At a cocktail party in Ankara, the Turkish military's deputy chief of staff pledged his support for the United States in our occupation of the country on his Eastern border. This marks the first such statement to come from any of Turkey's generals, and it must be welcome news to our leaders on the ground in Iraq, as U.S. forces are stretched to the breaking point, physically and mentally. If you doubt that assertion, you might want to ask the troop who took a bullet from his fellow American soldier during an unnecessary shooting at a checkpoint in a Baghdad suburb last Sunday.
Turkey has a long history of dragging bait in front of the U.S. and Great Britain in times of war, and this is just another episode for the books. In truth, it doesn't matter what their military says, because Turkish forces cannot be deployed outside of their own country without an order from Parliament. Last time the Turks voted on troop support in Iraq, it went down in flames.
But that doesn't mean our enthusiasm and optimism should be dampened right away. Hey, it was a cocktail party after all, and General Yasar Buyukanit was practically brimming with hope when he declared, "If there is instability next door, we can't keep our eyes closed." So what if he's kept his eyes closed since March, when this escapade began in earnest? Or, if you want the really conservative approach, so what if they've kept their eyes closed since 1991, which practically makes them an ally of Saddam Hussein? This is a new day.
If you're thinking that those Turks aren't so bad after all, you do need to be reminded that they didn't just walk up to us with this generous offer. The head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizeid, had to ask Turkey for the assistance, and he even set the number of troops required, at 10,000.
It is thought that the benefits, if the Turks deliver, would be manifold, specifically to the families of the 10,000 U.S. soldiers who would summarily return home. There is speculation that having a Muslim contingent - although Turkey is run by a secular government - on the ground in Iraq will smooth things over somewhat, since U.S. soldiers have received less than a warm welcome over the four months that have passed since those statues were dumped over in Baghdad. But speculation is all that is, and the principals in this war have already suffered from too much of it.
Ah, but more assistance is forthcoming, too, from another "friend and ally", good old Spain. The Spanish contingent, which includes a dozen men from Honduras, will be trained, shipped to Kuwait, trained again, and deployed in virtually no time. This Spanish Armada should be sufficient to quell all of the violence, and will no doubt do its part in the overall war on terror, too, which will make the Bush administration very happy. How many coalition forces can we count on Spain to provide?
Three hundred and seventy, Hondurans included. Wow. What a great gift of friendship, what support, what loyalty and belief in the cause. Three hundred and seventy soldiers, why, that should make the difference right there. Come on, Spain! Even Poland put up more muscle than that, and Poland doesn't exactly have the greatest combat record going back over the years.
To hear Bush (or any of his wooden dummies) tell it, there is a broad body of nations that all wish to see the poor, dear Iraqi people leading lives of pleasure and satisfaction. All across the spectrum of freedom-loving peoples, I hear, is a desire to see real change in the world. Let's do it for our security. Let's do it for our children. Let's do it for good... Then we get three hundred and seventy fresh grunts... just enough to replace the ones we've had to bury thus far.
That's an insult. But maybe we have invited insults from the world community with Bush's "my way or the highway" attitude. There may even be a degree of jealousy-fueled delight throughout the world, stuck as we are with our finger in the dyke. Who can blame them if they enjoy our begging for troop assistance? It's certainly a rare thing; ordinarily, the American people are blessed with leaders who possess the necessary skills of statesmanship, so we've never really been saddled like this before.
What we have instead is a brash, narrow-minded, uppity little junior president, one who has never had to negotiate with anyone (not even his father) to get what he wants. He's a spoiled brat who chafes at the concept of even having to ask for something more than once, and he now knows the taste of Gucci on his tongue. We'll see how he reacts when the predictable Turkish Parliament again rejects our audacious plea for their assistance in supplicating their fellow Muslims.
So, instead of a mutual agreement based on any diplomatic substance, Bush will have to simply forward a purchase order to the Turks. As usual, the only route to getting what he wants from them comes in the form of cash. Which is fine, by George. Like no president before him, he certainly is generous when it comes to our money.