Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Turkey Plays Chicken for NATO


Turkey took a page from Washington’s play book on October 4, 2012. After an errant shell landed in Turkish territory and killed a family there, the Turkish legislature authorized the Turkish military to enter foreign lands. In other words, they manipulated an incident into an act of war much like the US used questionable incidents to attack northern Korea in 1950 and northern Vietnam in 1964.   By passing legislation giving the Turkish military permission to enter foreign territory, Ankara declared an undeclared war on Syria. Claiming that there intention is not war, the Turkish military stepped up its alert status and prepared for war. Of course, Turkey’s status as a NATO member brought forth a barely concealed hope from Brussels that this might finally be the entry it has been looking for since the protests against the Assad regime started looking as if they might result in that regime’s fall.

I have a sister who has been a nurse working psychiatric wards for most of the past forty five years. Although she has misgivings about the use of psychotropic drugs in many instances, she has explained that they serve a useful purpose in that they create a predictable response for staff to deal with. In other words, once the drugs take effect, the medical staff can be pretty certain how the patient will behave.  When nations go to war they operate under a similar thought process. In other words, once a nation is attacked, it will fight back or surrender. The root causes of the conflict will not be resolved, but the behavior of the attacked nation becomes more predictable.  Of course, once the dogs of war are unleashed, anything can happen. However, like the fool who makes the same mistake over and over again, war making nation’s act as if the next war they enter will end as predicted.

The case of Syria is a tough one. The Assad regime is quite authoritarian and, at this point, the word murderous also applies.  However, the opposition as it currently exists does not seem to be much better.  Indeed, the increasing role of radical Islamists with an apparently reactionary agenda in the rebel forces creates a scenario where both sides in this civil war are difficult, if not impossible, to support.  The element of the resistance that seemed to express popular hopes for a democratic secular government in Syria seems to have disappeared in the car bombs and aerial bombardments that tend to increasingly characterize this conflict.  From where I sit, it appears the US and its alliance are arming forces very similar to those it armed in Afghanistan, while the nation of Syria is looking more and more like Iraq circa 2007, when sectarian conflict split that nation into many small and dangerous combat zones.  Neither aspect of this scenario is a positive.

As for NATO and Israel, it is important to remember that Syria has been one of several nations in the Middle East that Tel Aviv and DC have wanted to control for decades.  Always a proponent of pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism, the Damascus government has been a constant threat to Israel’s dream of a Greater Israel and, simultaneously, to Washington’s plans to dominate the region.  A co-founder of the United Arab Republic and now Tehran’s greatest ally in the Middle East, Damascus has long been on Washington’s the short list of nations  needing a reformat into a friendlier state.  Tel Aviv, of course, would rather just take over the whole place and make it their own as part of their dream of lebensraum for the Jewish people.

Since the protests turned bloody in Syria last winter, the western public has been shown numerous videos and images of mutilated bodies and destroyed dwellings.  The historical context and the nature of the forces involved have been minimized while the human toll has been magnified.  Much of this destruction was caused by the Syrian military and associated paramilitaries.  As the conflict turned into civil war, much of it has also been caused by the rebel forces.  The images of the former were usually provided by freelance sources that often have an agenda to push—that agenda involves the entry of foreign forces to support their side.  This is where the west comes in.  It is also where the recent threat of military intervention from Ankara comes in.  If Turkey does enter the fray, NATO will not be far behind.  As part of the alliance, Ankara knows this and counts on it.  Its opposition to the Assad regime has been present since the beginning of the resistance and the resistance’s turn to military conflict has been supported and propped up every inch of the way by Ankara.

There is no easy answer to the conflict in Syria.  However, turning it into a regional war is definitely not the right one.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future