American soldiers are on their way to Turkey to precariously close locations to the Turkish-Syrian border. While the official explanation is that it is for the protection of Turkey (a fellow NATO member) amid Syria's ongoing civil war, some are skeptical about the claim, and think something more may be occurring — for all the right reasons.
Four hundred U.S. soldiers are being sent to man the anti-missile batteries along the Turkish-Syrian border. Whether it truly is for defensive purposes or for an impending conflict, there are a few issues that should be discussed beforehand.
First and foremost, Turkey itself is an issue. Geopolitically, having Turkey in NATO provides the organization with a strategic foothold in the Middle East. Turkey is also a perennial EU hopeful that for the past 40 years consistently fails to meet EU requirements, and will probably never attain EU membership. Like a good NATO member, Turkey’s government, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had some very harsh words for the Syrian government and accused President Bashar al-Assad of “attempted genocide.”
The hypocrisy of such an accusation, however, is unknown to some. Turkey, and its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, had managed to go through with no less than three genocides in the past century. Pontic Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians were all but virtually wiped out, while the Turkish state adamantly refuses to admit they had any direct involvement. Twenty-one countries have recognized the Armenian massacres as genocide, while the U.S. Government has failed to do so as to not hamper relations with Turkey, despite 43 U.S. states recognizing the genocide. The Kurds also deserve an honorable mention as a group that have been persecuted on-and-off for the past century, while other ethnic and religious minorities such as the Alevis face occasional attacks.
Something like that cannot be overlooked. Assuming there is a genocide occurring (and history shows these assumptions can be wrong, e.g. Kosovo), at what price do we intervene to put a halt to the human rights violations? If those troops in Turkey are just a build-up for something much bigger, then how can we ignore Turkey’s consistent gross human rights record, and use its convenient geographic location as a launchpad into Syria?
Going back to the issue of whether it is to defend Turkey or launch an attack, it is probably the latter. Turkey, being a NATO member, is guaranteed by the NATO charter that any attack on them is an attack on NATO, and consequently all other member states. Whether Turkey would be able to handle it themselves (and they would be), is then irrelevant. However, would Syria even attack Turkey? Other than stray missiles, the chances of Syria attacking Turkey are very low. It would be very strange for a state that is on the brink of collapse, with the central government losing control, to attack a neighboring state.
When looking at the picture as a whole, defending Turkey seems to appear more an excuse to begin an intervention in Syria. Turkey’s involvement in the compassionate “We need to champion human rights” discourse is a mockery to the very principle. The West must also take into account the Vietnam scenario, and the lesser discussed Lebanon civil war that NATO had to pull out of during Reagan’s administration. Let’s not forget, Iran is a player in the Syrian fiasco as well, and it seems that the U.S. is merely buying time until their intervention is a “secure” one.