West’s reaction to Turkish invasion – an exercise in hypocrisy

Dmitry Babich
Dmitry Babich was born in Moscow, in 1970. He has worked for various media outlets for 25 years, including The Moscow News and RIA Novosti news agency. He is currently working as a political analyst at Sputnik International, and is a frequent guest on BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN commenting on international affairs and history.
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Just days ago, the mainstream Western press was so concerned about the “possible breach of Turkish airspace” for a few seconds by a Russian airplane, that it was ready to justify not only the downing of the jet, but even the murder of one of the pilots.

London’s The Daily Telegraph wrote: “Should Turkey produce evidence to show that the Su-24 was in its airspace then NATO must send the strongest message possible to Russia that such infractions will not be tolerated. If Moscow was seeking to test the resolve of NATO countries to defend their borders then President Putin has had his answer.” Please note: “the strongest message possible” is not to Turkey, which downed the plane, but to Russia, which lost two servicemen and the plane.

A few days passed, and all of NATO, including the US and the UK, is ready to condone a much bigger infraction by Turkey on the territory of the neighboring state of Iraq. A whole Turkish battalion, with tanks and ammunition, enters Iraq’s Mosul province and refuses to leave it, despite the protests of the Iraqi government.

It is noteworthy that modern Iraq is the product of the British-American “nation building” since the times of its occupation in 2003. In these circumstances, one would expect the US and the UK to protect their client state’s territorial integrity and side with its government, in whose formation Washington and London played not too small a role, at least by removing the two previous rulers (remember Saddam Hussein and Nouri al-Maliki by any chance?)

But, in the Turkish case, “the strongest message possible” is somewhat slow to come from the US and the UK. Instead, the State Department’s spokesman John Kirby urges the intruder and the occupied to “work together,” settling the issue on a bilateral basis. Turkey explained its intrusion by purely educational motives, saying that its soldiers came to Iraq on tanks to train the local Kurdish militia. Later this militia is expected by Turks to take on the so called Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Strangely, just a few months ago Turkey only grudgingly allowed the Kurdish fighters to pass through its territory in order to fight that same IS in Kobani, Syria.

The heavily armed Turkish professors regretted the somewhat concerned reaction of their involuntary students in Baghdad, but indicated that they were there to stay and “train” for as long as they need.  According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily, the Turkish foreign ministry’s spokesman could only promise to Baghdad “the highest level of coordination” in future (apparently, next time Ankara will make at least a phone call to Baghdad before starting another teaching course).

This situation would have been a laughing matter, if it did not reveal an increasingly dangerous general trend in the foreign policy of Western countries. More and more often, Washington, London and Brussels act not just in disregard, but in direct opposition to the values that they themselves proclaim. Where was the principle of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, when the Turkish tanks rolled into Iraq – just 12 years after the British-American invasion, which was declared a “mistake” by both Obama and Cameron? Where are the principles of protection of property, when the IMF bends its rules in order to allow Ukraine not to return to Russia the $3 billion loan given to Kiev just two years ago? (And the IMF adopts that decision days before Ukraine was due to service its debt?) Where was the principle of not declaring a person guilty without trial, when several Russian citizens involved in the Magnitsky case were declared guilty of murdering Sergey Magnitsky without any court proceedings - in the West or in Russia? How could these persons’ property rights and the right to travel be denied to them without a court decision by both the US and the EU? It goes without saying that the universal respect for America and Europe for many decades in the past was based upon their respect for these very rights and values – property, territorial integrity, presumption of innocence – which are in fact being denied by Washington’s, London’s and Brussels’ actions?

With the background of this, the hypocrisy of Erdogan is still shining. To deny George W. Bush access to Turkish territory during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – only to invade Iraq on your own in 2015, that stands for something. Both in terms of hypocrisy and in terms of stupidity.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.