• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.

Why We Don’t Dwell on Turkish Deaths in the West

Photo by Nico Kaiser | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Nico Kaiser | CC BY 2.0


is alone. First, we’ll take a look at the racist reasons for this. If 39 men and women had been slaughtered in Paris or Brussels or Berlin on New Year’s Eve, the headlines would ripple on for three or four days. Two or three days if the victims had been western European. But of course, this being Turkey, which is a Muslim country – whose people are not always as white as those from “Christendom” – the headlines drifted off far more quickly. Not our lot, we Westerners said.

Thus few readers of this article will know that, proportionately, Arabs were among the largest number of casualties of this mass murder: from tiny Lebanon alone, three dead and four wounded, both Muslims and Christians. We are quite unaware of the outrage in Lebanon at the domestic television coverage of the massacre victims – morbid, sensational, deeply intrusive interviews with collapsing family members, so gruesome that even the Lebanese prime minister had to plead with journalists to leave relatives alone.

Then there are the military reasons. Hasn’t Turkey been playing fast and loose in the Syrian war? Hasn’t it allowed weapons and money to be funnelled across its border to Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Qaeda, the murderers of 9/11 and the heroes of eastern Aleppo) and to various US and British-backed “moderates”, who can kill without apparently being “jihadis”? Hasn’t Turkey gone back to war with its own Kurds and the Syrian Kurds, too? Hasn’t the Turkish army – the largest in Nato, although for some reason we don’t mention this these days – been a bit disloyal recently?

For last July’s attempted coup – despite all the claptrap about “Gulenists” – was essentially a military plot to overthrow President Recep Tayip Erdogan. If a democratically-elected dictator (of which there are a growing number around the world) wants to act as a conduit in a neighbour’s civil war – as Pakistan did in Afghanistan, channelling weapons, funds and fighters to combat the Russians with American and Saudi help and encouragement – what does it expect but massacres in its own major cities? Touch Afghanistan, and the Pakistanis found the Taliban marching on Islamabad. Touch Syria, and the fireworks explode in your back yard.

Then there are the political reasons. The Turks used to want to join the EU; they’re not so keen now, and who can blame them? So their present policy is to take the EU’s massive bribes (courtesy of Angela Merkel) for closing the seas to Muslim refugees trying to reach Europe and demand the promised visa-free trips to Europe for its 79 million citizens, while at the same time making up with Russia, Iran, China and any other non-Arab nations that might be friends.

Oddly for a man who is nostalgic for the old Turkish empire – hence, I suppose, his newly-gilded palace in Istanbul — Erdogan has turned anti-Ottoman in his foreign policy, virtually ignoring the Arabs whom he courted after the 2011 revolutions in favour of larger powers.

Erdogan, who demanded that Trump’s name be taken off his towers in Istanbul after the then presidential candidate called for restrictions on Muslim immigrants, now thinks he may get a critic-free ride from the new guy in the White House. I wouldn’t be so sure.

And that’s part of the problem. For Erdogan is now so fickle in his alliances, shooting down a Russian jet and then cosying up to Russia’s president, loving Assad at the start of the Syrian revolution and hating him later, flirting with Europe and then jeering at the EU, that no-one in their right mind would want to get too close to the Caliph himself.

Anyone who can bomb Kurds while claiming to bomb Isis, who can demand that no power dare interfere in his country’s “domestic affairs” while positioning Turkish troops in both Syria and Iraq (where Turkey’s involvement outside Mosul is enraging the Baghdad government) is clearly walking a very dangerous path.

So what’s next? More massacres? Of course. From Isis, Kurds, Marxists, you name it. More attempted coups? Now there’s the more important political and military question.

More than 7,000 Turkish soldiers, including 164 generals, had been detained by last October. Not, surely, just to punish them. Any sane army knows that when you throw that many soldiers into the clink, it’s not to hand them over to the judiciary, many of whose members have anyway been savaged by detentions.

No, the mass arrests among Nato’s largest army is to prevent the military staging a more successful coup attempt – in which the Caliph himself would end up in prison. Or worse.

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit