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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/19/19

The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National "Black Eye"

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The "green light" that the US regularly gave Turkish armed forces to attack Kurdish communities in northern Iraq during the years of Operation Northern Watch has recently allowed Turkish forces into northern Syria to attack Kurds there previously under US protection. As President Trump understands the situation at present, using the language of ethnic cleansing, "they (Turkey) had to have it cleaned out." Trump, in his cynical callousness toward the Kurds, stands in illustrious company. It was not Saddam Hussein who first used chemical weapons against the Kurds of northern Iraq (with assistance and approval of the US). That distinction belongs to Winston Churchill, who as Britain's Secretary for War and Air in 1920 answered his critics: "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against primitive tribes."

Incirlik Air Base is again in the news. On Wednesday, October 16, President Trump publicly affirmed the open secret that the US, in a NATO nuclear sharing agreement, has up to 50 B61 nuclear bombs stored in bunkers at Incirlik. In these tense times, Trump was asked, are those nuclear warheads safe? Whereas Douglas Pierce, Vice Commander of the Iowa Air National Guard testifying in court in 2003, had to stick to the official narrative that Incirlik "belongs to Turkey," Trump is under no such restraints and was able to boast about Incirlik as our own: "We're confident, and we have a great -- a great air base there, a very powerful air base. That air base alone can take anyplace. It's a large, powerful air base."

The number of overseas US military bases, estimated at more than 800 in some 70 countries, is hard to gauge, given that they often are camouflaged as bases of the host country. The constitution of Honduras, for one example, does not permit a foreign military presence and officially, no US troops are based there. Under a "hand shake" agreement with the US, however, Palmerola Air Base today unofficially houses some 600 US troops, down from a peak of thousands in the 1980s. In violation of Irish neutrality, the civilian airport at Shannon is a virtual US air base, with more than 3 million US soldiers and their weapons having passed through since 2001. Men -- with Hill, in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, officially a Royal Air Force Base, is the nerve center of the US National Security Agency's full spectrum surveillance and targeted assassination programs with only a token RAF presence. The US has the same nuclear sharing arrangement under which US nuclear warheads are maintained in Turkey with five other NATO member nations. No nation hosts a US military base without surrendering its sovereignty and its integrity to some extent.

Trump's confidence is well placed. Along with Incirlik, the US has many "great" and "very powerful" military bases around the world. In 2003, Col. Pierce's courtroom testimony revealed the purpose behind this great game of smoke and mirrors: it is to keep the US from getting a "black eye," so that no one "could accuse us of doing that if that's what they did."

Trump says that "We're getting out of the endless wars" but that is a lie. While exposing the Kurds to Turkish aggression, roughly 1,000 U.S. troops remain in Syria and there are 5,000 troops across the border in Iraq. Now Trump is sending 1,800 more US troops to Saudi Arabia.

Trump is already claiming his place in history now for a cease fire that Turkey says isn't one. "And you know what? Civilization is very happy. It's a great thing for civilization," he boasts. "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people," said the historian Howard Zinn, and there is no lie that can cover the black eye of US complicity in genocide.

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Brian lives on a Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, and is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
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The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National "Black Eye"

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