Wednesday, December 29, 2004

South West Asia Treaty Organization - SWATO

What is needed now is to convene a meeting of the defense ministers of the nations of South West Asia to investigate the formation of a South West Asia Treaty Organization (SWATO). We should follow the precedents of SEATO and NATO. The invited nations would be Iraq, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan. Let’s look at each in turn.

Iraq is rapidly becoming the hub of a new democratic movement in Asia. And it is home to the American military might in the region. Its inclusion is readily apparent.

Turkey might be an object of some suspicion because of its decision not to allow American forces to pass through during Operation Iraqi Freedom. But this ignores Turkey’s long and valiant history. During OIF, the Kurds fought and defeated Saddam’s forces with air support from America. This front was quite similar to operations by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. These Kurdish forces had been sustained for over a decade through trade into Turkey. Turkey has been a stalwart member of NATO for over a half century. And they were directly on the front line with a common border with the Soviet Union. Turkey’s armed forces dwarfed those of say, France. Those old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis should recall that the crisis was diffused by the Soviet withdrawal of their missiles from Cuba followed by American withdrawal of Atlas missiles from Turkey! And Turkey will appreciate American efforts to support its inclusion in the European Union (although maybe they’d prefer to join another E.U., the Etats-Unis -the members of SWATO).

Cyprus is a small island that has been divided between the Turkish and Greek sides. It has been a festering sore in relations between those nations and is a block to Turkey’s entry into the European Union. They are included to build cooperation among neighbors.

Israel is the home of democracy in the Arab world (aside - note that Turks and Kurds are definitely not Arabs). They have been an American ally since the founding of the nation in the late 1940s. And they are a dominating military power in the region. They and Turkey are the big dogs of SWATO.

Jordan has been an ally of the United States for many years. But it has often chosen a “nuanced” position that has raised some American hackles. But no one should doubt the influence of the Queen mother, Queen Noor. Born the American Lisa Halaby, she is a powerful force for decency in Jordan and the region.

So in sum, we have a circle of nations with definite prospects located in the neighborhood. Now comes the fun part. Have you noticed that the U.S. Navy has had little to do in Iraq of late? Maybe it is time to make the Commander of the Sixth Fleet the Joint Task Force Commander charged with overseeing SWATO. He could organize a joint cruise of American, Turkish and Israeli warships in the eastern Mediterranean, say 13 nautical miles west of Beirut. Do some testing of tactics against missile gun boats in anticipation of the forthcoming LCS class of American warships.

That should have a very interesting effect on the geographic center of SWATO, Damascus. How would you like to be Bashir Assad and suddenly find yourself surrounded by newly cooperative military powers with a long history of grievances against you? Would you support Ba’athist insurgencies in Iraq? Would you hide WMDs for Saddam? And would you get nervous about all those Top Gun pilots, who blasted the Taliban out of their caves at Tora Bora, flying off their carriers just minutes away? Just asking!


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