Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Brutal honesty or Freudian slip?

On July 24, Turkish warplanes entered Iraqi airspace and attacked targets suspected to be affiliated with the Partiya KarkerĂȘn Kurdistan (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group. Two days later, Istanbul was hit by two bomb attacks that killed 17 people.

At the funeral for the Istanbul victims, Prime Minister Erdogan spoke thusly:
"Unfortunately, the cost of this (military action) is heavy. The incident last night was one such example."
I can't be sure if Erdogan's comments were well-thought of or if he received a quick sharp jab to his side from his aides the moment he said it, but they come across as very, very unusual. The universal reaction from leaders to a seemingly terroristic act like this is to condemn it as a senseless, irrational, indefensible act of violence. By assigning a motive for the act, Erdogan seems to elevate the "terrorist" to the level of a sensitive, thinking individual who reacts to events rather than being a inhuman brute.

Amuses me to think of what the narrative of some important events would have been if Erdogan's candidness was a norm. Imagine George Bush saying to fellow Americans after 9/11: "This is the cost of our lust for oil and our fondness for keeping military basis on foreign lands". Or Modi assuring Ahmedabadis in simple terms after the July blasts: "This is the cost of the 2002 riots".

Or a televangelist saying that Hurricane Katrina was the cost of America allowing abortions. Oh, wait, you don't have to imagine
that.

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