Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Hate The War

Every now and then, when things heat up between the PKK and Turkey, we have to address perceptions. That's what this entry is.

I am forever taking sides, according to e-mails when this is a hot (active) issue. I think some people are bringing things into what they read and I think there's a misunderstanding of what I'm saying as well that we have to periodically clear up. And it's also true that due to a third group we are taking a position when I normally don't make a point to with regards to those two groups. And I've just assumed that the third party issue was obvious which was a mistake on my part and I apologize for making that error.

I really don't have a preference between the two warring groups. I don't go looking for reports on the latest bombing to say either "Yea, Turkey!" or "You go, PKK!" Their historical differences didn't just sprout up overnight. Our focus is Iraq. Those who feel that the PKK is being favored can look back at earlier coverage here and you'll find that I did not say, "Leave them alone!" There's one time where I felt like I was the only one saying that the country of Turkey had a right to defend itself. And that was when the issue was being completely ignored by pretty much all but the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. (Throughout the Iraq War, McClatchy's done a very poor job reporting on northern Iraq and filed very little with regards to the PKK and the Kurds. Of the major US outlets that seriously covered the Iraq War, the Los Angeles Times focused the most on the issue prior to 2009.)

Do I support the current bombing? No. I haven't supported it at all. The response seems out of proportionand there seems to be either a disregard for human life or a desire to take out (kill) civilians. That's the only way I can explain the bombing that's going on.

We don't normally note the Armenian genocide because we do the "Iraq snapshot," not the "Turkey snapshot." But we have noted it before. Heidi Boghosian of Law and Disorder Radio has covered the genocide and Turkey's actions to keep people from calling it that. That was probably more than three years ago and we noted it. We've noted it at other times.

We don't usually attempt to connect it to what's going on with the Kurds. In part that's because I was willing to give Recep Tayyip, Prime Minister of Turkey, the benefit of the doubt and take him at his public word about wanting to improve the situation between Kurds in Turkey and the government of Turkey. We highlighted The Economist in today's snapshot and we stop where we stop because I was not in the mood to pretend that 'allowing' people to speak in their native tongue and having a TV channel with their native tongue is 'progress.'

Put it into the US for a moment. Imagine all Spanish-speaking people were told that they couldn't speak Spanish. Forget everything that was done to the Kurds in Turkey. Just focus on the language issue. The US coming to its senses years later would be a necessary act but it wouldn't be progress.

Erdogan's only done what's necessary, he's not extended himself beyond that.

I read another thing today that enraged me. It was either at Hurriyet or Today's Zaman. A man spent a great deal of time on a lengthy essay explaining what he saw as the problem. It started out interesting. He felt the problem was national identity. He felt that Turkey (the government) had long ago imposed a national identity upon all. It did so because it was a nation-state, the piece argued. And there were various reasons that this was harmful for the majority population in Turkey. It was interesting. I didn't agree with it but I was thinking we could highlight it to offer another opinion.

But then it got to the writer explaining the Kurdish people. They too, he argued, were stamped with a national identity but they, he wrote, hadn't been given the chance to mature that the other group had . . . And so it continued.

How do you write that?

How do you write that and not grasp how insulting you are? It was an interesting hypothesis being proposed and then it descended into demonize the other, suddenly it was all about how the attacked population wasn't as good or as smart or as developed as the attacker.

And this ran today in a Turkish newspaper. And it will result in few if any complaints.

There is an attitude in the Turkish press -- in some of it, not all -- that hasn't been evident in previous attacks on northern Iraq, that's offensive and condescending and arguing that while the majority population is fully developed, the Kurds are knucke dragging primates incapable of logic or complex thought.

This is the attitude that not only allowed for the Armenian genocide but that allows the Turkish government to continue to deny it. So, for me, it is connected in this wave of attacks.

In terms of the PKK or any other rebel or terrorist group, I studied political science and I studied revolution, rebellion and resistance. (And no the actual differences between the three.) I am not shocked that when there is an attack on Turkish people, the government of Turkey feels the need to respond. I'm also not shocked when an oppressed people move to armed resistance. The government of Turkey created the PKK through its own actions. By oppressing the Kurdish population for years and years, they were creating all the elements needed for armed resistance. My stating that is not me making an endorsement of the PKK or any other group. I am stating that the response -- and it is a response, not an originating or initial action -- is within the range of standard human response and not at all shocking. (Those in the government and military of Turkey wanting to defend their country also falls within the range of standard human response.)

My concern in this wave of attacks are the farmers and sheep herders who've had to flee their mountain homes and become internal refugees due to the constant bombing from Turkish warplanes. That's why we wrote "Stop the bombing" at Third on Sunday. In past waves, we haven't even weighed in at Third. But this has been indiscriminate bombing and its forced a lot of people to leave their homes and become internal refugees in Iraq. Hopefully, they'll be able to return to their homes shortly. But they can't now and the indiscriminate bombing doesn't look at all 'precision,' but looks like this is about destruction -- not of the PKK but of life on those northern mountains. Along with how it looks, there's how it sounds and the Turkish military's statements have made this about vengeance which is never a good way to operate. You lose your focus and you make a lot of errors when you're driven by vengeance.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4477. Tonight it is [PDF format warning] 4477.

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