What Is Turkey’s Aspirations?

Now that ISIS has been handed their butts Turkey has expanded their use of force in Syria and Iraq….most of the violence is aimed squarely at the Kurds in the region.

Understandable since Turkey has had a hard on for the Kurds in the region for several decades…..but beneath the obvious I have seen some opinions that Turkey is trying to bring back their glory days of the Ottoman Empire and their attacks on the Kurds is to remove any opposition that might interfere with their plans.

A European think tank, Geopolitical Futures has issued a paper on Turkey’s Middle East aspirations…..

The central question in Turkey’s invasion of Afrin has been whether it is a limited operation that will stop in northwestern Syria, or the first stage of what will become deeper Turkish involvement in the Middle East. Given that Turkey is intent on clearing the threat from its border, and that Kurdish forces extend far beyond the northwestern enclave of Afrin, there’s little reason to think that Turkey will stop after subduing Afrin.

There is, however, another threat that is forcing Turkey to take foreign military action: Iran. One of Turkey’s greatest historical adversaries, Iran has emerged from the Syria conflict in a relatively powerful position. One aspect of its qualified success has been the ability of the Bashar Assad regime, with Iran’s backing, to hold onto power and reconquer much of the territory it had lost in the civil war. Turkey sees a pro-Iran, Assad-led Syria on its border as a direct threat, which is why it looked the other way earlier in the war when Islamic State recruits crossed the border from Turkey to fight Assad.


Keep in mind that Turkey is also attacking the Kurds in Iraq…..now this is a NATO country, Turkey, and their violence against another country is a violation that could force the rest of NATO into a conflict they may not want.

All this brings into being a new term….Neo-Ottomanism

Neo-Ottomanism has been used to describe Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party which took power in 2002 under Erdoğan, who subsequently became Prime Minister. Neo-Ottomanism is a dramatic shift from the traditional Turkish foreign policy of the Kemalist ideology, which emphasized looking westward towards Europe with the goal of avoiding the instability and sectarianism of the Middle East. The shift away from this concept in Turkish foreign policy under Turgut Özal‘s government has been described as the first step towards neo-Ottomanism

The Ottoman Empire was an influential global power which, at its peak, controlled the Balkans, most of the modern-day Middle East, most of coastal North Africa (at least nominally), and the Caucasus. Neo-Ottomanist foreign policy encourages increased engagement in these regions as part of Turkey’s growing regional influence.


With some analysis one can see the possibility that Turkey is trying to relive the glory days of the Ottomans……slowly but steady……this will not benefit the world.


No Atheists In The Trenches

Once again the old professor will throw some history your way…..

There is a saying about atheists and foxholes…..we are remembering World War One, 1914-1918 and the world that the war created.  The war helped make America the world power it was to become……

World War One had some of the most horrific battles of the modern age……battles where hundreds of thousands are killed and as many are maimed……

The are ten battles that would make a devout person question their beliefs……

World War I is responsible for destroying Christianity as a moral order. Christianity survives today, of course, and even thrives in parts of the world, but it does so in the West as a form of resistance or as a reprieve from the day-to-day grind of life in secular democracies. This was not always the case. What is now known as Europe was once referred to as “Christendom” due to the fact that Europeans by and large operated under a Christian moral order.

This is a tough sell, but look at the Middle East. Today, the Middle East is often referred to as the “Muslim World” and Middle Eastern states are commonly known as Muslim states. Prior to World War I, this was also the case with European countries. This understanding, of Europe as Christendom, became weaker as the 18th and 19th centuries progressed, but large swaths of the world still thought of Europe as Christendom and many foreign affairs conducted by European governments were viewed through the lens of Christianity up until the end of World War I. Christianity enjoyed a cultural prominence in European societies, even the secular ones, that controlled the moral order of European thought and action. Christianity was hegemonic in Europe.


I can see where this war would test a person’s religious beliefs……the amount of dead after each battle would make a sane person question their beliefs and their faith.

Closing Thought–20Mar18

15 years ago we went to war with Saddam in Iraq and after winning the war we fucked up the peace and allowed the insurgency turn into ISIS and as they say the rest is history.

I have been a critic of our policies about the Middle East….but I will put my opinions aside and let some other opinions come to the forefront…..

The Cipher Brief asked its experts in the intelligence, diplomatic and military to assess the war’s impact. Their conversations are adapted for print below.

Rob Richer, former chief of CIA’s clandestine operations in the Middle East and South Asia, during the Iraq war

In the most basic of assessments, we accomplished our tactical goal of removing Saddam from power. In retrospect, and based on the comments of senior Iraqi officials from Saddam’s regime, the United Nations sanctions were being felt and, in their words, capitulation to full UN inspections and other International demands was not far away.


Then there is “Curveball” the intel asset that was used to start and justify the invasion of Iraq……

As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west’s intelligence services as “Curveball” — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell’s main source, a man his German handlers had feted as a new “Deep throat” — an agent so pivotal that he could bring down a government.

As Curveball watched Powell make the US case to invade Iraq, he was hiding an admission that he has not made until now: that nearly every word he had told his interrogators from Germany’s secret service, the BND, was a lie.


15 years and NO end in sight…..

We were always caught in the middle. We still are. As a young man, a new lieutenant, and a true believer, I once led a US Army scout platoon just south of Baghdad. It was autumn 2006, and my platoon patrolled – mainly aimlessly – through the streets and surrounding fields of Salman Pak. To our north lay the vast Shia heartland of East Baghdad, to our south and east, the disgruntled and recently disempowered Sunnis of the rural hinterlands. Both sides executed teenagers caught on the wrong side of town, leaving the bodies for us to find. Each side sought to win American favor; both ation of Iraqried to kill us.


Most Americans know now that they were lied to to gain support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq….after all that in what shape is the country?


How many young Americans need to die or be maimed before we call the situation and bring our troops home?

Time For A Revisit 1973

My regulars know that I cannot let the fact that we are still fighting wars started before my granddaughter was born and she is 15 now…..and I do harp on the conflicts a bit much but since few people see the necessity to keep these wars in the minds of our people I feel that I must do so.  And yes I am anti-war and hope that if people see what is happening to our country and our military they too will see the need to end all this intervention for the sake of intervention.

Let’s start with 1973.

The year before the resignation of Nixon……so what could be so important that we should revisit that year?

The War Powers Act……..Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973, it did so to reestablish procedures for Congress and the president to share responsibility for the introduction of armed forces into foreign conflicts. By explicitly limiting the executive’s prerogative to initiate or escalate military actions, the act affirmed that such power rests with Congress. The founders assigned Congress this most important authority to ensure solemn debate and prevent the kinds of foreign policy disasters that plagued European monarchies.

I have bitched in the past about the fact that the Congress needs to step up ans exercise their power by re-defining the AUMF…….the Congress has been wimping out for decades and that we are fighting a conflict on most continents maybe now would be a good time to revisit the War Powers Resolution of 1973……..

The ongoing hostilities in Yemen are just the sort of conflict the founders meant to avoid. The Saudi monarchy’s war has become a foreign policy debacle for the United States, and hell-on-earth for the Yemenis. Indeed, the cholera crisis now facing the country is the worst in recorded history.

Yemen’s deteriorating circumstances offer Congress an opportunity to reclaim its constitutional mandate and help resolve a humanitarian catastrophe by demanding deliberation viz. material and logistical support for Saudi’s war of attrition.


The US Congress is staffed with cowards….they are afraid to do anything at all for it may piss off someone and it might cost them votes or worse…….. donations.

War after war is the future as long as the Congress refuses to act…….costing this country massive amounts of cash and the lives of our citizens……

When will enough be enough for the American people?

World War One–A ‘What If’

2018 is the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War One, the Great War……come November the celebration on Veterans Day….eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…..

This war does not mean as much to Americans as it does to Europeans but the after effects were for everyone….it gave the US its standing as a world leader……but a what if here….Germany had won WW1….

People who see a divine hand or the iron laws of dialectical materialism at work in human affairs bridle at the question: “What if things had turned out differently?” To EH Carr, historian of Soviet Russia, to speak of what might have happened in history, as opposed to what did happen, was just a “parlour game”. To EP Thompson, author of The Making of the English Working Class, such counterfactual speculation was “unhistorical shit”.

Other historians have confessed to being more intrigued. “The historian must constantly put himself at a point in the past at which the known factors will seem to permit different outcomes,” wrote Johan Huizinga. It is important to recognise that, at any moment in history, there are real alternatives, argued Hugh Trevor-Roper.


These ‘what ifs’ are interesting…like what if the institute that Hitler had applied to had accepted his application….would WW2 have happened?  Or if a baseball team had signed Castro would he had lead the Cuban revolution?

‘What Ifs’ are fun for historians to play with….and fun for me to write about…..

Explain Niger, Please

When I was in the hospital in October of 2017 and had my toes removed for good measures I wrote about the deaths of Americans in the West African nation of Niger…..and wrote several other posts about the event and the American deaths…..https://lobotero.com/2018/03/08/niger-wtf-cond/

In October, the ambush that led to the death of four US special forces revealed that US forces were operating in Niger in large numbers. The Pentagon hasn’t gotten any better with transparency, however, as in December, the US got into another battle in Niger, and it was never disclosed publicly.

The December 6 Niger battle, according to reports, saw US Green Berets and Nigerien military engaged in a protracted gunbattle that left 11 suspected ISIS fighters killed. There were no US casualties, so the Pentagon never reported it.


Well it seems that all is not as together as the Pentagon would have us to believe…….

 The Pentagon, already struggling to manage growing concern about the US military operations ongoing in Africa, is now facing a second problem. Last week, it was revealed that the Pentagon had kept a number of recent clashes in Niger a secret.

Pentagon officials are now trying to defend not just the war effort, but the idea of keeping most of the details of the war effort in Niger from the public. Unsurprisingly, they’re trying to present this chiefly as keeping the details secret from the enemy.

“They learn a great deal from information he put out. They don’t deserve a report card,” insisted Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. Other officials insisted all the fighting and all the secrecy about the fighting were totally appropriate.


Niger is a mess and let’s not forget the problems we are having in Mali, another West African country….https://lobotero.com/2018/01/13/death-in-mali-2/

Apparently AFRICOM is a screwed up mess that few want to correct…..West Africa is a hot bed that needs proper command…..but something it does not appear to be getting….American deaths are mounting even Americans killing Americans….

My Lai–50 Years On

Closing Thought–16Mar18

Your Daily History Lesson…….

When I was teaching class at university I asked my class to find Vietnam on a map….15 students…..14 wrong answers….the only correct was a vet of that war…..in their defense they did not know the name Arafat or Begin…..I would bet that it is not much better these days of the information revolution.

How many people remember a Lt. named Calley?  How many remember a town named My Lai?

When I ask a class of college students how many have heard of My Lai, only a few if any raise their hands, tentatively. Even they are unsure what it was, or where, or when, or who was involved. Why have we forgotten the nadir of the Vietnam War? Is our collective amnesia accidental or willful?

March 16 marks the 50th anniversary of the date that does not live in infamy. Does it for any Americans? In 1968, American soldiers slaughtered animals, raped villagers, and murdered 109 “Oriental human beings” in My Lai. That was the number cited in a court-martial 18 months later.


Today is the 50th year anniversary of the massacre……

Americans, including GIs, were losing their once reflexive faith that the U.S. military, with all its skill and firepower, would prevail in Vietnam as it had so often throughout history. Also shattered was the faith that America’s fighting forces were inherently more virtuous than their enemies. The unraveling of that conviction began in earnest in 1969 with the revelation that American soldiers had murdered hundreds of unarmed and unresisting women, children, babies, and old men in the village of My Lai.

For many people, the shocking news came first in the form of several horrifying photographs. One shows almost two dozen dead Vietnamese bodies on a dirt road. Many have fallen in a twisted pile; some are partially naked. Another photograph shows a woman lying in a field with her legs drawn up under her body. Her conical straw hat has flipped off her head. If you look closely you can notice that a large portion of her brain lies exposed beneath the hat.


To be fair……we must hear from the people that were there….the survivors…..

It was the sweet potato harvest season, so Ha Thi Quy woke up early to find a good spot in the village to dry slices of the delicately flavored tuber to sell.

She noticed some American soldiers in the village, but that didn’t alarm her.

“There are no Vietnamese troops here, so why should they start shooting?” Quy recalled her self-assurance in a bitter question that she still has not found the answer to……


Scars of war are the worse to bear…..

I begin my weekend…..lost in memories to times long ago…..chuq