Out of the shadows

The other day in Troublemakers in the Shadows we discussed the notion that the anti-war Democrats in Congress were making a sneak attack on US troops and Iraq policy, cloaking a resolution to damage relations with Turkey in the disguise of a humanitarian declaration. The profile of that sneak attack — to conceal an evil within an apparent good — is cynical, sleazy, gutless, and, in its way, apt — a metaphor that reveals just how appalling is this gang of politicians in their desire to harm the armed forces while pretending to be all sweetness and light.

Well, the gesture might have been an attempt at concealment, but it apparently wasn’t effective. The troublemakers are out of the shadows now. Thomas Sowell, the fellows at Powerline, and many others are on to their act. Jed Babbin described the military logistics that the anti-war cadre is trying to screw up:

Pelosi’s Most Dangerous Ploy — Congressional Democrats anxious to force a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq are frustrated by their inability to muster a veto-proof majority for legislation that would establish a firm date for retreat. But what they cannot do directly they are now working hard to do indirectly.

According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey is the transshipment point for about 70% of all air cargo (including 33% of the fuel) going to supply US forces in Iraq. Included are about 95% of the new “MRAP” — mine-resistant, ambush-protected — vehicles designed to save the lives of American troops. Turkey wasn’t always this helpful. In 2003, the Turks refused permission for the 4th Infantry Division to enter Iraq through Turkey.

Turkey’s Erdogan government has indicated that if the House of Representatives takes action on a non-binding resolution being pushed by Speaker Pelosi, Turkey might revoke our ability to use Incirlik as a waypoint for Iraq supplies.

Stratfor elaborates on the logistical difficulties that these patriotic Americans in Congress may create if they succeed in limiting the passage of supplies through Turkey and the use of Incirlik Air Base:

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Of all the U.S. air cargo bound for U.S. forces in Iraq, 70 percent passes through Turkey, as does 33 percent of the fuel. Incirlik Air Base, long a major U.S. foothold in the region, is a major hub for KC-135 Extender refueling operations, as it is well-positioned for topping off the C-17 and C-5 cargo flights that haul most of the air freight to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although air cargo traffic can be rerouted (at a price), and Baghdad is within reach of a C-130 fully fueled at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, the U.S. military relies heavily on Ankara’s good graces for the transfer of fuel — both in the air and on the ground — in order to conduct its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey also is the only friendly airspace through which the United States can easily move north to Europe, and it is the fastest route for medical evacuation flights from Baghdad to military hospitals in Germany.

As is evident from the chart, Incirlik Air Base occupies an important position as a logistics waypoint for US operations in Iraq and elsewhere in that part of the world. It would be totally irresponsible, worse than that really, for Congress to take any action which threatens the use of Incirlik Air Base at this time. But that’s not the only problem that Congress could create.

It is certainly possible that a greater northern theater of conflict could be born of the current “Turkish incursions into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels” if Turkey decides it no longer cares about American protests of them in the wake of a Congressional resolution. Congress is toying with issues that “strike at the core of Turkish geopolitics,” according to Stratfor. In his Sabotage in Wartime column, Thomas Sowell noted the scope of that potentially large problem: “There are more Turkish troops on the border of Iraq than there are American troops within Iraq.”

It would appear hard to overstate just how much harm could be caused if the congressional sneak attack were to succeed. But at least the troublemakers are out of the shadows now.

2 Responses to “Out of the shadows”

  1. A Says:

    As a democrat I am appauled that the Speaker is doing so much to damage the troops in Iraq. Her actions during a time of war are to me just short of treason by adding the enemy: islamist factions who daily target our troops and Iraq civilians with IEDs.

  2. MG Says:

    I have a solution to the problem – ask Armenia to allow the U.S. to build a base in their country or expand/upgrade on a currently existing one. I am quite sure they will welcome/entertain the idea since Armenians have been waiting for world recognition of the genocide committed against them by the Turks for decades and if the U.S. can be swayed by Turkey’s childish response, then so be it.

    In all fairness, I have to disclose that I am American-Armenian, but I also believe that the truth is the truth and facts are facts – undeniable and unchangeable.

    It will be a shame for the U.S. to bend under the pressure.

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