Before the Syrian civil war, 400,000 people lived in, and around the Kurdish city of Kobani. The region is now mostly under Islamic State, aka “Caliphate”, ISIL, Daech, control. Hundreds of villages around have been evacuated. The Turkish border is along the city, just to the north. An estimated 180,000 from the region fled to Turkey in recent weeks. But many civilians are still stuck inside Kobani.
Defenders have only light weapons. The Islamists used bigger and better weapons, such as infantry hiding behind and around modern tanks.
Turkish tanks have been staying just outside, but have not intervened yet.
Erdogan, the new Turkish president (and strongman of Turkey) knows that its Western Allies, in Europe and NATO, wants him to order its tanks to roll inside Syria, and kill the Islamists.
Kurds inside Turkey have been furious against Erdogan’s inaction and demonstrated violently. More than a dozen died, just in one night. The Kurds know that Ankara fears and dislikes them: naturally Armenia and Kurdistan, nations which are several times older than Ottoman Turkey, ought to be made into free states recognized by the United Nations. Ankara, in that way, is similar to Putin’s Kremlin.
Thus Erdogan, all too happy to find an excuse to let a lot of Kurds die, does not want to intervene, he says, as long as its Western Allies do not formally establish a “No Fly” zone over Northern Syria. He claims to be afraid that Assad’s Air Force will intervene (Turkey has only heavy F16s not necessarily capable against more recent Russian fighters).
Hypocritically the USA claims that Erdogan is an hypocrite, because he should have noticed there is a de facto “No Fly” zone over Northern Syria. But, of course, Erdogan wins that one: he wants a FORMAL declaration, just to MAKE SURE.
For Erdogan to decide to use his army to help the Kurds is a huge decision, smacking of a near contradiction. For Washington, “No Fly” is just a signature on an order.
Erdogan is also peeved that he is asked to send ground forces officially and massively, into combat, while its Allies crow that they would not do such a thing, on a matter of principle (although the Western Allies do officially have “advisers” on the ground).
The question is this: If the USA and company are proud of refusing to fight on the ground, claiming that’s Politically Correct, why would they expect Turkey to do any differently?
The latest airstrikes were spectacular, they looked like mini nukes. And they may well work. And Kobani, were many Kurdish civilians are apparently still stuck, maybe saved. And it better be (although Erdogan announced it will fall, and so did some of its Allies).
However, moral superiority is where winning a war is at.
Moral superiority starts with moral coherence. So don’t ask the Turkish army to do the dirty work, while claiming urbi et orbi, that it is not Politically Correct, to do said dirty work.
The Tunisian born historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 CE), comes to the rescue here, to explain what is going on. Khaldun was from an upper class political and judicial Arab family who had just been expelled from Andalusia by the Reconquista.
This to say that his cultural background was rich, as is often the case with superior thinkers.
Ibn Khaldun explained his way, and correctly the growth of plutocracy (he nearly said what I said). He also disserted at length on the nature of (some) empires.
Basically Khaldun said empires were about peace (this is certainly true for the large empires which lasted long. Here is an example: before the Goths stormed the core of the Greco-Roman empire, around 250 CE, the region had known 300 years of Pax Romana).
Thus, says Ibn Khaldun, the empire becomes so peaceful inside, that it is forced to recruit barbarians, outside, to defend it. Certainly, the Greco-Roman empire switched to that model after Princeps Augustus decided he was best defended by devoted, and very well paid, German troops.
Ibn Khaldun no doubt had the vivid example of the Muslim plutocrats in Spain calling to the rescue savages from Africa such as the Almoravides; I mentioned in “Walls Of Common Lies” that the ferocity of the Almoravides explains much of the bad moods that arose later in Europe, against, well, Islamists.
Ibn Khaldun thought that the high point of a civilization entails a period of decay (from the growth of a luxury economy, something I rephrase as the growth of plutocracy). The next cohesive group that conquers the diminishing civilization comes from the barbarians who were asked to defend it.
Then Khaldun says the barbarians then become refined, repeating the cycle; this is no doubt the story of the Muslim empire.
However, Khaldun’s cycles do not apply to Europe. Yes, indeed, the Franks became more refined: some Roman lawyers wrote in Latin a law for the Franks, a Lex Sallica, and Roman generals (starting with Constantine), incorporated them as the elite of the Roman army.
Yet, the Franks did not repeat the cycle… As they have clung to power ever since: all the present Western regimes descend from the Frankish empire (except for Russia’s Putin, and it shows; right, he is not really Western).
How did the Franks not repeat the cycle? By staying sufficiently barbarian; by cutting regularly, by force, the growth of plutocracy (hence the French passion for revolution). Equality under inheritance and near-equality in gender (and thus near equality in the inheritance of women… Although not as much as in Sparta), led to constant wars among factions, and wealthy, powerful families, thus preventing the growth of full blown plutocracy (that took nearly a millennium to blossom… And was soon under threat of multiple revolutions).
By the Fourth Century, the Franks fought their wars by themselves, and for themselves (although the French used a majority of German and Polish forces in the ill fated attack on Moscow in 1812, and then again, more successfully, massive amounts of African troops in the Twentieth Century against Prussian racist fascism… Including my own dad).
What Ibn Khaldun did not say was that the peace inside a vast empire is not just a benefit (as it sure was in Rome, or China, or India). Torpor inside was also a plutocratic trick to put to sleep an increasingly subjugated population.
When the West asks Turkey to send ground troops while refusing to send its own, it is therefore engaged in a plutocratic trick so old, that Ibn Khaldun already had described it, black on white, more than 6 centuries ago. It’s already bad enough that the Kurds are asked to fight with inferior weapons.
There is nothing wrong, but everything good, to fight the Islamists to death. And if it causes dormant cells and sympathizers to engage in terrorism, so much the better: being terrorized of irking terrorists is exactly how terrorism works.
And if fighting plutocrats in the Middle Earth makes Western youth impatient to fight those plutocrats who rule at home, that will be an even more striking progress.
Wanting to crush infamy, is an absolute good. Infamous is the belief that it does not matter what happens to children who live a few hours away. Protecting children is an absolute good. Protecting children, even other people’s children, carries primordial moral weight.