John Tabin has offered a partial defense of Perry’s idiotic remarks on Turkey, and he cites this post by Michael Rubin. Rubin believes that Turkey has gone from being an ally to being an adversary, which is no more correct than Perry’s comments last night, and his post indulges in exactly the sort of anti-Turkish rhetoric that I was referring to earlier today. The most serious charge that Rubin makes is this:
Turkey also helped supply Al Qaeda in Iraq.
That would be a very serious charge, except that the Jerusalem Post story Rubin cites doesn’t really back this up. What the story does say is that Turkey did not effectively control its border with Iraq, and Iraqis residing in Turkey were able to take advantage of that to smuggle weapons into Iraq:
One of the documents, a US military report, reportedly charges Turkey with failing to control its borders, because Iraqi citizens residing in Turkey provided al-Qaida with supplies to build bombs, guns and ammunition.
That’s different from saying Turkey “helped supply” terrorists in Iraq. Rubin’s phrasing makes it sound as if Turkey actively sponsored attacks inside Iraq, but the report doesn’t seem to support this. Rubin doesn’t mention that the same story claims that the U.S. provided direct support and weapons to the PKK, the Kurdish terrorist group:
Other documents show that the US has supported the PKK, which has been waging a separatist war against Turkey since 1984 and has been classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization since 1979. The US military documents call the PKK “warriors for freedom and Turkish citizens,” and say that the US set free arrested PKK members in Iraq. The documents also point out that US forces in Iraq have given weapons to the PKK and ignored the organization’s operations inside Turkey.
There were tensions between Turkey and the U.S. over the protection the PKK received while sheltering in Iraqi Kurdistan, but so far as I knew our government was never so stupid as to arm the PKK, so I find this claim a little hard to believe. Suppose that the claims in this story about Turkey and the U.S. were true. If the U.S. were covertly aiding a Kurdish terrorist group that is on our own FTO list, do you suppose that Turkey might take a dim view of that and retaliate?
Update: Claire Berlinski is no fan of the AKP government under Erdogan, to put it mildly, and she is well-informed about Turkish affairs. Here is her reaction to Perry’s comments:
Well, for everyone who’s concerned about accuracy, the US provides almost no aid to Turkey. It used to provide a great deal, but now the numbers are nugatory. If Turkey’s human-rights record were the sole criteria by which it was included in NATO, it would have been expelled long ago. The statistic on the murder of women? It’s ridiculous. The streets would be littered with corpses if that were true. The Turkey to which Perry refers–the Turkey of the 1970s–invaded Cyprus. It was hardly a high-water mark in Turkish-American relations.
Perry could have advanced a serious case. He might have noticed, for example, that Turkey’s foreign minister maintains that Islamist terrorism doesn’t exist. He might have made the case that his briefers subsequently made on his behalf. But he didn’t. He either didn’t remember it, or didn’t care.
That’s quite unimpressive.