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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Open The Time Capsule

William Safire, channeling Richard Nixon in an imaginary conversation back in November 2001:

9 November William Safire

Help Turkey Overrun Iraq

Richard Nixon was reached by cell phone in purgatory, where he is expiating his sin of imposing wage and price controls. He agreed to an interview with his former speech writer.

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 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" - 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 -

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 - you mean we should ask for more?

Nixon: Get out of that celebrity-terrorist mind-set. 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 - 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 UN 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 - northern Iraq could be good for nearly 2 million barrels a day, and the European Union would fall all over itself welcoming in the Turks. Next, Turkey would solve its 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....

Well, times change, as the summary of his latest column suggests.

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