The Duck of Minerva

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Escalation: Turkey enters the war?

October 22, 2007

I’ve warned before that one danger of war is that it can escalate. The Iraq war could escalate to include Turkey, which claims that it will attack Kurdistan Iraq. From Monday’s Times of London (it is already October 22 there):

Turkey will launch military action against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq despite frantic appeals for restraint from America and Nato, its Prime Minister has told The Times.

Speaking hours before the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, killed at least 17 more Turkish soldiers yesterday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had urged the US and Iraqi governments repeatedly to expel the separatists but they had done nothing. Turkey’s patience was running out and the country had every right to defend itself, he said. “Whatever is necessary will be done,” he declared in an interview. “We don’t have to get permission from anybody.”

Last Wednesday, the Turkish parliament voted overwhelmingly to authorize such an attack.

And be sure that if Turkey attacks, there will be a fight.

Again, the Times of London reports:

The Kurdish regional government, which has a force of about 100,000 men, has promised to resist any incursions.

Turkey has an estimated 60,000 troops on the border with Iraq.

PM Erdogan sounds like he has fully embraced the Bush Doctrine:

“If a neighbouring country is providing a safe haven for terrorism . . . we have rights under international law and we will use those rights and we don’t have to get permission from anybody.”

Turkey is a NATO member state, but none of its allies seem sympathetic to the argument that Turkey is already under armed attack.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.