close ties between Washington and Jakarta, the U.N. Security Council
has unanimously authorized the use of force by a substantial peacekeeping
force in East Timor, which will include American soldiers. For
three months earlier this year, NATO under U.S. leadership pounded
both civilian and military targets in Yugoslavia with more explosives
than were dropped on Germany during any comparable period in World
War II. Both actions were undertaken in the name of human rights.
The time is now ripe for a genuine reevaluation
of the one policy that most undermines the U.S. and NATO's credibility
regarding their commitment to human rights and international law,
namely, their unconditional support of the Turkish state.
While condemning Milosevic's regime in Belgrade,
Washington continues to lavish military and political support
to Turkey, one of the worst human rights violators on earth according
to major human rights groups.
From the 1980's to the present, the Turkish
state has admitted to killing as many as 14,000 people through
the use of death squads and paramilitary groups -- almost five
times more dissidents than were killed under Chilean dictator
The State Department's annual report on
human rights has documented the destruction of 3,000 Kurdish villages
by Turkey's armed forces and what has amounted to the ethnic cleansing
of between one to three million Kurdish civilians from their lands.
In 1974, Turkey launched two separate invasions
of Cyprus under the pretext of safeguarding the island's constitutional
order subsequent to a failed coup attempt backed by Greece. Far
from preserving the Republic of Cyprus, Turkish forces conquered
almost 40% of its territory while killings thousands and perpetrating
other serious human rights violations.
Under the code name "Operation Attila",
the Turkish military ethnically cleansed 200,000 Greek Cypriots,
who comprise 80% of the island's population. The importing of
Turkey's culture of repression and the introduction of thousands
of Turkish settlers to consolidate the seizure of Cypriot property
has resulted in the exodus of as much as half of Cyprus' native
Turkish population, which has left in search of greater political
and economic freedom elsewhere.
Ankara's claim that its large occupation
army is necessary for the protection of the island's Turkish minority
was discredited last summer when Cyprus' proposal for the demilitarization
of the entire island was rejected. U.N. and U.S. diplomats will
privately admit what they cannot publicly acknowledge: that intransigence
on the part of the Turkish government has amounted to a diplomatic
monkey wrench precluding any foreseeable peace talks on Cyprus.
Yet unlike in Kosovo or East Timor, the
U.S. has failed to apply any genuine pressure on the Turkish government
to withdraw its forces from Cyprus or to curb its ethnic cleansing
Since 1955 NATO and the U.S. have remained
silent as the Turkish government destroyed the ancient Greek community
of Constantinople, today called Istanbul, through pogroms, mass
expulsions, and other discriminatory policies, reducing it from
a population of over 100,000 in 1955 to less than 2,500 today.
While the Turkish government showcases hollow
Christian shrines to tourists, the Ecumenical Patriarchate --
the last vestige of Eastern Orthodox Christianity as a living
faith in Turkey -- teeters on the verge of extinction. To the
complete indifference of the West Turkey has banned the Patriarchate's
only seminary, and over the last five years there have been four
attempts on the life of Patriarch Bartholomeos by extremists.
The Turkish state has arguably been our
century's most efficient practitioner of ethnic cleansing. Turkey
continues to deny the genocide of its Armenians and, because Ankara
has learned that it can count on the unconditional support of
Washington and NATO, Turkey will continue to attack its Kurdish
minority and deny its Cypriot victims the hope that they may one
day return to their ancestral homes. Even our closest allies have
been unable to reconcile what amounts to patent hypocrisy vis-a-vis
Kosovo, Cyprus and Turkey's Kurds.
The selective use of military force under
the guise of humanitarian intervention may have irreparably damaged
America's and NATO's moral authority and thus its ability to take
any meaningful leadership role in the future.
It is high time that the U.S. and NATO try
to salvage this most important quality of true leadership -- in
a rudderless and volatile global environment that so desperately
needs it -- by addressing our foreign policy 's most vulnerable
Achilles heel: our unqualified support of Turkey.