Vice President Biden recently made some statements about Turkey's lack of policy implementation regarding international transit of individuals who intend to engage in the conflict in Syria. Even though the way he said what he said may have been wrong, Vice President Biden was not on the wrong track.
Even though he was for all intents and purposes, not incorrect, he apologized. However, the way Vice President Biden's apology was taken by the Turkish government -- one that is complicit in the disaster scenario on the Turkish-Syrian border that threatens to spillover into Turkey -- is nauseating. This is especially so because that apology resulted in the kind of aggrandizing that it did, painting the "saintly Turkish nation" as impervious to criticism.
The apology unfortunately only cemented the government's criticism-o-phobia. The Turkish government, given the extension of Erdogan's personality throughout it, is unwilling to admit that it is capable of making mistakes, that it has made mistakes, and that in its decision-making, the only criteria that matters is the preservation of its own power. Okay, yes, that last one is a rule of politics. But not without some basic principles: no genocide; for example, no complicity in risking slaughter.
Turkey hasn't acted accordingly with basic principles of human rights, nor as a NATO ally in this situation, nor as a regional leader. Bu the choice not to act is still an action. Turkey's major action has been to deploy military troops and police to cities in the Southeast where Kurdish Turkish citizens, over 30 of which have now been killed, are protesting due to the all-too-likely massacre that will happen any moment now in Syria.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once aspired to lead the Muslim world. At this time of regional crisis, he has been anything but a leader. Turkish troops and tanks have been standing passively behind a chicken-wire border fence while a mile away in Syria, Islamic extremists are besieging the town of Kobani and its Kurdish population. This is an indictment of Mr. Erdogan and his cynical political calculations.
I empathize with Biden's inability to choose the correct public conveyance in a complicated situation. Yes, he's a public figure, and diplomacy is a skill that maybe he should have learned a little better by now, and "complexity" is not an excuse. But I stand behind Vice President Biden bringing attention to the complicity of the Turkish government in the situation. Turkey is the chosen route to the Syrian civil war (come on, there are even people from Racine crossing here!). Whether or not they come through Turkey armed with just a tourist visa and some cash, or, the more unlikely scenario of carrying a stash of small arms? That's beside the point.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I have not seen any evidence of policy implementation that intends to impede the flow of fighters. I know that if this was a goal, that Erdogan's government is intelligent and efficient enough to accomplish it. But if Turkey is the major transit country to the conflict, then the apology should come from President Erdogan. He should apologize for fueling a conflict, for risking a massacre, and for being so narcissistic that an apology from a Vice-President who would otherwise "be history to him" gives him more concern than the gruesomeness occurring within his country and on its border.
I write about contemporary events and my hope that persistence wins over intractability.