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Turkey keeps up its own War on Terror in Iraq -- Is ours legitimate, and theirs not?


The latest skirmish between the Turkish military and the PKK, a Kurdish organization recognized by the US, among others, as a terrorist outfit, saw Turkey hammering a group of about 50 fighters in northern Iraq with artillery and airstrikes yesterday. According to the AFP:
The Turkish army said it inflicted "heavy losses" on a group of around 50 members of the armed Kurdish separatist movement PKK in northern Iraq on Saturday.

The army said it used artillery and airstrikes against a group of "50 to 60 terrorists" southeast of the Turkish town of Cukurca in Hakkari province on the Turkey-Iraq border.

"If necessary other army units will intervene in the region," it added.
Jabbar Yawar, the head of peshmerga forces in northern Iraq (Kurdistan), said without elaborating that Turkish aircraft were "trespassing northern Iraqi airspace since a week."

Iraq and Afghanistan currently serve as the highest-profile nations to which America has gone (technically "trespassing" into their sovereign territory and airspace) for the purpose of prosecuting a war on terror, both to exact revenge for attacks on our soil and to increase our (and our allies') homeland security by taking the fight to terrorists where they existed at the time. Having set a recent precedent ourselves of border violation for the purpose of national security, can we honestly condemn their crossing of Iraq's northern border for the sole purpose of pursuing and destroying a terrorist organization that has attacked them?

As Turkey (after their 2003 snub) has become an ally of the US in its Iraq efforts (70% of the supplies brought into Iraq by air pass through Turkey, according to SecDef Gates), it seems as though the best move would be to coordinate (along with our forces in the north and the Kurdish peshmerga) a combined effort to track and destroy PKK cells which threaten not only northern Iraqi peace, but regional stability (as both Turkey and Iran have been repeatedly provoked by the PKK and its allies, organizations like the Iranian-Kurdish PJAK).

This way, not only would a terrorist organization come under the combined fire of multiple military forces, but also the US could closely monitor Turkish (and, if necessary, Iranian) actions to ensure that those militaries restrict their activities to (1) protecting their own citizens and sovereignty, and (2) fighting only those Kurds aligned with the PKK and its terrorist allies. The latter is especially important, as both the Turks and the Iranians have demonstrated great levels of hostility not only toward those Kurds affiliated with terrorist organizations, but also toward the civilian Kurdish populations within their own countries, as well as within Iraq.

Regardless of how (or whether) a compromise is reached between the US and Turkey on this matter, it hardly seems right that America can deny an ally the right to defend itself from terrorist threats in a region that we are currently heavily involved in for the same reason.


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At 1:21 PM, Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Our modern world is so refined in many ways, but the absolute level of discourse on what war is and what is 'justifiable' has sunk below that of our founders. This is not surprising as, we no longer teach about the documents that the Constitution not only rests upon, but mentions both directly by name and via the types of law involved. Three major documents revolve around international law, the law of war and the law of nations with regards to warfare, and to the citizen's limitations as a citizen of a nation. Without that understanding as a basis of *why* nations bring with them a system of known interaction, we cannot differentiate nor discriminate between wars.

Wars, unlike individuals, are not created equal. The first major division in warfare shows up before modern times and, indeed, early back into recorded history, at least as far back as circa 1200 BC if not earlier, given the accounts of warfare outside of the western sphere. This is a major and pre-eminent distinction between types of war: public war, waged by Nations, and private war, waged by unaccountable individuals and groups who are not Nations.

The best known type of this distinction is also the most over-used and over-lawyered, so we refuse to actually look further than the most cited type to recognize the understanding form of that warfare. That type we know best is called Piracy, and yet the descriptions of the activities of what constitutes piracy goes far beyond the seas, booty, and parrots. Piracy, however, is a singular form within a broader category of warfare known as 'predatory war' or 'depradation'.

Whenever we hear folks bemoan terrorism as being a 'tactic' they have, unwittingly, hit upon the key point, but never expand it to ask: a tactic in what form of warfare? From the Law of Nations, The Black Book of the Admiralty, and the English common law, all pre-dating the United States and used as a formulational basis for the new Nation, these things were defined. And the reasoning behind that definition is this: only Nations get to do warfare, private individuals outside of the Nation State framework do NOT GET TO DO SO.

It is called 'illegitimate war' for that reason and is an abomination of mankind. What sort of world would we be in if any individual could take his society to war? That is not 'anarchy' but the law of nature, red of tooth and claw. Even our ancestors realized the blight of one form of this, called Piracy, and moved to attack this scourge wherever it reared its head as a threat to one Nation by such was a threat to all Nations. The US places an extreme distinction between designated warfighters and illegitimate ones, to a fault, and we could not sign the Paris Treaty to outlaw such, but we did work hard and fast with all Nations to ensure that pirates had no safe haven.

Fast forward through two world wars, a cold war and what do we find? Non-nation groups taking up weapons of war and attacking wantonly to impose their will on society. That is *not* terrorism, that is a precise definition of 'private war' or 'illegitimate war' which is a threat to all Nations, as reasoned above. Any Nation that harbors same and gives such protection and sanctuary has, itself, become rogue and outlaw to all other Nations. Do we say that in our effete times?

Someone might be 'offended'!!

Damned straight, and I am particularly offended at these barbarian warlords taking up arms to reduce civilized people to subservience. Where does that leave the US in regards to the PKK?

As Afghanistan is brought up: al Qaeda, a non-national group attacked the US wantonly and with malice aforethought to wage war upon the Nation as private individuals. As by English common law, law of nations and pretty basic common sense: when a Nation is attacked it is already at war, and any that give aid, comfort, support, and safe harbor to such enemies is an enemy of the US, pure and simple. That is non-PC but it has a prime moving point behind it - it works to keep Nations accountable for what goes on in their borders. That is why we have Nations.

Iraq is a different case: we had a cease fire with Saddam Hussein to allow him time to do the civilized thing and come clean on WMDs, long range missiles, aiding terrorists, kidnapping Kuwaitis and a few US Armed Service personnel that he would not account for nor allow anyone outside of Iraq to search for. Over a period of 12 long years he snubbed his nose at the cease fire, violated it many times and continued to try and undermine the will to hold it. Those are all documented and Congress said that we need to clean the place out of Saddam, terrorists and get an accountable government in place. Legitimate? After TWO Congressional authorizations, a slew of UN findings and Saddam still firing at us during a cease-fire? Can't think of anything more legitimate than that, really.

Now, the PKK: it is a terrorist organization, and we have stated it being so. We have had over 40 years of Presidents who just didn't want to call attacks upon the Nation as just that and use the tools of war to rid us of these private war miscreants. We have good relations with the Kurds and should get this message across: in our eyes the PKK are 'insurgents' threatening a sovereign nation, and you have seen what we do with those in Iraq.

Some A-10 runs, spotting and actually helping Turkey to close the borders and find and eliminate these threats might just help to get that point across *if* Turkey asks us to help. I have heard much in the way of complaints, little in the way of asking for help - a bit of diplo work on Turkey would do wonders to get them to stop the shouting and to start the asking for help. Not only would the US have to help them, but so would Iraq... that is if they have an Embassy in Baghdad along with an Ambassador to represent Turkey.

Of course that is the right, proper, expected and well known way to do things which we stopped doing in the 20th century. And so we can no longer actually recognize a difference between public and private war. That is, BTW, why the US will never sign the GC regarding terrorists: we can't as the Constitution gives clear definition between legitimate warfighters having Nation State backing and those who are illegitimate who do not. That is an offense against the Law of Nations for Congress to address, just as it says in Article I, Section 8. Crack open Book III of Vattel's Law of Nations and you see what is done with those fighting illegitimate wars. But then that is *civilized*... beats me what we are doing these days, but it sure isn't that.


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