War, Sport, and Inflatable Sex Dolls

For the past few days, Turkish media coverage of the conflict in Syria has been eclipsed by the departure of Brazilian soccer star Alex de Souza from Turkey’s Fenerbahçe football club.

After yesterday’s incoming fire from Syria killed five members of the same family in the border town of Akçakale, however — prompting continuing rounds of shelling in the opposite direction from the Turkish armed forces — de Souza has been relegated to secondary importance alongside news of the rescue of an inflatable sex doll in the Black Sea.

The Obama government wasted little time weighing in on the situation, declaring itself “outraged” by the “depraved” Syrian strike. A more subdued emotional reaction had, of course, accompanied the 2010 Israeli slaying of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American in international waters, an event that simply caused the US to feel “regret.”

Leaving aside this perennial double standard, let’s note some relevant hypocrisy on the part of the Erdoğan administration, up in arms over the Syrian violation of Turkish territorial sovereignty. The precise details of the Syrian strike have yet to be revealed, but it’s no secret Turkey is playing host to combatants staging incursions into Syria — which technically also qualifies as a sovereign territory. Armed Syrian maneuvers against southeast Turkey seem to follow the same logic as, say, the Turkish bombing of PKK outposts in north Iraq, a policy that has claimed its own fair share of innocents.

Were all extermination of civilian life subject to the same vocabulary, the elimination of thirty-five Kurds in a span of forty minutes last December — courtesy of Turkish warplanes with assistance from US and Israeli drones — would also have been “depraved.”