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February 15, 2006

The Perks Of Power Are Sweet! SWEET!

As you may know, a new Turkish movie called The Valley of the Wolves--Iraq is setting box office records there. Apparently it portrays America in Iraq as monstrous, massacring civilians and removing prisoners' organs for patients in the U.S., Israel and England.

Dispiriting. But what really caught my eye was this section of a recent Knight-Ridder story (via):

Yusuf Kanli, the editor in chief of the Turkish Daily News, said the film is grounded in a real event known as the "bag incident," which cemented the movie's popularity in Turkey.

"Abu Ghraib is a deep wound, but it's war, and war is never clean," Kanli said. "But what happened in July 2003 can never be forgotten by any Turk."

In that incident, U.S. troops arrested 11 Turkish special-forces officers in northern Iraq and walked them from their headquarters with bags over their heads. It was considered a bitter betrayal by a trusted ally. Turkish newspapers dubbed it the "Rambo Crisis." Recent opinion polls rank it as the most humiliating moment in Turkish history.

What interests me about this is not only did I have no opinion about the "bag incident," I had NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT.

In other words, it's possible for America to do things to other countries that they consider "the most humiliating moment" in their history...and even anti-American America-haters like myself can't be bothered simply to know it happened.

This is one of the true perks of power: being able to get away with complete ignorance about other people. Generally speaking, for countries as well as individuals, the more power you have the stupider you are. If you have gigantic amounts of power, you can get away with knowing nothing whatsoever. George Bush George Bush George Bush.

I'm curious to know if others knew more or less than me about the bag incident. (Well, more or the same; you couldn't really have known less.)

Posted at February 15, 2006 05:47 PM | TrackBack

never heard of it and i read alot of news

Posted by: phil harder at February 16, 2006 12:10 PM

I can't remember ever hearing of it myself. Gee, I wonder why?

Posted by: Scott at February 16, 2006 12:11 PM

I vaguely remember hearing a quick blurb about it over on the bbc but I could be wrong.

Posted by: at February 16, 2006 12:11 PM

I have never heard of this. Amazing. Or not. Nothing these people do surprises me anymore.

Posted by: Mark at February 16, 2006 12:13 PM

First I've heard of it.

Posted by: davedave at February 16, 2006 12:14 PM

Never heard of it, either. Creepy.

Posted by: C at February 16, 2006 12:17 PM

Wow. Sobering but not surprising. I bet I know more than ninety-five percent of Americans (not saying a lot) and I hadn't a clue but I know there are lots of things that we don't know or think about that have affected the way others see and treat us.

Posted by: Maezeppa at February 16, 2006 12:25 PM

I have never even heard of it. Wowzers.

Posted by: BRG at February 16, 2006 12:27 PM

My wife nor I have ever heard of it, and the majority of her free time is spent on news, blogs, and alternative sites.

Posted by: StevyPeat at February 16, 2006 12:39 PM

Yes, I do recall reading about it at the time (that the US had captured and expelled some Turkish special forces caught in the Kurdish area). I hadn't realized that it was seen as such a big humiliation in Turkey though.

Posted by: Joe Buck at February 16, 2006 12:40 PM

Never heard of this incident.

Posted by: at February 16, 2006 12:44 PM

I don't think this made the news here in Norway either.

Posted by: at February 16, 2006 12:44 PM

I was in Turkey that summer, so I remember seeing this on CNNTurk, but I didn't think it would end up being "the biggest humiliation ever".

Where I was in Turkey, nobody gave me a hard time for being American- in fact, people were extremely friendly, so this surprises me.

The image being shown on TV was of the Turkish soldiers on their knees, with bags on their heads, but what caused the most controversy, I believe, were the American rifles that were pointed at the soldiers in captivity.

The Turks had no good intentions- and I think the incident may have been doubly humiliating because the soldiers were caught in Kurdish territory. And I know there are a few Turkish people who would argue that the Turkomen must be "defended" in Iraq.

It's a huge failure of both countries to have allowed such a diplomatic problem to have occured. I couldn't believe that US army personnel was holding guns to the Turkish officer's backs. That was so idiotic.

But I find it pretty disturbing that some filmmaker would release something like that, as if the majority of army personnel were bloodthirsty thieves, etc... Turkey is not, I think, a radical country. They have had good relations with the Israelis, and have upheld a strong secularism in their society.

And at the same time, I'm bothered that things have gotten to this point...

Posted by: alex at February 16, 2006 12:46 PM

Jonathon --

I consider myself fairly adept at keeping up with world events, and I had the same reaction you did. The most humiliating event in a country's history? That's devastating. And I never, ever, heard it mentioned.

Posted by: Bowling for Jaeger at February 16, 2006 12:48 PM

Well, hello: just back from the VA, they can't find my service records - I went in at a time that the service number was a distinct number from the SS No. used today. As a result, thanks to the Bush steamroller, I paid $20 bucks for 6 little ol' pills for the pump: Before Jan. 1, I used to pay $15 for sixty of the suckers, take them twice daily. Almost makes one want to go hunting with Cheney.

The bag incident was big news on Mexican tv, which I get here in El Paso straight from D.F. 1500 miles or so away, thanks to a series of towers that dot the Mexican countryside which have the sole purpose lof amplifying the signal so all Mexicans and even Mexican-Americans can get the word from the capitol. It really was big news, with the commentators all atwitter over the bags, calling the things and the rifles at the ready all kinds of afronts to human rights.

Now, I live in El Paso, just across the border, and there was nothing - nada - on national or local news. I don't even recall our sick excuse for a paper - the El Paso Times, a Gannett rag - printing anything about it.

Off topic, here's a little proof that Texans have more fun than most by watching Roller Derby, getting shot in the face, and from time to time making babies.

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at February 16, 2006 12:49 PM

If that's the most humiliating event in Turkish history, the Turks have forgotten the entire 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th.

Actually, they HAVE forgotten it, largely because one of the reforms of Kemal Ataturk was to switch Turkish writing to the Latin alphabet. Turks today can't read their own history and literature from before WWI.

Jana C.H.
Saith Will Cuppy: Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned because the violin had not yet been invented. He played the lyre and sang of the Fall of Troy.

Posted by: Jana C.H. at February 16, 2006 12:49 PM

But even before a generation had passed Hitler was admiring what the Turks got away with: "Who remembers today the slaughter of the Armenians?" or words to that effect.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at February 16, 2006 01:05 PM

I had read about it, ages ago, but certainly not in the States. UK papers probably covered it. No one blinked there either.

Posted by: simon e at February 16, 2006 01:19 PM

I do remember reading about it, and worrying not about Turkish humiliation, but about future Turk ops in Kurdistan. A little too loosey goosey, and if it had been the Pershmerga that had found them, I doubt we would ever hear about it. The Turks would be "missing".

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech at February 16, 2006 01:48 PM

I read about it several times when it happened, probably, as others have noted, on the BBC website, although I'm sure it got a blurb in the daily roundup on CNN's site at the time, as well. The bagged head thing either wasn't in there or didn't register, but the real angle on the story was that Turkish troops of a nation that had refused to offer any help were in northern Iraq without the permission of the Kurds or the occupying power and with apparent intent to assassinate Kurdish leaders.

Yes, Turkey, I suppose it is humiliating when your illegal death squad is apprehended.

Posted by: Dylan at February 16, 2006 01:54 PM

Well, it was in the news in summer 03, and I'm surprised that all the lefty know it alls now know nothing about it.

The Turks were sniffing around, U.S. caught them, and dealt with them in an appropriate manner. They are lucky the Iraqi Kurds did not find them first. The fact that some anti-American Turks and their allies now want to make money from the incident is well, typical of the crap that goes on with the left and the anti-American factions.

As to your comment about the U.S. being so arrogant and powerful that we weren't even aware of it, and implying that this somehow makes the U.S. a bad guy, well, you are a bit off base.

r/ Bedrock Guy

Posted by: Bedrock Guy at February 16, 2006 02:24 PM

Never heard of it either.

Though I did hear about the movie because Debbie Schlussel was having a coniption that an American actor would appear in a foriegn movie and isn't the hero.

Posted by: elemental at February 16, 2006 02:44 PM

What I enjoy most about this:

The Turks were sniffing around, U.S. caught them, and dealt with them in an appropriate manner. They are lucky the Iraqi Kurds did not find them first. The fact that some anti-American Turks and their allies now want to make money from the incident is well, typical of the crap that goes on with the left and the anti-American factions.

is the always-at-war-with-Eurasia quality of it. It was but a few short years ago that the U.S. was picking up Kurds in Turkey, much to the delight of Bedrock Guys everywhere. Of course, Turks in Kurdistan or Kurds in Turkey, one thing always remains the same for Bedrock Guys: a fevered convinction that "the left" is in league with America's numberless enemy.

What I enjoy second most about it is that if Bedrock guy were Turkish, he would already have seen the movie seven times, quietly weeping with patriotism at each viewing.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at February 16, 2006 02:55 PM

Hey, do you think this are Tom Tomorrow's bad neighbors?

I think if you're getting insulted through his website, he ought to at least put you on the "Co-Bloggers" list.

Posted by: Sully at February 16, 2006 03:21 PM

Never heard of it, either.

Posted by: SB_Gypsy at February 16, 2006 03:26 PM

It was on CBC ( Canadian Broadcasting corp. ) TV/Radio news .... but I live in Detroit so I can get some news from "overseas" that hasn't had the scrubbing, waxing & polishing treatment....
- J.J.

Posted by: John A. Joslin at February 16, 2006 05:52 PM

Yep - heard about it on Radio National in Australia (but we have a large Turkish population here in Melbourne, so...)

Posted by: floopmeister at February 16, 2006 06:22 PM

What io love about this:

The Turks were sniffing around, U.S. caught them, and dealt with them in an appropriate manner. They are lucky the Iraqi Kurds did not find them first. The fact that some anti-American Turks and their allies now want to make money from the incident is well, typical of the crap that goes on with the left and the anti-American factions.

is the lack of self reflection.

Does Fred Flintstone question why anti-US films sell so well? Must be a lot of some anti-American Turks and their allies and the left and the anti-American factions kicking around the world, hey.

Me, I think it's related to the way Michael Moore is world famous while rightwing shill like Anne Coulter wouldn't get free entry to a local chook raffle here.

Anne Who?

Posted by: floopmeister at February 16, 2006 06:28 PM

Yeah, I heard about it at the time.

Posted by: matter at February 17, 2006 10:17 PM

I read a lot of leftist news and I never heard of it.

Posted by: The Scarlet Scribe at February 18, 2006 07:36 PM

There's a country named after a bird? Never heard of that incident either.

Posted by: JB at February 18, 2006 11:19 PM

I read alot of news and Ive never heard of this incident. It was probably incidental to our government and probably never imagined it had any real meaning to them either, nor cared.
What suprises me is the reaction to the movie. Is noone supposed to make movies with Americans as bad guys? Thats kind of odd dont ya think? Considering we enjoy hundreds of movies about others and portray them not only as evil but often unbelievably stupid and always vanquished.

Americans have a very goody-goody image of themselves dont they?

Posted by: Sonja at February 20, 2006 12:23 AM

As the grandson of survivor of the "Young Turks" slaughter of Armenians, this story draws mixed feelings.

Of course, modern Turks can not be held responsible for the actions of Turks almost 100 years ago. That's how my grandfather raised us: "Forgive, but no Forget."

However, it is a very loosely held "state secret" that Sibel Edmonds translated an intercepted communication, in Turk, that showed Dennis Hastert accepted a $350,000 bribe from the Turkish government to not bring a resolution to vote condemning Turkey for their role in the Genocide.

Is anyone surprised by that? How come THAT isn't blogged to death????

As far as PR, and understanding diplomacy, are u frickin' kiddin' me? This administration??

The one that rattled sabers at North Korea, and got a Nuclear Capable Adversary in return??? Yup, smoooooooth.

Remember how Bush stopped Clinton's "oil for monitoring" program, right away in 2001?? N.K. removed the IAEA monitors with that shenanigan.

Then, I would imagine someone had to tell Chimpie, and his V.P. Quickdraw McGraw a FACT of LIFE: The North Koreans will KICK ASS ON THEIR PENISULA. Sure, we might eventually "win." .

These aren't easy Arabs to pick on.

These are trained killers. Probably Rove whispered in the earpice: "DON'T say "Bring it on" to Kim Jung Il, Please!!"

THAT is what should be stressed about Republicans: ALL their Foreign Policies FAIL.

Period. End of story.

Posted by: farang at February 20, 2006 01:09 AM

Who give a flying rats ass. That's the media for you. Not a government "conspiracy". Since when could this government keep the idoit press from printing any NEGATIVE information?!!?
So they had sandbags on their heads...waaaa. They'll get over it. They're still alive, and if you have your way, they'll be back on the streets tomorrow. In a war, I consider that no harm, no foul. War is a messy thing. NO war is perfectly carried out. Some our own soldiers die from "friendly fire".
As far as foreign policy, it's not that it's that we're so hamstrung by the left that this administration can't carry out a promise without some bleeding heart crying about the smallest things.
I'm all for getting the hell out of the middle east as long as this administration would make a promise, and all the bleeding hearts would agree to the promise:
"We leave them alone, but the next time something happens like 9/11...we answer with a nuclear strike. No questions, no oh this or oh IED here, one nuke there." I don't even care what the target is. They could start in Tehran for all I care. They'll either quit or be wiped out. And to me, it's fine either way.
I don't want this thing dragging on for years and years. I don't want my kids and my grandkids fighting this stupid war.
I wish the U.S. were as bad as every other nation claims. We're not going to "win their hearts", and I could care less if we did. We should be kicking the crap out of them no holds barred, and let THEM be scared about what WE'RE going to do to them if they don't straighten up.
Screw all you ass kissers on here. Hug the world, and all you'll get is a black eye in the press, and a punch in the gut from those you're trying to help.
They hate us, and I say hate 'em back.

Posted by: joecitizen at February 20, 2006 12:59 PM

Yes, heard about it here in Denmark, back then. We heard about the Turkish protest, but I don't recall the point about being bagged -- which in this case would be exacberated by them being elite troops and officers to boot -- I think that was in our Danish news, but not the bags.

Danish news coverage is a strange mixture of good reporting and good old wussieness.


Posted by: Chuck Cliff at February 20, 2006 01:26 PM

I live in Greece, and would expect to hear about this. The media here would have loved it. I have no recollection of it, however. But then, none of it surprises me. There's so much that's worse going on, that this seems pretty tame. What makes it bad for the Turks is that they were treated this way by a perceived ally.

Posted by: Thomas at February 20, 2006 04:26 PM

first I've ever heard of; not a single peep prior.
mid-to-hard-core news junkie.
o, and "jo:"
"As far as foreign policy, it's not that it's that we're so hamstrung by the left that this administration can't carry out a promise without some bleeding heart crying about the smallest things.
Posted by: joecitizen at February 20, 2006 12:59 PM
The same administration that is ruff and tuff and firm and steadfast and stiff like iron? THAT administration would EVER let their actions be constrained in any way by teh wimpy left? No WAY!! yer mixin up yer memes there, boy!
Do like you say: accept responsbility. Be a man. We know you can if you just try.

Posted by: smartalek at February 20, 2006 08:18 PM

I accept responsibility for the administration being too weak to tell you Dems to take a hike. Reps won the election, and they should run the country like they won it, and not "reach across the aisle". Screw that. When the Dems win, then run it your way.
This administration won the election promising certain things, and I for one do blame them when they cave under the pressure.
To me, they're not ruff or tuff enough. I guess you're just lucky I didn't get elected.

Posted by: joecitizen at February 21, 2006 09:40 AM

Damn straight. It's a dirty world, and NO ONE is clean. Live in the moment and let history be the judge. I honestly believe soldiers there are doing the best they can and that's all we can expect.
50 years from now, we'll look back at this madness, and play the Monday morning quarterback, and claim to be the smartest people out there, but as of right now, we'll stumble through as best we can.
Case in it right to blame Clinton for not getting Bin Laden back then? no. Can you blame people for not killing Hitler before he came to power? no. Only history will tell us if we're doing the right thing, so you freaks just keep doing what you're the moral police, and let us handle the work.

Posted by: joecitizen at February 22, 2006 07:11 PM