OPINION bosphorus-straight

From the Bosphorus: Straight - RAND report wreaks of arrogance

HDN | 9/13/2009 12:00:00 AM |

We take offense that RAND would suggest U.S. coordination with European allies to make sure Turkey “understands” that any move into Iraq will harm the country’s EU bid.

There was a time, a certain age of innocence really, when it was possible to despise the CIA and associated intelligence agencies for their apparent evil. But today, we must regard them with contempt for their stupidity.

A case in point of international diplomacy at its arrogant worst is the new RAND Corporation report upon which Daily News Ankara bureau chief Serkan Demirtaş reported in the weekend newspaper. The “sponsored” research by RAND basically urges the U.S. Obama Administration to threaten Turkey with “negative consequences” to its European Union bid should any incursion into northern Iraq impede American withdrawal from that desperate and war-torn country.

For readers unfamiliar with RAND, let’s explain how American think tanks work. There are two basic varieties. There are think tanks like the leftish Brookings or the rightish Heritage Foundation that exclusively do “open” research. In other words, you can pay them to explore a topic but the results will be shared with the world. Then there are institutions like RAND or the Trilateral Commission that do sponsored – or “closed” – research and give it only to the “sponsor.” This is how the latter category of researchers get so entangled in plots and conspiracy theories.

In Turkey meanwhile, flip through the nationalist sentiment on any TV talk show or newspaper these days and one of the principal charges against the government’s “Kurdish opening” is that it really is just an American plot, a way to buy some time in Iraq’s one zone of stability while the U.S. evacuates its troops from one of history’s most disastrous wars.

At the Daily News, we have consistently and vigorously supported the government’s initiatives to resolve the long-suppressed issue of Turkey’s Kurds who have been denied many civil rights. We see this move as fundamental to the maturation of Turkish democracy. Like reconciliation with Armenia or the strengthening of ties with all neighbors, it is simply good and appropriate policy. These moves are good for Turkey. Full stop.

So we take great offense that RAND believes Turkey should be muscled into continuing this policy as insurance against a military incursion by Turkey in the wake of an Iraqi civil war sparked by the American exit. Such a report, particularly if embraced by Obama as policy, is simply a guarantee that the legitimacy of the “Kurdish opening” will be challenged by many in Turkey and probably derailed. Essentially, RAND’s warning risks a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We take particular offense that RAND would suggest U.S. coordination with European allies to make sure Turkey “understands” that any move into Iraq will harm the country’s EU bid. RAND should “understand” Turkish sentiment. It is clear this institution does not. And this is why we can only summon contempt for a report that reeks of arrogance.



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