The rural as hot-spot action areas for the global hegamony
Emirhan Bilim

We are all too familiar with military interventions that have been conducted by the US throughout the world most of which have occurred as just bombings, army invasions, or as combination of both. On the surface, considering particularly cold war era, general tendency among many analysts, if not all, is that these interventions were either inseparable parts of an agenda to secure the US global hegemony -including the control over energy fields- or they are forced-moves made by the US governments that attempted to prevent Soviet bloc from expansion.

In fact, the world kept witnessing more or less similar interventions, even after the cold war was brought to an end. Post-cold war era interventions got started in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991, and continued in Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Iraq the second time, Pakistan, Libya, and now in Syria. Although today, that said split general tendency seems leaned more upon the motive of strengthening the US global hegemony -thanks to the dissolved Soviet bloc- we actually may have a good chance to see this clearly has not been the case if we care to take a deeper look into both cold war and post-cold war interventions.

While all the interventions were focused on supposed threats spotted in Asia and South America during the cold war, it was largely the Middle East on target afterwards. Before getting into more detailed analysis with statistics put forward, the fact must be freed: Regardless of era and/or region, at the core of all interventions lays "the rural" as hot-spot action areas. Understanding the general structure of the rural as a root cause of military interventions is crucial for letting go of the chains entwined around us by some vague scenarios that do nothing more than trying to make sense out of non sense.

According to HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), rural is all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. In short, rural is anywhere outside "city". Vast majority, if not all, who live in cities are living on time. Besides, they are all registered, documented, having appropriate identifications, living pre-scheduled and planned lives under constant government surveillance, obliged to get the same paperwork done at certain offices to be able to satisfy basic needs such as providing themselves with shelter, food and water. Unless getting scheduled for limited public transportation vehicles on limited timelines, and choosing to use their own private transportation vehicles, they must first be made sure if they are eligible for travelling from one place to another.

On the other hand, the rural, especially outside western and heavily western influenced countries, is basically free of almost anything the city people have long been obliged to do. Many are living unregistered, undocumented, uneducated, unidentified, unscheduled, and ineligible for most of the things the city life requires for average citizen. People of the rural with their large tribal families living collectively by their own traditions regardless of what modern world has been imposing upon them. They are spread across remote areas like hills, jungles, mountains, and highlands making it seriously hard, if not impossible, for governments to render legitimacy of their rule of laws and order, in other words authority, over the entire population within their internationally recognized boundaries. Governments who drag feet to take precautionary steps to prevent rural population from growing, or cooperate accordingly with the preset agenda by the hegemon, one way or the other, have to face with a clear dilemma: Either keep the power by simply following given tasks for controlling the rural at least in a desired way, and therefore end up being more or less an authoritarian power in the eyes of the public in general; or get overthrown and most likely executed for being uncooperative. 

Late history is full of examples of governments from both sides of this sort of dilemma. One example for cooperating governments is Prime Minister Ecevit of Turkey. In late 1978, after strong pressure from some pro-NATO army generals he eventually declared a "partial" state of siege covering only eastern regions of the country where vast majority of the population were living in rural towns or villages. Although such an order contradicted his accepted political stance of Social Democracy, he not only managed to postpone a potential overthrow against his government but he may have as well dodged a possible execution. An example from the opposite side of the dilemma is the overthrown and executed Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem. Before the US intervention to Vietnam via fake incident of Gulf of Tonkin, French and British officials, both of whom had already experienced conflicts in the region, had proposed plans to the US for the ever-growing Vietnamese conflict. The French proposal was simply made up of their experimented "agroville" program which was already funded by the US during its involvement in the Korean war. This program was basically aimed at removal of rural South Vietnamese population from their "insecure" villages where Viet Kong often infiltrated easily, to protected villages that were built within hospitals, schools, and the like "modern" state system requirements for average citizens in the west. 

The French program also sought for security of the newly built villages by surrounding them with barbed wire fences and providing weaponry with the selected few among the villagers. However, the program was not only inefficient in time and money but there were many other errors during the implementation. Considering the displacement of more than 8 million, success of implementing such program was highly depending on the involvement of local government forces. This is exactly where Ngo Dinh Diem had failed to cooperate with the west. His corrupt officers and soldiers not only burnt down the old villages right before the occupants' eyes, but they also kept themselves the little amount of compensation money that was meant to be given to the villagers. They executed many villagers who resisted to displacement order. Such wrong implementations caused many rural people to join Viet Kong sides instead. 

Having seen only 20% of the displaced were under control of the government, the US came up with its own program called Strategic Hamlet. Based on pretty much the French one, this program however focused more on the rural areas where Viet Kong was considered strong. Due to same governmental errors of implementation, a coup was eventually staged against Diem regime and he was overthrown and executed. Shortly after the program was shut down, and the US used the Gulf of Tonkin incident as an excuse for its military intervention to Vietnam. Air force got on the job immediately by clearing off the rural. Millions were forced to chose in between migrating to Saigon or staying in where they were born and raised which eventually meant extermination. After a while, US bombardment started to target Laos too. The rural of the neighboring country has suffered even worse consequences of the heavy US bombardments, such that, today Laos still remains as the most heavily bombarded country in the history of the planet earth with having been directed 580.000 bombing missions at, equal to bombing in every once in 8 minutes for 9 years. Consequently today, the rural life is completely dead both in Vietnam and in Laos. Salvador's and Cambodia's rural populations have suffered pretty much the same consequences with millions killed and more had to migrate to cities. 

The picture is not so different even after the cold war. Rural Pakistan for example has been suffering tens of dozens of US drone strikes which have been killing and wounding many more civilians than those acclaimed elimination of terrorists. Almost all of the strikes today are occurring mostly in and around officially designated areas called as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The agenda upon the rural is still paving its way whereby the same old story: Creating a conflict in target country. If another "capable power" exists in the game supporting only one side, otherwise both sides. Forcing governments to take action. If they drag feet overthrowing them and assigning friendly ones. Later making them leave it all to the hegemon where necessary. The result is devastating; massacres, mass displacements, new boundaries, new areas, new governments, and most importantly depopulation of rural people.

In Iraq we saw Kurds who were living spread all across the country's rural areas forced by the Saddam regime to migrate up north to that already designated area, also known as 36th parallel. In the early months of the Syrian conflict, Assad did somehow the same to his own rural population including Kurds, relatively a small part of whom were living in south. Due to less ethnic populace many were sent from Iraq's KRG to the so called Rojava cantons. 

If terrorism threat directed from PKK at Turkey today was to be examined from the start, it would certainly be seen that the threat was given birth by series of consequences of internal conflicts during the last couple of decades of the cold war, sparked by both players seemingly at the opposite ends of the political spectrum; USSR and The US. 

Large portions of Turkey's rural population used to share much the same common feudal characteristics with the likes in different regions mentioned above. Turkey's rural population have also long been remained undocumented, uneducated, living free of state authority and surveillance, unidentified, ineligible, illiterate, living collectively with crowded tribal families in their own traditions regardless of what urban was heavily imposing.

After the coup of 1980, the internal political conflict was turned into an ethnic one by some special military implementations upon rural populations. By digging into the techniques and methods used during and in the aftermath of the coup, it would not be that absurd to conclude that such implementations without a doubt were directed by the US, a supposed NATO "ally". Just like in Vietnam, Iraq, Salvador, or other regions had to face with such plots, part of the rural population of Turkey too was given 3 choices: Joining terror factions, getting killed in heavy clashes, or migrating to urban. Essentially these 3 choices have had inevitable consequences for the futures of the said regions and countries. Joining terror factions resulted in growing numbers of terrorist activities which ultimately caused more civilian casualties. The ones who chose not to leave and killed in clashes were used by the terror group as propaganda material not merely to justify their dirty cause but to recruit even more from the rural. Urban migration brought along distorted demographics, increased crime rates, corruption, weakened infrastructures and cultural tensions to the migrated cities. 

Of course, inconsistency of government policies preventing governments from acting accordingly at the very start of the things is one side of the coin. However, considering the fact that numerous examples had already been made out of many governments in different parts around the world, the said dilemma leaving not too much choice for the governments of the cold war era Turkey. Yet again, if a person is capable of ruling millions of people then he should have been able to come up with solutions rather than accepting all terms dictated and cowering away before a hegemon. The fact of the matter is, indigenous proposals that were strengthened with smart implications of balance of power have borne fruits in these lands before. All needed to be done was examining Ataturk's approach in great detail under certain circumstances, and working on it till figuring out how to adapt it to the political conjuncture of the time.
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