Along the Tracks

Monday, April 14, 2003
 

American empire?


This argument will require a brief trip down tangent lane, so bear with me.

It has dawned on me, perhaps later than most, that Turkey’s refusal to allow staging and passage of American troops prior to the war was, in fact, a very good turn of events.

Why?

First, it had minimal military effect. That’s the most important reason America sought Turkey’s assistance in the first place; since that government’s denial of access did not significantly hinder the war plan, it was not a dangerous diplomatic failure, but simply a speed bump.

Second, it betrays the lie of American imperialism, now being bandied about throughout Europe and among some on the American left. If America was truly an empire, concerned with controlling regions and governments, the Turkish snub simply would not have happened. Instead of a rather unseemly aid auction to woo the Turks, there would have been a behind the scenes threat of economic reprisal, an American-backed Kurdish state, etc., and Turkey would have had little choice but to acquiesce.

Instead, America tried to meet Turkish concerns by promising aid; the parliamentary vote came just short of approval, and the U.S. moved on. Truth be told, Turkey is likely to get much of the aid it was seeking anyway; America helps other democracies in these ways all the time, and it isn’t likely to shun one truly in need. You’ll likely see Turkey become an important player in the postwar development of Iraq, as a middleman in the sale of oil from the northern Iraq fields.

In a couple years, a stable and growing Iraq will return to its status as the top trading partner of Turkey. The American military presence in both countries will be shrinking, and what remains will be based on co-equal alliances, not a forced imperial domination.

These things take time - but they do happen, as is amply demonstrated around the world. The anti-American leftists will be proven wrong again, although that never seems to give them any pause.


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