"A conflict of interest is a situation in which someone in a position of trust, such as a lawyer, a politician, or an executive or director of a corporation, has competing professional or personal interests. Such competing interests can make it difficult to fulfill his or her duties impartially. Even if there is no evidence of improper actions, a conflict of interest can create an appearance of impropriety that can undermine confidence in the ability of that person to act properly in his/her position."
The following is the transcript of the daily press briefing with the US Department of State for 29 August, 2006:
QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Casey, anything to say about the U.S. Coordinator on PKK issues in Turkey, retired Air Force General Joseph Ralston?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think you saw our statement that we put out yesterday on this subject.
MR. CASEY: But obviously we're very pleased that General Ralston, who's of course both the former Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, has accepted this role being a Special Envoy. This reiterates the commitment that we have to working with Turkey and working with the Government of Iraq to end the threat posed by PKK terrorism resulting from northern Iraq or from any other place.
I should also take the opportunity, Mr. Lambros, to reiterate something that Sean told a few of you yesterday, and which is that we obviously condemn the PKK-sponsored attacks that have occurred in Turkey over the last couple of days. This has resulted in numerous injuries and several deaths. Clearly this is an unacceptable practice. The PKK needs to stop all hostile actions against the Turkish people, and we strongly stand with our friends and allies in Turkey in saying no not only to PKK acts of violence but all forms of terrorism.
QUESTION: Why your government appointed a military person and not a political or diplomatic one? Is there any particular reason?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think as we said in our statement, I think General Ralston is an individual with unique qualifications. He has served extensively in Europe, including again as Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, as well as the head of the United States European Command. He is very familiar with these issues. And obviously, as the PKK is a terrorist group, it is something that requires the work of all parts of our governments not only from the political or diplomatic side, but also from the side of coordination among our security forces. And I think General Ralston is very well qualified both to work the political aspects of this as well also to certainly understand the security dimensions of the problem.
QUESTION: Do you believe the Coordinator Ralston will report directly to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by definition who -- I'm saying Mr. (inaudible) by definition, he's the popular Prime Minister of Turkey (inaudible) 2003 to the present?
MR. CASEY: Well, I know Special Envoy Ralston will be coming here shortly in the next few days to meet with officials here in this building. My understanding is his primary chain of responsibility will be through here. That of course involves conversations with officials like Assistant Secretary Welch who handles Middle Eastern issues, Assistant Secretary Fried who deals with European concerns as well as certainly Under Secretary Burns, who's been actively involved in this issue as well.
QUESTION: Same subject?
MR. CASEY: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: So is he going to have an office in the State Department building? And do you know whether he's planning to go to the region anytime soon?
MR. CASEY: Well, again, I don't have any specific travel plans for him to share with you, although we'll keep you updated on that. In terms of whether he physically has an office here or not, I honestly don't know right now. There are some -- in some cases, some envoys have requested that kind of office space; others have not and I'm just not aware of what his plans are.
[ . . . ]
QUESTION: Yes, on Turkey. Mr. Casey, the other day, Turkish F-16 in the Iranian (inaudible) strike PKK position in northern Iraq, which provoked a strong reaction by Massoud Barzani against that. Any comment? Do you have anything on that?
MR. CASEY: I really don't have anything for you on that, Mr. Lambros. Again, the only thing I would say is that it's very important that we and the Iraqi Government, and the Government of Turkey all work together to end the threat posed by the PKK.
QUESTION: As we understand, PKK has two branches: the political one and the military one. Which from the two you consider not a terrorist one in order to negotiate with Ankara?
MR. CASEY: Look, Mr. Lambros, the discussions and what the envoy will be doing is talking with the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq. We are not engaged in conversations with the PKK or with any other terrorist organization.
QUESTION: And the last one, since --
MR. CASEY: I'll tell you what, we're out of last ones.
QUESTION: Very important, since --
MR. CASEY: They're all important.
QUESTION: Since General Joseph Ralston, as coordinator, will be involved (inaudible) that via (inaudible) Turkey and PKK are entering a kind of political dialogue, how will be this mechanism?
MR. CASEY: No. You can assume that General Ralston will be talking with officials of, again, the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq on how they and we can all work together to coordinate actions to assure that the PKK cannot conduct terrorist activities.
QUESTION: What are the reactions of PKK in this negotiation?
MR. CASEY: Again, I think we're pretty clear on that one.
We are very clear on that one, particularly with regard to US propaganda and claims to fostering the spread of "democracy" in the Middle East. Naturally, these claims are further illuminated by the fact that the new American "special envoy" to coordinate the continued genocide of the Kurdish people, Joseph W. Ralston, also happens to be a member of the 2006 Advisory Board of the American Turkish Council.
Ralston's intimacy with long-time ATC supporting organization, The Cohen Group, and his place on the ATC's advisory group as the representative of the same "consultancy" lends credibility to speculation that the ATC is a de facto branch of the US government. From Dissident Voice, February, 2005:
Operating tax-free and out of the media or watchdog spotlight is the most powerful “non-profit” association in the United States, the American Turkish Council. Like the thousands of Associations operating inside the Washington, DC Beltway, the ATC is chartered to provide “legal and ethical” venues for American-Turkish government and business interests to meet face-to-face to improve business, security and cultural relations between the two countries. The ATC, and other Associations, has a dues structure and committee structure that includes a government relations or “educational” committee that lobbies the public and US government representatives on behalf of its members. But that’s where the similarity ends.
While the ATC is an Association in name and in charter, the reality is that it and other affiliated Associations are the US government. Theirs is the voice that matters and is the one that is heard on television and radio networks through the mouths of newsreaders, senators, congressmen, presidents and military leaders. It is in and through such Associations that US political, economic and military policy is made and the American public subsequently “educated” to support policies that are not, and could not, be debated in public because of their illegality, audacity, complexity and, arguably, necessity. Instead, the creation of policy and action -- or even reaction to events -- is hammered out in corporate boardrooms, foreign governments, research institutes, and think tanks. It all comes together in Associations like the ATC.
Is it coincidence that the new American "special envoy" is also the director of the defense industry's The Timken Company, and is a director on the boards of both URS Corporation and ATC Golden Horn member, Lockheed Martin?
What we have here is a huge conflict of interest which proves to us the total insincerity of the United States with regard to democracy in Turkey, or for the Kurdish people. As such, there is no reason for Kurds to cooperate with the US or with Turkey.
Instead, let us prepare ourselves for another long road through hell, since the Americans will continue to use Kurds as pawns in the Deep State's game. The best outcome that can be hoped for is that both the US and Turkey are bled to the point that they decide on the practicality of coming to a political solution with the Kurdish people. Western states and their militaries have lost the will to fight for "existential" reasons; instead, they fight for their markets, from Global Guerrillas:
The western way of war in the 21st century is a pale shadow of the warfare it waged in the 20th. The reason is simple: for western societies war is no longer existential. Instead, it's increasingly about smoothing market flows and tertiary moral concerns/threats.
According to that analysis, the West no longer has the will to engage in real warfare. Turkey should be included under the umbrella of the West, because it is a member of NATO, desires to become a member of the EU, and therefore has the same lack of will to fight anything protracted. It also wishes to increase its economy, especially in energy. On that long road through hell with the PKK, and with TAK, or with any other Kurdish group that may develop in the future, Turkey should be concerned about its economy. Any operations that will help to destabilize Turkey's economy, should receive the highest priority.
A few recent examples of operations aimed at economic disruption include the recent HPG operation that disrupted the Turkish-Iranian pipeline near Agri, as well as TAK bombings of resort areas and the setting of forest fires in Turkey proper.
In order to learn to live within its limits, Turkey and the US should be aware of the following, also from the Global Guerrillas link:
Given an inability to resolve conflicts through nation-building and state collapse, western states should endeavor to deescalate conflicts rather than ignite them. Escalation is a false God that promises a return of the motivational clarity found in the wars of the 20th Century. It cannot deliver this. The only thing it provides is a widening and deepening of the conflict through the proliferation of opposition.
Exactly, and this "proliferation of opposition" as regards the Kurdish situation has already entered the discussion, from an article on KurdishMedia:
There are four main reasons for this dangerous development of Eagles of Free Kurdistan [Note: Kurdistan Freedom Falcons--Mizgîn]:
1. The world’s indifference to the plight of Kurds and denial of their basic national and cultural rights in Turkey.
2. The US and Europe’s hypocritical and unfair labelling of Kurdish nationalsits as terrorists in spite of their readiness for dialogue, democracy and peaceful solutions to all problems.
3. Disillusion with even PKK’s compromising approach to Kurdish question in Turkey after the capture of its leader Abdullah Ocelan and its giving up the aim of free independent united Kurdistan.
4. The most important factor for this ominous development is what happens elsewhere: in Lebanon, in Palestine, in Iraq and everywhere else where there is violence. In this age of satellite TV, the Internet and global information, a new generation of Kurds can see on daily basis that the groups that most attract attention and international respect and recognition are those that advocate violence, especially criminal indiscriminate massacres of civilians. These methods are also most effective in resisting and fighting oppressive states with formidable killing machines and repressive apparatuses.
Did anyone notice that the State Department spokesman in the transcript never once made reference to Turkey's denial of all rights to the Kurdish people? That would be an example of the world's indifference. There is also the hypocrisy of The List® when we consider that both Turkey and the US negotiate or have relationships with others that they consider to be terrorists, such as the US negotiating with the Iraqi insurgency or Turkey inviting HAMAS to Ankara. Or in the recent US support for a ceasefire that guarantees an increase in strength for Iran's Hezbollah in Lebanon.
How many times have I heard the question from Kurds: "If we start to blow things up, do you think they'll listen to us?" Perhaps this is the right tactic after all because the US is not interested in a ceasefire as a step to a solution, but as a way of doing a favor for its Turkish business partner. This is why Ralston, with his unique qualifications as an ATC tool, was appointed to his new job.
PKK, as the representative of the freedom struggle from Turkish occupation, is ready to discuss the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire, in order to negotiate a political settlement to the atrocities that the US and its puppet regime in Ankara have inflicted on Kurds for eight decades, but until the US and the Ankara regime come to their senses and realize their crimes, PKK will continue to fight.
And let's remember that, for Kurds, the fight is not for financial reasons, markets or greed. The fight is for existential reasons, dignity and honor.