europeans don’t
understand any more) with Islam. Christianity in Europe is nearly dead, along
with other totalitarian ideologies, since we stopped conquering neighbours.
Indeed, Kurdish independence would stop violent Islamists and their dream of one
big caliphate. And the Americans know it: you can say they promote Islam.
You can hear me talk on this subject wednesday 19 sept. 19.00 CET, 17.00 GMT, on
ridderradio.com (click on jukebox, choose mp3-player, join chat to put in
comments or questions).