Wednesday, January 28, 2004

At yesterday's UNAU meeting, Hakan Yavuz made an extremely salient point. America's foreign policy is largely run by ethnic group centric lobby groups. This type of set up creates a situation where US foreign policy often takes rather nasty racial tones.

The US forbids foreign lobbies. However, ethnic groups within the US can have a lobby group. This ends up creating a situation where we have a very powerful organizations pushing for racially centered policy. The result is that we are more apt to see the ethnic differences in Iraq (Kurds, Shiites and Sunni) rather than the political situation of a country that has several different political division already existing.

Turkey is adamently opposed to independence for the Kurds. Turkey has a horrible record of mistreating Greeks, Kurds and Armenians (The Turks slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians in 1915...they killed 70% of their Armenian population...Hitler killed only 38% of his Jewish population.)

Turkey is worried that having an independent Kurdistan might re-ignite long seated racial resentment. Personally, I think the opposite might be true. Allowing a Kurdish state might allow the region to get around its racial hatreds. With Turkey joining the EU and the the Kurds getting an independent government, an ethic group with a long history of being oppressed might finally be in a position to feel safe on all fronts.

It is a difficult game. Sometimes splitting a country by racial groups leads to Balkanization and more hate, other times it reduces the tension. There is not a clear cut answer to the Iraq problem.

Regardless, Hakan Yavuz point about US foreign policy being run by ethnic lobbies is very important, as it probably makes the US administration give greater credence to ethnic considerations than they otherwise would.

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