RE: "Winking at Karadzic", October 28, 1996
To the Editor:
In his October 28th article, "Winking at Karadzic", Anthony Lewis criticizes the Clinton Administration for failing to arrest accused Bosnian Serb war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic in the interests of not "rock[ing] the boat before Election Day". Lewis' article stresses that "[t]his is the real moral crisis of our Government, not Whitewater, . . . we're allowing a Balkan Nazi state to survive".
Along a similar vein, Rosenthal's October 29th article proclaims that "International investment and trade can be a blessing. But they become suicidal for the U.S. when they enrich military dictatorships that stand for everything democracy detests and fears. China is a classic case--one more lesson to add to Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Iraq, the whole list."
Notwithstanding their rhetoric of outrage, what is most disturbing about articles such as these is their selective morality. In perfect step with much of the American press, Lewis and Rosenthal have blinded themselves to arguably the most egregious example of our nation's, as Mr. Lewis puts it, "bowing to evil". Turkey is a nation which Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and even our own State Department have acknowledged as one of the leading human rights violators in the world--with the imprisonment of dissidents, torture, forced virginity exams for women in custody, and extrajudicial executions widespread and endemic.
The Turkish Government has ethnically cleansed more civilians than the Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats combined; over two million Kurds have been forcefully displaced from Turkish Kurdistan, according to conservative estimates, through the torching of thousands of Kurdish villages by Turkish military forces. As in the recent and distant past Turkey has tolerated if not encouraged attacks against its unprotected Greek and Armenian minorities by extremists; cemeteries were recently desecrated and a grenade exploded in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the seat of Orthodox Christianity, on September 29th.
Turkey is an outlaw government which, unlike Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and other international pariahs, continues to occupy a European nation which it had brutally invaded two decades ago. The tragedy of Cyprus' occupation was heightened last month with the public murders by Turkish occupation forces of two unarmed Cypriot demonstrators, caught on film in horrifying detail, and more recently of an elderly man who was shot dead while snail hunting. Moreover, Turkey has been openly threatening a military invasion of Greece in pursuit of its expansionist claims in the Aegean, claims which include Greek islands such as Gavdos and Imia.
Turkey is a nation which is spending millions to retain Washington's most influential PR firms and spindoctors to influence American foreign policy. Turkey is a nation whose actions brought the ugliest word in the human vocabulary into existence, "genocide", having committed the first systematic mass extermination of another people in our century. Worse yet, Turkey is a nation which is spending millions more for the sole purpose of genocide denial and in pursuit of an offensive and false historical revisionism right here in the U.S. through the outright purchase of scholars and university chairs within our most prestigious universities. Professor Keith Lowry for example--an ardent denier of the Armenian Genocide who was exposed as being in the direct employ of the Turkish Government--was appointed head of the "Ataturk Chair of Turkish Studies" at Princeton University after a $1.5 million endowment from the Republic of Turkey.
What makes Turkey a far more damning example of our tolerance of evil governments than those proffered by Messrs. Lewis and Rosenthal is that the U.S. does not actively support China, the Bosnian Serbs, or the Iraqis (and had obviously not supported Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan). Turkey on the other hand is so flagrantly championed by our own Government that the State Department and the American press risk becoming accomplices to Turkey's ongoing violations of international law and its crimes against humanity.
Turkey, now ruled by an Islamic fundamentalist party holding the prime ministership as well as a plurality of Parliament, has been receiving the third largest amount of aid from American taxpayers' coffers after Israel and Egypt. The U.S. has supplied 85% of Turkey's arms imports and has given it $6.6 billion since 1980. Worse yet, we have armed Turkey with devastating weapons systems such as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS)--so technologically advanced that even Israel had not been supplied with it and so destructive that human rights organizations have launched a worldwide protest, warning that it will be used against civilians with devastating consequences.
While self-righteously condemning the Bosnian Serbs, the Chinese and the Iraqis in no uncertain terms, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Rosenthal's failure to cite the Turks and our Government's illicit support of their policies amounts to nothing less than a conspiracy of silence. It is time we heeded the old adage about stones and glass houses. The Times and other mainstream American media sources have not properly done their job of informing the public on this most insidious Achilles' heel of our nation's foreign policy image--our active support of a nation which exposes our house's moral mortar to be delicate crystal. Before we start throwing stones at the Bosnians, let's first make sure our own house is not made of glass.
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.