WHO LOST TURKEY?….Back around 1950, after Mao’s communist forces defeated Chiang Kai-shek and drove him off the mainland to Taiwan, the question of the day was “Who lost China?” Today’s question seems to be “Who lost Turkey?”

Who indeed? Acording to the Los Angeles Times, the culprit is easy to find:

Early last month, Vice President Dick Cheney phoned Turkey’s prime minister with an urgent message: The Bush administration wanted the country’s parliament to vote within days — just before the Muslim holiday of Bayram — on a request to base U.S. troops in Turkey for an assault on Iraq.

….Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, a reluctant supporter of the U.S. request, told Cheney that a vote in parliament would have to wait, according to Turks familiar with the conversation. But word got around, adding to a series of blunders by the Bush administration and Gul’s 3 1/2-month-old government that now seem to have doomed the Pentagon’s goal of a northern front against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

But according to National Review, it’s the striped pants brigade that’s at fault:

With the margin of defeat so narrow ? a mere four votes shy of a simple majority ? State’s unfortunate diplomacy in the past few months likely made the difference.

….While the source of leaks can never be known for certain, officials at both State and the Pentagon insist that the leaks were part of a coordinated campaign by State to strong-arm Turkey. If so, the tactic backfired.

….Notes a Defense Department official familiar with the Iraqi opposition groups: “Many top officials at State don’t want to go to war in Iraq. State knew the politics of the situation, yet they excluded the group backed by Turkey right as the Turkish parliament was voting on the resolution. It makes you wonder: Is State trying to undermine the president?”

The conservatives at National Review have long despised Colin Powell ? not to mention the entire raison d’?tre of the State Department in general ? but their attempt to shift blame is pretty transparent. For all of us who remember Dick Cheney’s disastrous little tour to the Middle East last year, it’s pretty easy to decide which of these accounts to believe: when it comes to elephant-like blundering and insensitivity, Cheney has Colin Powell beat by a country mile. Looks to me like we can notch up yet another dismal failure to add to Dick Cheney’s long string of diplomatic fiascoes.