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09-04-02 Letter To President George W. Bush

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    September 4, 2002

The Honorable George W. Bush
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20500

Re: Remarks of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on Turkey

Dear Mr. President:

The recent remarks of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz regarding Turkey contain false and misleading statements with serious errors of fact and omission of Orwellian proportions.  His remarks were made during a CNN interview in Istanbul on Sunday, July 14, 2002, during a speech the same day in Istanbul and in an earlier speech in Washington D.C. on March 13, 2002.  His remarks raise serious questions about U.S. policy towards Turkey.

Mr. President, if U.S. policy towards Turkey is based on the contents of Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s remarks (and it appears that it is), then you have been misled by him and other Defense Department officials and a critical review of such policy is urgently needed in the interests of the U.S.  This letter will examine and refute the contents of Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s remarks.

CNN Turkey Interview July 14, 2002

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz stated:

“I think a real test of whether a country is a democracy is how it treats its minorities.  And actually it’s one of the things that impress (sic) me about Turkish history—the way Turkey treats its own minorities.”

How does one respond to such a statement?  Armenian, Greek and Kurdish Americans have expressed their outrage.  Exhibit 1 to this letter contains a list of Turkey’s violations of the human rights of its minorities committed throughout the 20th century, a number of which continue up to the present time.

Remarks by Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Conrad Hotel, Istanbul, July 14, 2002

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz referred to Turkey:

“as a staunch NATO ally through forty years of Cold War….It is the great good fortune of the United States, of NATO, the West, indeed the world, that occupying this most important crossroads we have one of our strongest, most reliable and most self-reliant allies.” (Emphasis added.)

This is another false and misleading statement by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz with serious errors of fact and omission.  The record shows that during the Cold War, Turkey brushed aside U.S. interests on many occasions and deliberately gave substantial assistance to the Soviet military.  Exhibit 2 sets forth examples of Turkey's unreliability as an ally and refutes the assertion of Turkey as a self-reliant ally.

Ataturk

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s effusive comments regarding Ataturk may play well in Turkey, but the rest of the world is familiar with Ataturk as a dictator and mass killer of Armenians, Greeks and Kurds.  John Gunther in his book, Inside Europe refers in his opening sentence to Ataturk as “The blond, blue-eyed combination of patriot and psychopath who is dictator of Turkey.” (1938 edition p. 378.)  Ataturk ranks with Hitler and Stalin as a brutal dictator.

Exhibit 3 sets forth the details of Ataturk's mass killings of Armenians, Greeks and Kurds. Ataturk and Turkey are hardly the models, as suggested by Wolfowitz, for Afghanistan and other Muslim nations to follow to achieve democracy.

Turkey and the U.S. War on International Terrorism

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz stated:

“When the ‘illness’ of international terrorism struck the United States last September, Turkey quickly offered unconditional support...”

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz conveniently omits the fact that Turkey is an international terrorist state by virtue of its aggression against Cyprus in 1974, and a national terrorist state by its state-directed actions of ethnic cleansing, crimes agains humanity and genocide against its 20 percent Kurdish minority. The double standard on the rule of law and international and national terrorism that the U.S. applies to Turkey damages the U.S.’s war on international terrorism and makes a mockery of our moral and legal positions in the war on international terrorism.  The few hundred Turkish peacekeeping troops recently sent to Afghanistan do not hide the double standard applied to Turkey.  We urge you to reconsider and change our present policy towards Turkey which is harmful to U.S. national interests. Exhibit 4 discusses Turkey as an international and national terrorist state.

Turkey and Democracy

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s referred several times to Turkey’s democracy. The fact is that Turkey is a military-controlled government, in which the military, by virtue of the constitution it prepared, has full control of foreign affairs and national security and decisive influence over domestic affairs.  There is an absence in Turkey of minority rights, human rights, press freedom, speech freedom and religious freedom.  Falsehoods and myths regarding Turkey’s democracy have been propagated for years by Defense and State Department officials.

Remarks by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s remarks on March 13, 2002 contain many of the points in his Istanbul speech and CNN Turkey interview on July 14, 2002.  We will discuss his comments regarding the Persian Gulf War, and Turkey and the Jews.

Persian Gulf War

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz made several false and misleading comments with errors of fact and omission regarding Turkey and the Persian Gulf War. Exhibit 5 discusses Turkey's questionable role in the Persian Gulf War.  Throughout the post-Persian Gulf War period, Turkey has been a leading advocate of lifting the sanctions on Saddam Hussein.

Turkey and the Jews

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz refers to the efforts of Necdet Kent, Turkish consul posted in Marseilles, France, who showed “courage and tolerance” and saved 80 Turkish Jews who had been loaded by the Gestapo in cattle cars for transport to Germany.  Consul Kent challenged the Gestapo and got into the cattle car himself.  At the next stop, German officers got on the train and said a mistake had been made.  Consul Kent and the 80 Turkish Jews got off the train.  It is an inspiring story.

What Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz omits to mention is that the Turkish Jews and the other Turkish minorities were second class citizens in Turkey and were discriminated against regularly.  A prime example is the 1942 tax law on the property of non-Muslims, the Varlik Tax, which severely damaged the Greek, Armenian and Jewish communities.

He also significantly omits to mention that Turkey broke its treaty with Britain and France to enter World War II, remained neutral, and profited from both sides.  In fact, Turkey favored Nazi Germany and supplied Hitler with chromium, a vital resource to Nazi Germany’s armaments industry and war effort.  (See F. Weber, The Evasive Neutral, pg. 44, 1979). Hitler’s armament chief, Albert Speer, provided Hitler a memorandum in November 1943 on “Alloys and Armaments Production and the Importance of Chromium Imports from the Balkans and Turkey,” which stated that the loss of chromium supplies from Turkey would end the war in about 10 months. (See A. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, pp. 316-17, 405, 550 note 10, 1970.)

Every soldier and civilian killed or wounded, and every concentration camp person killed in the last seven months of World War II, lies at the doorstep of Turkey.

Turkey  – A Staunch NATO and U.S. Ally?

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz referred to Turkey “as a staunch NATO ally through forty years of Cold War.” As discussed above, this is a false and misleading statement.  What is additionally disturbing is Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s failure to recognize that Turkey violated the NATO Treaty by its invasion of Cyprus and that the violation continues to this day. Exhibit 6 discusses Turkey's violation of the North Atlantic Treaty.

July 20, 2002 marked the 28th anniversary of Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus and 28 years of illegal occupation

It is now abundantly clear that the State Department, under the direction of Secretary Henry Kissinger, encouraged the coup against President Makarios on July 15, 1974 by the Greek dictator, Brigadier General Dimitris Ioannidis, and encouraged the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey on July 20, 1974.  Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz omits to mention the U.S. role and continues the cover-up policy of the State and Defense Departments. Exhibit 7 discusses the Cyprus problem.

Kurds

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s comments regarding the Kurds is blatant appeasement of the Turks and harmful to U.S. national interests.  A critical review of U.S. policy towards the Kurds is long overdue.  We must not continue to ignore 20 million Kurds in Turkey, 5 million in Iraq and 8 million in Iran.  We urge you to review two recent articles, “Protect the Kurds,” by former Ambassador Peter Galbraith, a professor at the National War College (Washington Post, August 11, 2002, Outlook Section, B7), and a New York Times article by John F. Burns, “Kurds Must Endure Iraq’s ‘Nationality Correction’” (August 11, 2002, p. 4).

Defense Department Officials' Conflict of Interest

There are two high-ranking Defense Department officials with an apparent conflict of interest regarding U.S. relations with Turkey. Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, is a former registered foreign agent for Turkey from 1989 to 1994.  Mr. Feith was a principal for International Advisors Inc. (IAI).  As such, he received $60,000 annually and his law firm Feith and Zell received many hundreds of thousands of dollars from IAI.  He was previously a special assistant to Richard Perle at the Defense Department.

Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, is the non-paid chairman of the Defense Policy Board.  Mr. Perle resigned from the Reagan Administration in 1987, before the end of the Cold War, and went to Turkey and negotiated an $800,000 contract for International Advisors Inc., a company which he initiated and for which he recruited six former Executive Branch staff officials.  He became a consultant to IAI and received $48,000 annually from 1989 to 1994.  IAI, Turkey’s foreign agent registered with the Justice Department received $800,000 from Turkey in 1989, and then received $600,000 annually from 1990 to 1994.

We believe these facts amount to a conflict of interest regarding any matters dealing with U.S.-Turkey relations which would require Mr. Feith and Mr. Perle to recuse themselves, at a minimum, from any such matters.  Consideration should be given to their removal. What role did Under Secretary Feith and Mr. Perle play in the recommendation to revive grant military or economic aid to the Turkish military-controlled government?

We are sending a copy of this letter to the Inspector General and General Counsel of the Defense Department for their consideration.  Any inquiry should focus on what role Mr. Feith and Mr. Perle have played in any matters dealing with Turkey.  We urge you to seek a report from the Defense Department on this conflict of interest matter.

The Turkish military’s vast business holdings and cash fund of tens of billions of dollars

The Turkish military owns vast business enterprises and has tens of billions of dollars in cash in a “reserve” fund as referred to in Ambassador Rouleau’s article. Despite its huge economic resources, the Turkish military continues to seek handouts from the U.S. Treasury and the IMF and World Bank.  Turkey owes the U.S. five billion dollars yet refuses to use its tens of billions of dollars in cash to pay down its debt to the U.S.  We urge you to insist on the immediate repayment of that debt.

We do not know the value of the military’s business assets, but would venture to guess it exceeds one hundred billion dollars.  One of the economic reforms the IMF and the U.S. should require is the divestiture by the Turkish military of its vast business holdings and the use of the proceeds to pay its debts. The Turkish military's ownership of business assets contradicts the U.S. policy of stressing the importance of a market economy.

We oppose the Administration’s request for $228 million in military/economic grant aid as irresponsible.

We strongly oppose the Administration’s request, initiated by the Defense Department, for $228 million military/economic grant aid to Turkey as irresponsible. There is absolutely no need for $228 million in grant military/economic aid to Turkey which has a bloated military establishment and whose military owns vast business enterprises and has “tens of billions of dollars” cash in a reserve fund.  Further, we have our own serious budget problems and it is not reasonable for the Defense Department to be initiating grant military/economic aid to Turkey.  Congress ended economic grant aid to Turkey in the mid-1990s and phased out military grant aid to Turkey and Greece in the late 90’s.  It should have done so much earlier, at least by the end of the Cold War.  Exhibit 8 discusses the Administration’s $228 million grant aid request for Turkey.

Conclusion

The false and misleading statements made by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz on Turkey referred to in this letter (there are others not discussed herein) raise serious questions as to his credibility and the factual basis of his advice to Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and to you on other issues as well, such as Iraq.

The U.S. double standard policy toward Turkey on the rule of law and the appeasement of Turkey these past decades, pursued by a handful of Defense and State Department officials and Turkey’s paid foreign agents, have seriously damaged U.S. national interests.

Mr. President, you said “enough is enough” regarding the violence in the Middle East.  We urge you, in the interests of the U.S., to tell your advisors that “enough is enough” regarding Turkey’s aggression in Cyprus, denial of the Armenian Genocide, its genocide against the Kurds, blockade of humanitarian aid to Armenia, national torture policy, thousands of political prisoners, jailing of journalists, the lack of religious freedom and the Turkish military’s control of national security and foreign policy and decisive influence on domestic policy.

Respectfully,

Aram Hamparian
Executive Director
Armenian National Committee

James F. Dimitriou
Supreme President
Order of AHEPA

Theodora S. Hancock
President and Co-Founder
Hellenic American Women's Council

Ted Spyropoulos
President
Hellenic American National Committee

Kani Xulam
Director
American Kurdish Information Network

Gene Rossides
General Counsel
American Hellenic Institute

Enclosure

cc:

Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Secretary of the Treasury Paul H. O’Neil
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Lee Armitage
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz, Department of Defense
General Counsel William J. Haynes, Esq., Department of Defense
The Congress