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World View: Kurdish Riots Continue as Turkey Deals with the Kobani Conundrum

World View: Kurdish Riots Continue as Turkey Deals with the Kobani Conundrum

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum
  • Why do so many Chinese expect war?

Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum

Turkish army tanks have been lined up on the Syrian border across from Kobani for a week (Hurriyet)
Turkish army tanks have been lined up on the Syrian border across from Kobani for a week (Hurriyet)

Kurds in cities across Turkey continue to express fury that Turkey isnot intervening to save the Kurds living in Kobani, Syria, on theborder with Turkey, from the approaching forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). It’s possible that hundredsof thousands of Kurds are about to be slaughtered by ISIS, butTurkey’s military has a row of tanks along the border, watching theincreasingly intense battles and explosions as if they were in a movietheatre. Turkey won’t even permit Kurds on the Turkish side ofthe border to cross over into Kobani to join the fight againstISIS.

Turkey is playing a very hard line. The U.S. and NATO really wantTurkey to save Kobani, and are pouring on the pressure. But Turkeywill not do so unless an objective of the war is that America’swarplanes also start striking targets belonging to Syria’s presidentBashar al-Assad. The U.S. and Nato do not want to get into a war withal-Assad, and say that ISIS is the most important threat.

With regard to ISIS versus the Kurds, Turkey’s conundrum is that itwants both sides to lose. There a millions of innocent Kurds inKobani, but it’s also the home of fighters from the separatistKurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with whom the Turks fought a 30-yearcivil war. A few days ago, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogansaid, “What ISIS is to us, the PKK is the same,” a remark thatinfuriated the Kurds still further. In fact, many Kurdssay that Turkey is on the side of ISIS and is funding andsupporting it, because Turkey wants the Kurds exterminated.

The fall of Kobani appears to be close. American air strikes areslowing ISIS down, but they will not prevent an ISIS victory. An ISISvictory would mean many things to the Kurds — hundreds of thousandsmore deaths, hundreds of thousands more refugees pouring into Turkey,and the loss of a city that many Kurds consider to be their capital.It will seen as a major American failure of the airstrike strategy.And it may trigger a revival of the civil war between the Turks andKurds in Turkey. Today’s Zaman (Istanbul) and AP and Guardian (London)

Why do so many Chinese expect war?

I like to read and sometimes refer to the articles by the LowyInstitute for International Policy because it’s in Australia, wherethey have a much more focused understanding of the issues in southeastAsia. They’ve done several articles on the threat from China and thequestion of Australia’s role in a possible war between the U.S. andChina.

According to one article, referring to a Beijing professor ofclassical music:

“His students don’t seem like fenqing (‘angryyouth’). They are in a musical conservatory, after all, not amilitary academy. Many have overseas connections. But they arealso ambitious, emotional, fiercely nationalist and for them war -any war – would be a gratifying affirmation of their country’sascendance. Like the 2008 Olympic Games but with real explosions,not fireworks. These kids lap up PLA propaganda films like SilentContest even as they dream of Juilliard. My professor friendworries they just haven’t thought things through, that theirvarious aspirations are totally misaligned.”

This emotional, fierce nationalism in China is something I’ve beenwriting about for years. Fierce nationalism is most common incountries in generational Crisis eras, and so we see increasednationalism in America and in European countries. The survivors ofWorld War II were all too aware of the dangers of fierce nationalism,and the many roles it played, including the rise of the Nazis, inbringing about the worst of the war. So now those survivors are gone,and fierce nationalism is the cool thing today, especially in China.

According to Lowy, they want wealth, power and respect for theircountry. It’s relevant to Thucydides’ explanation of the epochalPeloponnesian War: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that thisinspired in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Historical analysisindicates that there’s a 75% chance of war as China replaces Americain the global pecking order.

Lowy finds the “strange revival of nationalism” to be a paradox of ourage. War worship should totally contradict materialist aspirations,yet the two often go together. Perhaps some new citizens want thegoodies of Western life without the full package of liberal rights andresponsibilities.

As I’ve been saying for ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts thatthe Clash of Civilizations war is coming with 100% certainty, with thetwo sides led by China and America. Lowy says, with understatement,costly war of exhaustion for all concerned.” Actually, it would be afull-scale generational crisis war. Every nuclear weapon and missilewill be used before it’s over. Once the missiles run out, there willbe huge armies fighting all over the world, fighting not only eachother, but also famine, Ebola, Swine Flu, and Bird Flu. As much ashalf the world’s population could be wiped out, leaving the other halfto rebuild the world again. Lowy Institute and Lowy Institute (Feb 2014)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Syria, Kurds, Kobani,Tayyip Erdogan, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,China, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Australia,Thucydides, Athens, Sparta
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