841) Incredible : How does a retired USAF Colonel to do such harm

American publication the Armed Forces Journal (AFJ) has published an article written by Ralph Peters, a retired colonel. He is not only an excellently trained military man but also the author of many novels. So he knows his job and has imagination. . . .

In his article Peters says that if the artificial borders in the Islamic “geography” that extend from Turkey to India were to be redrawn along ethnic and sectarian lines it could be easier to establish democracy there. Although he knows this can be brought about only through wars, he thinks that a continuation of the status quo yields the same result anyway.

It would be wrong to attribute Peters' views to the U.S. administration. However, Peters is not just anybody and the magazine in which his article has appeared is not an “ordinary” publication. Then the question that springs to mind is “Is this a move made with ulterior motives?” Generally speaking, the countries and societies that have good relations with America would profit from the arrangements suggested in the article whereas Iran, Syria, and two countries where changing the regime seems impossible, namely, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, would lose big chunks of land. Is the aim to intimidate these countries?

On the other hand, some American circles, both civilian and military, may indeed be convinced that due to their artificial borders it would be highly difficult to bring about democratization in most Muslim countries. This does not mean that each and every assessment to this effect would be translated into policy and implemented. The cost and results of the efforts to bring democracy to Iraq are all too obvious. Causing similar situations in an incomparable larger area -- this time deliberately -- would be inconceivably idiotic.

For this reason we can describe Peters' article as something that does not reflect the official American views, a mainly personal mental exercise that is not significant from the standpoint of the real policies though being supported by certain circles.

However, there are certain aspects of the article that have to be underlined. A growing number of analysts -- Peters among them -- are now beginning to concede that multiculturalism, that is, multiethnic and multi-religion social structures are losing their validity from the standpoint of democracy. This judgment is all the more true for Iraq and other Muslim countries where the nation-building process has not been completed yet.

Furthermore, due to racism, many European Union countries fail to integrate the Muslim diasporas into themselves and they object to Turkish accession to the EU on grounds that Turkey is different religiously and culturally. Similarly, the increase in the number of people of Latin American origin in the United States is causing an identity problem from the standpoint of thinkers such as Huntington.

Meanwhile, a miniature society such as Montenegro has opted for independence and Kosovo is to gain independence at the end of the current year. These developments could speed up fresh partitioning processes in the Balkans and the Caucasus. The fact that the “international” plan suggested for Karabakh would give the Armenians an opportunity for secession from Azerbaijan -- through a plebiscite – confirms that such a trend is under way.

Thus, the principle that the borders cannot be altered, a principle first proclaimed in Yalta and then reaffirmed by the 1975 Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, has disappeared in Europe. Under the circumstances, can similar developments be prevented in the Middle East or any other part of the world?

The map suggested by Peters indicates that Turkey would be the only country to be “punished” despite having good relations with the United States though it has “no artificial” borders. According to the map, in an area of 150,000-200,000 square kilometers in the eastern and southeastern parts of Turkey, a “free” Kurdistan would be founded. The new country would have access to the Black Sea. The Azeris, who outnumber the Kurds by four to five times, would get a tiny part of land from Iran and they would merge with Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, even Tabriz would be left to the Kurds. Having no common border, Turkey and Azerbaijan would be torn away from one another. And, as the price of the “genocide” the Turkish provinces of Kars and Ardahan would be handed out to Armenia.

Is it so hard to predict the possible developments? If such a flurry of fragmentation is set off, the geography west of Turkey may not remain outside that development. Turkey may be forced to enter into cooperation with regional countries considered not very pro-American. If ethnic cleansing is an efficient instrument as Peters claims, new ethnic cleansing campaigns may well occur. And if wars broke out, the map may eventually take a shape highly different than what had been envisaged.

How does America manage to do itself such harm at a time when it is conducting public diplomacy at such a cost in order to improve its image, which has been harmed because of the Iraq war? This is incredible.

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Gündüz Aktan



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