Tony Blankley

In the past week, the Turks' reaction to the congressional Armenian genocide resolution and their threat of serious military action against our allies the Iraqi Kurds finally has -- too late -- gotten Washington's attention. But beyond the appalling mess we have if Turkey invades Iraq (under the U.N. resolutions, we are, arguably, obliged to defend the Kurds from the Turks -- militarily), there is a larger and still-ignored lesson to be learned by the meltdown in support we have received from the Turkish people.

If there is one idea that Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, share on how to fight the war on terror, it is that we need to reach out to and win the hearts and minds of the moderate, modern, peaceable, more secularist Muslims and empower them to defeat by both persuasion and other methods the radical, violent fundamentalists in their religion.

That would be a very, very good idea. But consider the Turkish experience in the past six years. The Turks are the moderate, modern, peaceable, more secularist Muslims. Moreover our countries have been close allies for a half-century. And Turkey has had extensive friendly commercial relations with Israel. They are Turks, not Arabs, and are therefore less susceptible to the emotional plight of the West Bank Arabs under Israeli occupation.

And yet we have lost the Turks almost as badly as we have lost the angriest fundamentalist Arab Muslims. If we can't keep a fair share of their friendly attitude, how do we expect to win the much vaunted and awaited hearts and minds campaign?

While I hardly have the answer to that question, one lesson can be learned from the Turkish debacle (or near debacle): While we cozied up to their arch threat -- the Iraqi Kurds -- we kept telling them not to worry and to trust us. We did little to allay their fears that the Iraqi Kurds were giving the PKK terrorists succor and sanctuary in Iraq. We didn't pressure our allies the Iraqi Kurds to pressure the PKK. In the future, we are going to have to earn each ounce of friendly relations based on what we actually do for the object of our desire. Good intentions and common visions of the future are not likely to be readily available.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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