The best commentary on the Clinton affair predictably came from abroad. Writing in the Daily Telegraph (London) on February 10, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard lamented the fact that the Republicans were too timid, or too enmeshed in Clintonian intrigue themselves, to pursue the real charges against Clinton. The counts concerning Lewinsky were bound to be misconstrued as “lying about sex” and to serve as a perverse vindication for the President:
But there is so much else. Congress did not have to confine the impeachment to the findings of Kenneth Starr. . . . By doing so, it became a prisoner of Mr. Starr’s own subtle agenda. . . . Mr. Starr is most assuredly not an “independent” counsel. He is a creature of the Justice Department, where he once served as chief-of-staff. His team . . . has been dominated by fellow insiders and he has relied slavishly on the FBI to do the donkey work. But it is precisely the politicisation of the Justice Department and the FBI that forms the core scandal pervading the abuses of this administration.
Evans-Pritchard went on to lament Starr’s reluctance to confront the FBI, his focus on “harmless follies that could be prosecuted without collateral damage,” and his turning a blind eye to the warning of an FBI cover-up in the investigation of Vincent Foster’s death. In addition, “negligently—or worse,” he failed to take testimony from key witnesses in the “Filegate” affair, and the story—including Hillary Clinton’s key role—is emerging instead from a civil lawsuit:
[T]he Republicans have always been skittish about exposing the dirtiest of Mr. Clinton’s dirty linen, lest their own (lesser) indiscretions come to light. [That’s why] they backed away from probing whether Mr. Clinton knowingly solicited laundered campaign funds from Chinese military intelligence in exchange for restricted missile technology . . . [and] why they have been so wary of discussing Mr. Clinton’s astounding ties to Arkansas’s 1980s cocaine king, Dan Lasater. . . . Arkansas played a role in the Reagan administration’s clandestine supply flights to the Nicaraguan Contras . . . A forbidden subject. Mr. Clinton gets another free pass. Impeachment is thus reduced to two measly counts on Monica Lewinsky, and the Republicans . . . put on a show trial with a scripted outcome of acquittal, calibrated to wound but not to kill. . . . So the man caught red-handed in perjury, obstruction of justice and ungallantly smearing his lover as a demented stalker is hailed as the winner. The world knows that he is guilty, but he is the one enjoying a victory cigar.
Someone definitely not lighting any cigars—but possibly having them extinguished against his skin—is Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan. While his Kosovo-Albanian equivalents basked in media limelight, American political support, and French gastronomy at Rambouillet, Ocalan was grabbed in Nairobi and flown to a Turkish jail. The Toronto Sun (February 21) explains the mystery:
Ocalan was clearly tracked and shadowed by U.S. intelligence and, very likely, Israeli intelligence. Both services have important posts in Nairobi, and work closely to monitor East Africa. Israel, Turkey’s new strategic ally, provides Ankara with substantial anti-guerilla training, equipment and interrogation techniques. The U.S. supplies Turkey’s 525,000-man army with weapons, including armor and helicopters used to fight PKK guerrillas in eastern Anatolia.
A wave of protests by Kurds throughout Europe ensued, many targeted against Israeli diplomatic posts. In the aftermath of the killing of three Kurdish protestors by Israeli consulate guards in Germany, Israel’s government dissociated itself from Ocalan’s capture. According to the Jerusalem Post (February 19),
“all efforts” are being made to spread the word that Israel had “no connection whatsoever with the Ocalan affair.” . . . Mossad chief Efraim Halevy . . . sent out a memo . . . denying the Mossad had any connection with Ocalan’s capture.
While Israel protested its innocence, the official U.S. position remained unabashedly supportive of Turkey. This is not surprising: The Ocalan issue coincided with an escalation in the ongoing American bombing of Iraqi targets. As the Independent‘s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk reported (February 21), more than 70 American and British air raids in the first two months of 1999 inflicted more damage than the pre-Christmas bombardment:
Iraqi missile sites have been attacked without warning and radar stations targeted solely because their presence . . . was said to menace American forces in the Gulf. US aircraft bombed a[n] . . . anti-ship missile battery on the Fao peninsula which, according to a spokesman, “could have [sic] threatened shipping in the Gulf.” . . . By attacking Iraq almost every day while issuing only routine information about the targets, U.S. and British officials have also ensured that their “salmi” bombardment has provoked little or no interest in the press . . . On February 11, General Sir Michael Rose, a former UN force commander in Bosnia, condemned the offensive in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute: “The continual TV images of the West’s high-technology systems causing death and destruction to people in the Third World will not be tolerated forever by civilised people.”
Turkey’s help—and the use of its air base at Incirlik, in eastern Anatolia—proved far more important to Washington than the Kurds’ struggle. Ocalan’s capture was preceded by a statement from State Department spokesman James Rubin on February 1: “[C]ountries should take steps consistent with their national legal system to assist Turkey’s efforts to bring Ocalan to justice.”
Anyone unfortunate enough to have a first-hand experience of Turkish “justice” may beg to differ, as the Independent reports (February 19):
Kurds are being systematically subjected to electric shock treatments and other sophisticated tortures by the Turkish government. . . . Men and women are being suspended naked from the ceiling, hosed with cold water, and beaten on the soles of their feet, [a] two-year study reveals. The shocking findings, by the British-based Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, . . . [are] based on a study of 78 patients who were examined at the Foundation’s London headquarters between January 1997 and March 1998. . . . A source at the Foundation said: ” . . . Those carrying out the practices were clearly aware of how far they could go and when they should stop for fear of causing death.” Of the 70 male and eight female patients . . . only 15 were charged with an offence and only three convicted.
While deploying scorched-earth tactics against Kurdish villagers suspected of supporting separatists, the Turks have no quahns about supporting Albanian armed separatists in Kosovo. Kanal-7 TV in Istanbul carried an interview (February 1) with Suayip Muya, who represents the Kosovo Liberation Army in Turkey. Asked what he expected from Turkey, Muya replied: “Based on . . . political, cultural, religious and other ties, the [KLA] considers Turkey to be the prime source of support and expects everything from Turkey and we thank you for the aid extended by the Turkish people.”
Simon Jenkins, in the Times (February 19), advised Messrs. Clinton and Blair:
BOMB Turkey now. Let’s not wait. Flatten Ankara, Tomahawk the Bosphorus, take out Izmir. If we can bomb Serbia for the Kosovans and bomb . . . Saddam Hussein for the Iraqi Kurds, we can surely bomb Turkey for their mountain brothers. Why wait until “more people die” or until “Robin Cook’s patience is exhausted”? New Labour bombs sooner. It bombs for peace. Thatcher bombed but Blair bombs bigger. What hypocrites we are. We showed not the slightest interest in Kosovo until a violent faction of the Kosovan separatist movement began killing people. Then suddenly Kosovan autonomy i s an “issue of international security and human rights.” Likewise with the Kurds. Only when a violent minority takes its violence to the ambassadorial ghettos of Western Europe is every newspaper alert to the cause, every radio sounding the grievance, every talk show fawning for a spokesman.
Jenkins argues that the PKK (the Kurdish separatist movement) is ideally placed for intervention:
What could be more glorious than for Tony Blair to take on the last unfinished business of 20th century statecraft and grant the PKK its wish? The Turkish suppression of the PKK and that movement’s bloody retaliation scream out for a Lancaster House conference. Turkey may be a sovereign state, but then so are Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Bombing is not always all fun and no risk, reports the Independent (February 5). The United States may be forced to acknowledge that it mistakenly attacked a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan with cruise missiles last year.
The owner of the plant, Saleh Idris, has asked the US to apologise, to unfreeze his assets and to conpensate him for damage to the factory. . . . “We’d like to settle this peacefully,” said John Scanlon, who represents Mr. Idris in New York. But a legal action was under preparation . . . Mr. Idris . . . has also retained Kroll Associates, the world’s leading firm of private investigators, to examine the evidence. Mr. Scanlon said it proves that there was no chemical weapons plant in the factory, that it had never belonged to Mr. bin Laden and that there were no links between Mr. Idris and Mr. bin Laden or the Iraqi government. . . . One US government source told The Independent that it was a case of “right country, wrong building.”
While the eventual U.S. apology may be accompanied by a hefty check, signed by the American taxpayer, Ted Turner’s meal of humble pie in February at least did not cost him any money.
Turner had to apologize first to the Pope and then to the people of Poland for telling a “joke” at a pro-abortionists’ rally in New York that was insulting to the Pontiff and offensive to all other Poles. That, in itself, is unremarkable: Christians and Europeans are fair game in Turner’s scheme of things. What is remarkable is the closing paragraph of a Reuters report (February 20) on Turner’s remarks:
A Turner spokesman said Friday that he likely would wait to consult the State Department before apologizing, but a spokeswoman said Saturday he decided to apologize sooner to quickly bring an end to the matter.
How bold of Ted! His daring act of apology, without clearance from Madeleine Albright, shows the injustice of our suspicions that Turner’s CNN, unfairly known in some foreign lands as “Clinton’s News Network,” was in cahoots with the powers-that-be in Washington. A man who can act so independently in personal matters can surely be trusted to give us an unbiased and comprehensive story on Iraq, Kosovo, the Kurds, or Juanita Broaddrick. God bless him and our independent media!
Leave a Reply