If the Turkish parliament doesn't come around and vote to allow U.S troops on its soil, look for diplomatic finger-pointing to begin in earnest over Who Lost Turkey? Now, if the CIA's special couriers can't produce the three votes needed in a second vote, then there won't be a big northern front for the war.

Older hands may point to the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, when then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III paid three visits to Turkey to show how much he valued the friendship of President Turgot Ozal. And Turkey was most cooperative.

In contrast, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has not gone so much as once to Turkey since President Bush began talking about war with Iraq, according to the State Department's Web site.

In fact, Baker's very first trip from Washington, a week after Iraq invaded Kuwait, stopped first in Ankara, where he met with Ozal and other Turkish officials. He returned to Turkey a couple months later and then once more a few days before the U.S. bombing of Iraq.

Cicero Says

Also on the Iraq front: Bush seems to be doing better than President Bill Clinton in terms of breaks in the diplomatic ranks over his policies. When Clinton was dithering over whether to stop the Serbian slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia, five American diplomats resigned to protest his policies.

So far, only one career diplomat, John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the embassy in Athens, has quit over Iraq policy. Kiesling, in an impassioned resignation letter last week, told Powell the administration's "fervent pursuit of war" was contrary to U.S. values and interests and involved a "systematic distortion of intelligence" and a "systematic manipulation of American opinion" not seen since Vietnam.

"Has 'oderint dum metuant' really become our motto?" he asked.

So many administration officials have been using that phrase we were obliged to look it up. This was a favorite phrase of Caligula's. Cicero said it -- though Seneca rebuked him -- and it means "let them hate so long as they fear."

Deadline's Coming -- It's Here -- and Gone

Don't forget: Today's the deadline for the In the Loop Pick the Potentate contest. This is to find the perfect civilian regent to run postwar Iraq. Send in your nomination -- only one -- with a very brief rationale to In the Loop, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or via e-mail to loop@washpost.com. Include your name, occupation and work and home telephone numbers. Winners get a lovely In the Loop mug.

Is There an ECHO, Echo, echo in Washington?

Extraordinary how great minds think alike.

On Feb. 14, the Progressive Policy Institute, an arm of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, put out its Medicare plan, saying: "Medicare will pay for an expensive and intrusive bypass operation, but not for the drugs that could prevent it. Medicare will pay for an amputation, but rarely provides the education and continuous monitoring services that can prevent people with diabetes from losing limbs."

In proposing his Medicare plan yesterday, President Bush said: "Medicare will pay a doctor to perform a heart bypass operation, but will not pay for drugs that could prevent the need for surgery. Medicare will pay for an amputation, but not for the insulin that could help diabetes patients avoid losing their limbs."

PPI President Will Marshall told The Post's Dana Milbank: "If this continues, PPI may have to start copyrighting its work. Now if only the president would lift the substance as well as the rhetoric."

Through the Looking Glass

CBS News anchor Dan Rather got the Mother of All Scoops in interviewing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein last week. So he wanted to make sure he would be at his best with probing questions.

On arrival in Baghdad, "I went to my hotel room and started preparing lists of questions and tried to memorize an outline of the questions," Rather told our colleague Howard Kurtz.

"I had 31 or 32 questions. I put them in three different orders. I practiced them. I sat in front of the mirror," Rather said, as he tried out the questions "and pretended he [Hussein] was on the other side."

Duh. He was! It did seem odd the way Hussein appeared to anticipate the questions.

Alas

Consistency is highly prized in foreign relations. So we note this article from The Washington Post on Jan. 16, 1991, hours before the bombing began in Iraq: "Other members of the U.N. Security Council rejected as appeasement France's proposal on Monday to promise Saddam that an international conference would be held on the Palestinian question in exchange for withdrawal."

"There is a fatal moment when one must act," French Prime Minister Michel Rocard said in Paris. "This moment has, alas, arrived after we have done everything to avoid it."

Nothing if not consistent.

Apologia

Mea Maxima Culpa. Can't possibly apologize enough for using a colonial epithet to refer to the Pakistani press in Monday's column. We regret the error.