by Gordon Taylor | 12/23/2007 08:19:00 PM

Last Sunday, 12/16, the Turkish Air Force launched fifty jets, most of them Lockheed-Martin F-16s, toward targets in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq. In the following hours, according to Hurriyet, an Istanbul paper, some $20 million was spent for fuel, bombs, and missiles, twelve villages were damaged, and five PKK Kurdish guerrillas were killed along with two civilians. Doing the math, we see that ten F-16s were needed to kill one guerrilla, giving us a cost of $4 million per guerrilla.

For veteran Turkey-watchers none of this was a surprise; nor should it be for anyone who monitors our own “defense” spending. The Turkish Armed Forces have been doing exactly this sort of thing to Kurdish villages for decades, sometimes with planes and helicopters, but most of the time with forces on the ground. This time, however, because they crossed into Iraq, American newspapers took an interest. In a Tuesday 2/18 editorial, the Boston Globe called the Turks' attack "worse than useless," and similar editorials have appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In Istanbul, the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem, now confined to an Internet-only edition after repeated closures by the Turkish government, has made good use of the Globe editorial, especially its conclusion that: "Bush ought to urge Turkey to make the PKK superfluous by granting full cultural and linguistic rights to the Kurds and developing the impoverished Kurdish region of southeast Turkey." To which I say: Hey, it's a start.

The civilian casualties, by the way, have been confirmed by the UNHCR, so you don't have to worry about believing the Turks when they say that no civilians were harmed. About 1800 villagers have been displaced. And there were other casualties. Agence France-Presse added: "According to the HCR, more than 200 head of animals also perished in the raid."

Now this is interesting. In other words, the F-16s killed only 7 people, but they blasted more than 200 animals. [Q: Does PETA know about this?] Most of these animals would have been sheep and goats. Keep in mind the fact that, despite Christmas legend, no shepherd in the Middle East would be caught dead "keeping watch over his flocks by night" in the middle of December. It's just too cold. Those 200 animals were not outside: they were underground, and probably in the peasants' houses.

The latter is important, as night temperatures in those mountains now hit -15 C. All traditional houses in Anatolia and Kurdistan contain subterranean stables that are directly attached to the human living quarters, which are also earth-sheltered. The massed animals (sheep, goats, cows) are thus a vital source of heat for the human beings who live with them. In fact, the testimony of 19th-century travel writers makes it clear that peasant houses during the winter become like a steam bath, so efficient is this method of heating.

Now consider this. The American military has been giving the Turks "real-time" intelligence about the PKK locations. Prior to the Turks' air strikes, our guys reportedly detected "movement" and evidence of "meetings," and it was on that evidence that the Turks struck. What kind of intelligence provided that evidence? We can assume that the Americans use infrared sensors, which detect heat. Thus the more warm bodies detected, the greater the threat, especially if those warm bodies are walking together to a central meeting place. Are we beginning to get the drift?

Try this scenario. The scene: Ops HQ, Diyarbakir Air Base, Turkey. The phone rings. Capt. Mehmet Fubar, Turkish Air Forces, picks up. It is Col. Bart Guanaco, USAF, calling from an orbiting AWACS:
Fubar: Hello!
Guanaco: That you M'met?
Fubar: Bart dearest! How does scope look?
Guanaco: Incredible, amigo. A real bingo party down there.
Fubar: Binko? What is?
Guanaco: Bandits all over the screen: one o'clock, three o'clock, you name it.
Fubar: Please speaking English, dearest Bart.
Guanaco: M'met, I think we got us a PKK meetin' goin' on.
Fubar: Really! Tell me!
Guanaco: Amazing, man. Commie bastards think they can go underground and hide, but they're givin’ off so much heat they must be havin’ an orgy. Listen: here's the coordinates...

And the rest is history.

Far-fetched? You tell me: how else do you use $20 million to kill just seven people--and over 200 sheep?