Cold Calling the Turks

America, 2003. A nation that has managed to use existential angst [“hell is other nations’ sovereignty”] as a cover for buck-naked imperial aggression. Some folks like to say that America is an unseemly bully on the global stage, the equivalent of being a 300 pound midget wrestler. Others like to say that America’s “willingness to go it alone” is only troubling because the wisdom of other world powers should be respected.

Is America a bully on the international stage? Well, I know this government can basically do its will unto my person “at a time of its choosing”, and that’s certainly bullying, but that’s in the domestic theater. Of course, I see their Iraqi checkpoints, and the pang of familiarity those put in my chest recall what Rumsfeld said the other day. “Weakness is provocative”; to Russert, on Meet the Press.

So let’s assume that America is a bully. Is it wrong for a bully to go it alone? To invade a country, to subjugate its people and call it “liberation.”? In a very real sense, no. If we understand war in its proper context — that of a dissolution of extant business relationships — then we see the grounds upon which aggressive war can be justified. If all relationships end badly, like Tom Cruise said in Cocktail, then we can see that it’s our responsibility to end things as soon as they start to go south.

So, in that context, it’s not such a big deal that US corporations facilitated the buildup of such as Hitler, Stalin, and the lesser lights who followed them, to serve as surrogate Satans for a season or two. Fund one bastard to fund a crusade to obliterate the last bastard you built up; that makes business sense, just as it makes “business sense” to use one credit card to pay off another. It’s great “business sense”, since it degrades the currency, exhausting its energy in an ultimately hollow series of transactions.

The Iraqis could tell you all about degraded currency, seeing as theirs is worth far less than one percent of what it was valued at fifteen years ago. The unhappy lesson taught to the world through their example is that, if you play ball with the US, it pays to become as indispensable a client state as possible. It also pays to press for increased payoffs perpetually; so desperate is Washington for an international imprimatur for its actions that they’ll sell out American soldiers who fought the last war to buy coalition partners for the current one.

And like Richard Perle said in happier times regarding Turkish participation in the war, “it’s never too late” to get started. Despite the fact that Turkey rejected US pleas to use Turkish land to facilitate the northern front of the Iraqi war, the press worldwide abounds with stories of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s overtures to Turkey for that country’s cooperation in the US effort.

Last time Colin’s dealings with the Turks were publicized, our government was offering them over $20 billion [in admittedly degraded US dollars] to allow US forces to use Turkish land as a staging area for a Northern Iraq invasion front. This time, the mission was intended to keep Turkish forces from taking advantage of overstretched Iraqi resources to invade Iraq themselves.

Colin Powell is no diplomat. He’s a telemarketer. It’s sobering that the Secretary of State would go to such lengths to lease the cooperation of a country whose military we’ve largely financed over the last few decades. Just as it’s most unfortunate that our country lists world powers like the Solomon Islands as a coalition partner without bothering to ask them if they were in or not before issuing the press release. It’s an embarrassment that our nation’s leaders are reduced to bowing before leaders of countries that even lack militaries. What can they possibly offer the Coalition, Colin?

Coalition-building obscures the fundamental amorality on which Operation Iraqi Freedom is based. The State Department is selling out the US for the foreseeable future in order to facilitate this alleged liberation of a people who don’t seem to see it as such. To facilitate destruction 10,000 miles from our shores. These are the actions of what some might call a “dying regime,” one that sees unwarranted destruction and plunder as the easiest way to maintain the fictions that it hopes will support the American economy until the current gang is out of office.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI’s columns frequently appear in Counterpunch. Comments welcome at

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ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at