ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey has sent large contingents of soldiers, tanks, guns and armored personnel carriers to reinforce its border with Iraq -- amid heated debate over whether to stage a cross-border offensive to hit Kurdish rebel bases.The Middle East is beginning to look like Central Europe just before World War I: too many uncertainties and exposures, and not enough cooler heads to prevail.
The military has said the border reinforcement is routine in summer, to prevent guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, from infiltrating from bases in northern Iraq.
For weeks, television stations have broadcast images of military trucks rumbling along the remote border with Iraq's Kurdish zone, and trains transferring tanks and guns to reinforce an already formidable force in the area.
"The PKK must be eliminated as a problem between Iraq and Turkey," Turkey's special envoy to Iraq, Oguz Celikkol, told CNN-Turk television on Wednesday after visiting Baghdad this week.
Asked whether Turkey could take unilateral action, Celikkol said: "Our expectation is that this issue is resolved before it comes to that point."
Your history books taught you that World War I was precipitated by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. While there can be no doubt that this was the match that lit the fuse, the powder keg was put in place long before that, making a random event like the assassination of a minor duke the flashpoint for global conflict.
Among the real causes of the war are the following:
1) An arms race between Britain and Germany (see Russia and US re-armament)
2) Precipitously reactionary battle plans, specifically Germany's quick thrust battle plan against France, freeing it to fight Russia in the east. (see: American fleet off the Iranian coast)
3) Militarism and autocracy had too much power in the nations that made up the combatants. (Errrrr, I think these parallels are obvious to today's situation)
4) The balance of power favored keeping all nations making alliances and deals behind other nations' backs, thus insuring a balance of power on a very unsteady fulcrum.
5) Economic imperialism, in the form of grabbing developing markets (in today's case, supply markets that are collapsing)
6) Trade barriers, which unfairly imposed hig tariffs on poorer nations. (ahem)
7) Ethnic and political rivalries, such as the Balkan wars, and the Ottoman Empire decline (Sunni, Shi'ite, Kurds)
Not a pretty sight, these past few days on the foreign front, but damned if you read about any of this in your morning newspapers...