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More Dogs on Main Street

by Tom Clyde, Record columnist

Things are getting complicated on the foreign front. For some reason, the Democrats in Congress felt like it was the right time to denounce Turkey for a 1915 event in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed. Congress labeled it genocide. It probably was, and even if not genocide, it was a very bad thing. It’s so bad that in Turkey it is a crime to even mention it, which pretty well confirms that it actually happened despite official denials. Congress decided that all these years later they needed to take decisive action against the defunct Ottoman Empire and adopt a non-binding resolution on the matter. That’s the best they can do a non-binding resolution condemning the actions of a government that no longer exists, that occurred 92 years ago. I tell you, these Congressional Democrats are a courageous bunch.

Turkey took great offense and recalled their ambassador. The Bush administration said, "Turkey had an ambassador here?"

If that didn’t complicate things enough, there are more Turkey problems. Turkey’s parliament has approved a new policy regarding the Kurdish boundary area. Apparently Kurdish separatists have been crossing from Iraq into Turkey, blowing things up, and then going back across the border into Iraq. Turkey calls them terrorists, which seems reasonable. Turkey has demanded that the Iraqi government do something to prevent that. The Iraqi government is imaginary, and so nothing happened. Now Turkey has adopted a policy that says they will follow the terrorists wherever they are, and will hold them and the governments that harbor them responsible.

That’s a policy that sounds vaguely familiar to the White House, but they still have said that Turkey can’t do that. Apparently only the U.S. gets to do that. Nobody cares about the Kurdish people. They just happen to be sitting on a pile of oil, and if there is an independent Kurdish nation, it is oil-rich, and Iraq and Turkey would lose that oil. So suddenly maintaining the border between Turkey and Iraq where it is, instead of creating a new Kurdistan right there, is very important to Turkey.

Oil has hit $89 a barrel as a result of the dispute. The Iraqi-Kurdish oil gets to market through a pipeline that crosses through Turkey. Turkey is threatening to close that down in retaliation for the cross-border raids. It’s very likely that Turkey will take military action inside Iraq. The Iraqi government (i.e., us) will have to defend the territory of Iraq. Otherwise, we might as well have invited Iran to move in too. There’s no way around it if Turkey invades Iraq, we are at war with Turkey.

Turkey is a member of NATO. So, of course, is the U.S. The U.S. has treaty obligations to the other NATO members requiring mutual defense. So if Turkey invades Iraq, and the U.S. defends Iraq against the Turkish invasion, NATO is supposed to come to the defense of Turkey in its war against the United States. In the end, it looks like there is no alternative other than the U.S. declaring war on itself, with U.S. troops fighting each other over the issue of an independent Kurdistan. Dick Cheney has got to love that one.

I’ll bet there isn’t any issue out there that Americans care about more than the status of Kurdistan. Not health care, not energy policy, not the economy and mortgage foreclosures. If you are going to go to war with yourself, you need to choose the issue carefully. This Kurdish issue is one that most Americans will really get behind. It sound messy, but rest easy, we have the Dream Team of Bush, Cheney and Rice on the case. Condi Rice is on the Norbest Turkey Hot Line trying to sort it out. The Air Force should be dropping nukes on the Marines Corps any day now.

In disaster news closer to home, we had a house burn to the ground in my neighborhood this week. I was driving home from Park City and, from the top of the pass between Kamas and Jordanelle, I could see a smoke plume in a location that didn’t seem right. I kept hoping it would turn out to be Victory Ranch or some other strip-mine development burning the last vegetation off its property. But it was clear that it was frighteningly close to home.

It was a summer cabin about a half-mile from my house. Fortunately nobody was home. A chimney fire or damaged flue seemed to be the cause. The owners had been there over the weekend, and the fire ignited Monday. Crews from the South Summit, Wasatch County and Park City fire departments responded. There was more equipment there than I knew existed. The location was pretty frightening, and if it had happened a month ago when it was hot and dry, we probably would have lost the whole mountainside. Picture steep Summit Park terrain without fire hydrants and a whole forest of beetle-killed pine trees waiting to ignite.

The crews were successful in containing it, which is really about all anybody can ask in a location like this. There are few permanent residents, and by the time a fire is big enough that it’s clear it isn’t just somebody’s wood stove, it’s already Game Over. the time the first firemen were on site, it would have been a pretty big fire. They nearly had it out once, but it flared up again while they were refilling the tanker down at the river at the bottom of the hill. The house is nothing but cinders, but the rest of the neighborhood is OK. Because it was a vacation home, nobody is homeless. Nobody got hurt, and it didn’t spread. The three fire departments appeared to be working together smoothly, and the response seemed a whole lot more capable than the last fire in the neighborhood several years ago. So a big thanks to all three fire departments involved, especially the volunteers who man the South Summit department and were the first on the scene.


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