Right to first strike

Right to first strike

Governments make decisions on all issues but before making a decision, good administrators know the merit of listening to experts and taking note of their evaluations. Military issues, defense of the country, decision to go for war and such should not be left solely to the civilians. On the other hand, no one should forget the saying that goes, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Most of my retired military friends, admirals, generals, colonels as well as civilians who have served in key defense decision-making mechanisms for many decades, warned that going to war was no problem at all, but getting out of war might not be that easy. On the other hand, being resolute and consolidating positions might help to make adversaries understand that for national interests a country might indeed resort to war. Thus, being resolute could indeed be a very important backup for diplomacy teams to engage in serious talks for a negotiated resolution of problems to avoid physical confrontation.

That’s indeed what’s happening nowadays. Turkey is resolute. Yet, while it might be willing to fight for its national interests, it wants negotiated eradication of tensions through the restoration of its rights and interests. According to well-placed sources in the Turkish administration, Turkey has been rather resolute on one fundamental point, it will not be a party to fire first but Turkish vessels accompanying the Oruç Reis survey ship were instructed to be prepared to undertake whatever required if encountered with a hostile attack. Turkey, through various channels, has been holding high a deterrence card against Greece, France, and other countries who are planning against Turkish interests in the eastern Mediterranean that it will not strike first but if attacked will fight back in style. Those familiar with Cold War politics, that was the card the West has been showing to the Soviets that says, “will not be the one to strike first,” was of course, far more civilized than the American “preemptive strike” doctrine that devastated the entire Middle East.

I was one of the keynote speakers of a webinar the other day on the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and the changing defense strategy of Turkey, which included the “Blue Homeland.” Not only most speakers but participants as well appeared willing to engage in a war with Greece. One gentleman was rather outspoken. “Greece became a state without fighting a war. The Greek state was the product of a French, Italian, British and Russian agreement that the Ottomans did not approve. Greece never won a war against the Turks but suffered the Asia Minor disaster at the most difficult time of Turkey. Worse, while retreating and leaving the Turkish soil they left behind tons of villages, towns in ruins and set on fire the beautiful İzmir. So, is Greece suffering from an inferiority complex?

Obviously, we cannot go anywhere with such a mentality. The past might be problematic and rather traumatic. Why was Greece in Anatolian lands as an occupation force? What were the motives behind it? The “megali idea” and the “enosis” concepts not only ruined Anatolia and Cyprus after 1963 but more so ruined the Greeks themselves. Thank God, so far, the similar “Turan” concept of Turks remained in slogans and nationalist conferences never transformed full-fledged into action. Such obsessive illnesses might be found in the history of many nations.

It is a fact that since its creation without firing one gun, Greece has expanded its territory almost threefold. It is so unfortunate that while it was unrightfully presented by Italy the Dodecanese islands, it should have been handed back to the Ottomans. Greece did not stop there, it also illegitimately claimed ownership of Aegean islands, islets and rockets, which all rightfully must belong to Turkey as the inheritor state of the Ottoman Empire.

Yet, while being resolute like a poised hammer ready to engage in war, Turkey should act in full awareness to prevent it as war is a crime unless it is for national defense. That’s what Atatürk, the commander of the war of liberation and father of modern Turkey, said.

Yusuf Kanlı,