1974 War in Cyprus from the Perspective of Walzers Jus Ad Bellum (Justice of War)
Wars are fought for diverse reasons. However, those who project conflict against others often justification for the wanton destruction on economic, social, cultural, and political loss that accompanies it. Walzer (2015) provides that modern warfare is about seeking justice relative to a particular moralist dimension. This essay discusses the 1974 war in Cypress from the perspective on Walzers Jus Ad Bellum.
The 1974 War in Cypress
Strategically positioned on the Mediterranean Sea’s eastern beaches, Cypress remains a political and economic enclave that opens up the region for commerce or other attributes important towards control of the region. For this reason, Cypress has in its long past experienced regime changes to the extent that it is predominantly both Greek and Turkish. Prior to 1571, the Island was considered largely a Greek colony. However, the Venetians who had political control over the island could not hold it against the Ottoman Empire. In 1914, the authority over the Island once again changed hands and was taken up as an outpost of the British Empire.
The people of Cypress coexisted peacefully regardless of ethnic differences. The fact that the Greek, as the longstanding inhabitants of the lands outnumbered the Turks 80:18. As British Colonial rule came to a close, ethnic tensions amongst the one’s brotherly neighbors turned bloody as each developed national identities relative to their presence in Cypress. The Turks favored partitioning of Cypress while the Greek demanded that the Island be unified with Greece. In 1955, the Greek Cypriots formed the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) to wrestled independence from the British. In 1958, Turkish Cypriots founded the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT). The outcome was one where the British used the TMT to counter uprisings by the EOKA up until 1960 when Cyprus gained international recognition as a republic. This was after the 1959 Agreement of Zurich and the 1960 Agreement of London that formed a constitutional agreement to eliminate the ethnic fighting. The independence declaration was careful to ensure that both groups received due relevance in the political, social, and economic affairs of Cyprus. Greece, Turkey, and Britain served as guarantors played the role of guarantors towards protecting the stability of the new republic.
The 1974 War in Cyprus from Walzer’s Perspective
Unfortunately, peace and stability as a result of independence from Britain did not last long as the Greek Cypriots failed to accord the their Turkish brothers fair rights accorded under the new constitution. As Walzer (2015 p. 113-114) provides, “the criminality of the aggressor state threatens those deep values that political independence and territorial integrity merely stand for in an international order”. President Makarios proceeded to bring about constitutional amendments that further sideline the Turks from participation in Cyprus affairs leading to their withdrawal from government. The rise to power of Nikos Sampson who strongly championed for the EOKA course led Turkey to perceive the situation with grave anxiety relative to its own national interests. The Treaty of Guarantee agreed for unilateral action in case the territorial integrity and independence of Cypress came under threat. It however, had to seek consultations with other guarantor states to which Britain expressed unwillingness to be drawn into the affair. Greek Cypriots thus engaged in unjust actions against the Turkish Cypriots under the agreement. The leadership of Sampson clearly indicated that it wanted to fully exterminate the rights of the Turks on the Island by unifying the republic with Greece. According to Walzer (2015), his perspective points out that, the Greek Cypriots sought to have the Turk Cypriots totally surrender their political, social, economic, and cultural heritage rights developed for over three centuries. For the Greek Cypriots, the events leading to the 1974 war were essentially a crusade against the Turks resident in the island for many generations. It bore no essence of morality whatsoever rather than only to demonize the Turks in a manner that is reminiscent of the Nazis efforts against the Jews. From Walzer’s (2015) viewpoint the attempts to deconstruct the constitutions to eliminate Turkish rights in the republic was inherently punitive in nature. It was a move to fully discredit the political rights of Turk Cypriots as established under the Treaty of Guarantee.
Turkey’s actions in Cyprus brought about a different change in the reasons for the war. It landed its troops in 1974 and quickly established a safe zone that allowed for s cease-fire declaration. The inability to of Cypress as well as Greece to respond appropriately after turkey’s provocation inadvertently led to a change of leadership in both countries. The invaders did not honor the cease fire and sought to advance further into the island towards ensuring as many Turk Cypriots as possible were within its protection. As Walzer (2015) posits the Turkish government’s engagements in Cyprus translated into “police action” where it came to the help of a people though rightful within their own state were unable to protect themselves from a well-orchestrated crusade. During the Korean War, after the Americans secured the 38th parallel, it was considered unjust and outside moral reasons for war to further charge into North Korean territory (Walzer, 2015). However, the American military did push further forward into North Korean land with a defensive rather than offensive viewpoint in mind. To ensure that in the future, if any aggression to take up South Korean land was instigated by the North, then it would have the advantage of an offensive line beyond the former’s territory.
In light of Walzer’s perspective, it appears that Turkey was keen on ensuring that the rights of the Turk Cypriots were protected (Walzer, 2015). It further appreciated the fact threat the Greek Cypriots were not keen on honoring the rights and integrity of the Cypriot Turks. The Turkish government understood fully well that controlling the 3% triangle held at the beginning of the war was not a feasible ends to the war. It thus reconfigured its previously narrow objectives on the subsequent understanding that its military power was sufficient to protect Turk Cypriots at minimal expense. Indeed, it should be perceived as a crime on Turkey’s part to have challenged the communal and individual rights of Greek Cypriots on the land that it further extended. But from a realist point of view, once the invader achieved its objectives, it acted within notion of morality as well as justice in in ensuring that its actions did not recur once basic values were achieved and upheld. Turkey was able to demarcate 40% of Cyprus land upon which the Greeks opted to revert back to the constitutional order as prescribed in the Treaty of Guarantee. The Cypriot Turks refused and in 1983, the North Cyprus Turkish Republic gained an independence only recognized by Turkey.
In agreement with Walzer’s perspectives on war, one can point that Cypriot Greek actions against the Cypriot Turks bore no moral values whatsoever and sought to disparage an entire people group. It therefore seems that their actions for aggression were tantamount to a crusade against Turk Cypriots. On the other hand, it is true relative to Walzer’s perspectives that Turkey entered into the conflict between the two peoples as a matter of police action. Through its actions criminally led to numerous Greek Cypriots turning into refugees, it was for a just cause. This is founded on the eventuality that Turkey did not in any way seek to progress the line of demarcation further into the island.
Walzer, M. (2015). Just and unjust wars: A moral argument with historical illustrations. New York City, New York: Basic books.