Nick Kessler

Connecting the dots

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Monday, March 03, 2003
Why has it become difficult for this administration to get its war plans through Turkey's legislature? Today's New York Times gives one reason:

"Several Turkish legislators complained of what they described as the United States' overbearing and sometimes petty approach to the negotiations.

Turkish officials said American diplomats sought to avoid paying taxes on everything they bought in Turkey, from fuel to food. One dispute, which Turkish lawmakers said lasted more than a week, involved the question of who would pick up a roughly $30,000 tab for identification labels intended for American troops in Turkey."

These "diplomats" demonstrate some of the worst qualities of stereotypical conservative Republicans: allowing their violent hatred of taxes to overwhelm all other considerations, and generally ignoring the potential benefits of showing maturity and responsibility.

The irony here is that the Republican diplomats' own arrogance obviously interfered with their job, which was to encourage Turkish legislators to support the administration's plan. While the administration wants to show that it will not be reckless if it stages a military campaign through Turkey's territory, its representatives didn't bother to be reasonable. Further, the administration is specifically trying to lure Turkey's cooperation with promises of massive economic aid, but the diplomats went out of their way to be insultingly stingy with their money. Diplomacy always requires negotiating skill, tact and attention to appearance. These diplomats faced a particularly delicate task--promoting a war that the vast majority of Turkish people oppose. It's typical of this administration to hand the task to people who don't care that it's inappropriate to be selfish and rude, and who are incapable of recognizing situations where this behavior can get in the way of their duties.


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