September 24, 2003


The Turkish Card (WILLIAM SAFIRE, September 24, 2003, NY Times)

Will nations that refused to help overthrow the dictator now join us to finish the job? Will Iraqis welcome such assistance to end the sabotage and sniping by Saddam's diehards?

A key to both answers lies in Turkey, the only democracy bordering Iraq. The new Turkish government made the mistake of appearing to put a price tag for its cooperation before the war, to our dismay; now that breach is healing.

I put it directly to Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister here for the U.N. meeting: Will his nation answer the Bush request for a substantial force to help bring stability to Iraq? Answer: "Public opinion in Turkey is changing. A peaceful, stable Iraq is in Turkey's interest. If our government decides to send this recommendation to the Parliament, which meets next week, I believe Parliament will not refuse."

Is another U.N. resolution required? "It would be helpful, as would the invitation of the Iraqi Governing Council," Mr. Gul replied. What say Turkey's generals, who were silent before the war as Parliament refused transit to U.S. troops? "This time, the army supports going down there."

As we found out in Korea, the Turks have some extremely useful soldiers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 24, 2003 12:13 AM

My father served on the DMZ during the Vietnam era. He claims that the South Koreans were still scared of the Turks - they had some....creative methods of dealing with thieves from the local village.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at September 24, 2003 9:10 AM

Because the South Koreans sure had some creative methods of dealing with Viet Cong.

Posted by: Vea Victis at September 24, 2003 11:09 AM

Turkish POWs had the lowest death rate during the Korean War. I believe US POWs had the highest. Some have attributed the high Turkish survival rate to the Chinese and N Koreans not having any interrogators who could speak the language (hence no brainwahing). There may be something to that, but most of the credit probably goes to the Turks' strict military discipline and innate toughness.

Posted by: George at September 24, 2003 12:53 PM

Perhaps growing up in a S*** Hole country
prepares one mentally and physically for
the P.O.W. experience.

Posted by: J.H. at September 24, 2003 2:40 PM

They are excellent at raping women and murdering children. They have not won an offensive campaign since 1878, even losing to Romanians, despite Hemingway's dictum that "no general is assured of victory unless facing the Romanians."

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 24, 2003 3:22 PM

All armies are good at that.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 3:26 PM

That's tendentious. And not true of most armies in peacetime, though true of the Turkish Army.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 24, 2003 6:07 PM

So My Lai, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hamburg, Dresden, etc., etc., etc. were all one-offs?

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 6:45 PM

My Lai was trivial, except to the My Laians. The rest were all legit military targets, and far more humane than the Turks or the Japanese.

Atom bombs kill, but unlike Japanese soldiers, they do not rape first. Even Japanese soldiers do most of their raping and killing during war.

Turks have no off season.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 24, 2003 9:41 PM

Of course, when your side kills children it's a legitimate action but when someone else does it's a war crime. And we're still raping them on Okinawa. Put a lot of young men in one place and you get that, no matter how well trained or what ethnicity.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 9:46 PM


That is a huge libel of your own country and an unusal flirting with moral equivalency for you. How come the US could go through a long, bloody civil war and history records no rapes or civilian atrocities? The US and the anglospheric countries have a sterling and heroic record here, and the ocaasional criminal among them doesn't detract from that. Just ask the ladies of Berlin.

Posted by: Peter B at September 25, 2003 6:45 AM


You ever read about the GI crime rates in post-war Tokyo?

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 8:34 AM


Now you are arguing like Harry. I didn't say they were all Sir Walter Raleighs, but their record over the last 150 years is so much more honourable than most other armies as to be different in kind.

Posted by: Peter B at September 25, 2003 4:16 PM

There aren't any places without rapes. It is true that the rate went down on Okinawa when the Americans arrived. Down in Tokyo, too.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 26, 2003 4:02 PM