November 5, 2001
The Turkey Card
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Reached by cell phone in purgatory, where he is expiating his sin of imposing wage and price controls, Richard Nixon agreed to an interview with his former speechwriter.
Q: How do you think the war in Afghanistan is going?
Nixon: You call that a war? Light bombing of a bunch of crazies with beards, based on a policy of Afghanization before you even get started? That's strictly reactive and purely tactical.
Q: Would you send in a couple of divisions of American ground troops?
Nixon: No. The Bush people are employing the right tactics in their "phase I" Ö suppressing terrorist operations, helping the opposition make trouble, playing for breaks with payoffs and assassinations. What they fail to see is the global picture. They need to develop a grand strategy.
Q: Which is Ö
Nixon: Know your real enemy. It's not just bin Laden and his terrorist cells. It's the movement threatening to take over the Islamic world. Those beards and their even more dangerous state sponsors want the Saudi and Kuwaiti oil. That would give them the money to build or buy the nuclear and germ weapons to eliminate the reasonable Muslims and all the Christian and Jewish infidels.
Q: How would you stop them?
Nixon: Split 'em, the way we split the Communist monolith by playing the China card against the Soviets. Your generation's card is Turkey, the secular Muslim nation with the strongest army.
Q: The Turks have already volunteered a hundred commandos Ö you mean we should ask for more?
Nixon: Get out of that celebrity- terrorist Afghan mindset. With the world dazed and everything in flux, seize the moment. I'd make a deal with Ankara right now to move across Turkey's border and annex the northern third of Iraq. Most of it is in Kurdish hands already, in our no-flight zone Ö but the land to make part of Turkey is the oil field around Kirkuk that produces nearly half of Saddam Hussein's oil.
Q: Doesn't that mean war?
Nixon: Quick war, justified by Saddam's threat of germs and nukes and terrorist connections. We'd provide air cover and U.N. Security Council support in return for the Turks' setting up a friendly government in Baghdad. The freed Iraqis would start pumping their southern oil like mad and help us bust up OPEC for good.
Q: What's in it for the Turks?
Nixon: First, big money Ö northern Iraq could be good for nearly two million barrels a day, and the European Union would fall all over itself welcoming in the Turks. Next, Turkey would solve its internal Kurd problem by making its slice of Iraq an autonomous region called Kurdistan.
Q: But that would mean new borders, and don't Arab states worry about dismemberment?
Nixon: Turks are Muslims but not Arabs. When Syria was the base for terrorist operations against Turkey, the Turks massed troops on the border and Damascus caved, kicking the terrorist boss out of the country and he's now in a Turkish jail. And what's the big deal about new borders? Iraq was a 20th-century British concoction. Only 50 years ago, Israel became a state, and soon there'll be a Palestinian state. New times, new borders.
Q: Speaking of Israel Ö
Nixon: Let me say this about that. I'd tell Sharon to annex the Jordan valley, to protect Jordan, but then to hand over the rest of the West Bank or he's down the tubes. I know you disagree, Bill, but we're going for the grand strategic enchilada. Then I'd tell the Saudis and other rich Arabs to build good housing and plants in Palestine or accept a million Palestinian immigrants. With Iraq's threat neutralized and Iran coming around, the sheiks will ante up in a hurry.
Q: But what about punishing bin Laden in Afghanistan Ö
Nixon: Change the flow of money and power in the Middle East and bin Laden and his boys will fall into our hands like rotten fruit. Just use this crisis to reshuffle the deck and break out of the trap. Leapfrog "phase I" and there'll be no heavy allied casualties, no parades to stop the bombing, no Taliban, no germ scares. I have to go expiate now. Call me soon about Russia. How do you turn this damn new phone off?Copyright: The New York Times
Fair Use: This use of this copyrighted material has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of public issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.