Thursday, October 25, 2007

Limited War

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan will not let our objections stop him from hitting PKK terrorists inside Iraq:

The Bush administration "might wish that we do not carry out a cross-border offensive, but we make the decision on what we have to do," Erdogan said during a visit to Romania. "We have taken necessary steps in this struggle so far, and now we are forced to take this step and we will take it."

Of course, when we wanted to invade Iraq from Turkish soil in 2003, the Turks weren't so understanding.

But let's not dwell on that, I suppose. If the Turks "invade" Iraq to go after Kurdish PKK camps, it does not mean that it will automatically cause a crisis that splits apart Iraq. Indeed, I doubt it will. The Iranians have routinely shelled Kurdish regions in an effort to hit Iranian Kurds seeking shelter in Iraq. And we of course know about Iran's busy agents inside Iraq.

Even a Turkish military incursion is hardly unique. As the prime minister stated, they've taken necessary steps before. Back during the Iran-Iraq War, the Turks went into northern Iraq in force during early 1983:

In May, in Iraq's Kurdish regions where Kurds were rebelling in growing strength, two Turkish commando brigades supported by air power crossed into Iraq to battle the Kurds. Turkey's battle with its own Kurdish minority led her to cooperate with Hussein against a common enemy. Another operation saw Turkish troops enter northern Iraq briefly to help defend the oil pipeline that entered and crossed Turkey.

Saddam did not mind these incursions since it effectively helped him out.

I'm not saying I'd be happy with the Turks doing this now, but I understand their impatience that nothing is being done on the Iraq side that stops the PKK.

Of course, this problem has been going on for a long time, through Saddam's rule, de facto Kurdish independence after Desert Storm, and the current autonomous Kurdish area under a democratic government. Indeed, the Turks keep some troops on the Iraqi side of the border right now without complaints from Baghdad.

I trust this problem will be with us for a long time.

So if the Turks go in shallow and for a limited period of time, leaving some of the troops behind inside Iraq when the major forces pull back to keep the PKK from flowing back in too freely, I think things will be just fine.

Some people here think that everything that is happening now in the region is new and, of course, caused by us.

And more importantly, some people seem just primed to panic over every little thing that happens.