Friday, August 8, 2014

For lack of a Kurdish state

It is too, too late, but I hope (but do not expect) that Americans are wishing they had looked more favorably on the national aspirations of the Kurds than they have.

RtO has called for America to support a free and independent Great Kurdistan ever since it began in 2008. So far as I know, no one else except Kurds agrees. But consider what would be happening now if there were even a Little Kurdistan.

Well, we cannot know. Perhaps if they had attained their community interests, they would not feel like offering refuge to Christians, Shia Musims or Yazidis. They would surely be of two minds about the Shia, who have been no friends of the Kurds.

Possibly their behavior over the past 11 years has been only cynical, judging all their maneuvers according to how they thought they would play in America. They have not gained much in a positive way, but at least they have mostly managed to present themselves as less bloodthirsty and crazy and incompetent than the others in their neighborhood.

In my view, their strategy has been to avoid antagonizing the American government too much while keeping their powder dry and waiting for an opening to be created by the well-known inability of Arabs to govern anything. Just weeks ago, it looked as if their time had come.

 The Baghdad government is not functioning, and turmoil in Syria, Israel, Gaza and Egypt was occupying attention. The Kurds began grabbing for territory and consolidating a government. By sending oil to market, they forced the US government to take seriously their claims (still muted in public) to be a de facto government with substantial claims to practical ability and legitimacy.

The US government hates that.

Then something interfered. Not something unforeseen; it was almost a given. ISIL grabbed the  heavy weapons that the US had improvidently given -- didn't we learn anything in Vietnam -- to the illegiitmate, corrupt, incapable and failing pseudo-state in Baghdad.

That those weapons would never be used by the mythical Iraq army was certain. Probably the Kurds expected to get them. Too cautious because of their wariness about antagonizing the US, they were beaten to the prize by the reckless ISIL.

In anything like an equal fight, the Pesh Merga (who, let us not forget are a kind of commies) will prevail against unmotivated Iraq conscripts and timeservers wearing the uniform of the illegitimate Baghdad regime. But ISIL is as devoted as the Kurds are, so the bigger battalions prevail.

But an armed, independent Kurdistan (even Little Kurdistan) could have been an effective counter to ISIL. Whereas the central government never could have been.

Here, it is useful to restate the fundamental error of the Obama foreign policy as regards the Koran Belt (which is completely different from the Bush errors but no less damaging).

Obama bought into the fantasies of David Kilcullen, making him his unconventional warfare adviser, that religion is not important in the political calculus of the Koran Belt.

Guess what. That was completely wrong. As I said in 2009:
The so-called Awakening in Anbar came about because (we are offered a choice of two) the local tribes objected to bids from the outside Muslims to have them for sons-in-law, or they objected to having their children baked alive.
One can see why they would object to either, but it is harder to see why, up to 2007, they thought it well to ally themselves with people who baked American children. Kilcullen never explains why we should want such people on our side now (or ever) or care what happens to them. Worse, he acknowledges that the alliance of the Anbar (and similar) sheikhs with the Coalition and/or the central (not national) government of Iraq may not endure. Count on it. The sheikhs were not fighting for a unified, free and democratic state. Nothing could be less congenial to them.
As it turns out, the sheikhs joined ISIL.

What else did anyone expect?

Kilcullen was Petraeus's adviser in the Surge. It is a small mercy that the idiot could not keep it zipped up and screwed himself out of the direction of the CIA.  But his replacement has been no better, and the US is still backing ridiculous and hopeless surrogates. Did we learn nothing in Vietnam? 


  1. You wrote an entire post about a putative Kurdistan, and somehow managed not to mention Turkey once.


  2. I have mentioned Turkey more than once in the past. It needs to be broken up.

  3. It needs to be broken up.

    Sheesh, if it wasn't for passive voice, how would progressives exist? By whom?

    Turkey does exist. Making a case for an independent Kurdistan absent that not so minor quibble is just as realistic as hoping for sparkly pastel unicorns to make everything better.

  4. I should have said -- and have said elsewhere -- that if the Turks have any sense they don't) they will break themselves up; the fancy word is devolve.

    You said, earlier, that my call to dismember the 4 states with Kurdish minorities was unrealistic; but 2 have already broken up, in the worst fashion.

  5. ... my call to dismember the 4 states with Kurdish minorities was unrealistic ...

    It was, in the sense you completely failed to take the real world on board as to why that dismemberment didn't happen.

    See also, for yet another example, why what you think Turkey should do doesn't amount to flatus in a hurricane as to what Turkey will do.

  6. Was there supposed to be a link there?

    If it was possible to remake Iraq, why not Turkey?

    If America really had the principles it claims to have, the first step would have been simple and cost-free: Announce that our government supports the national aspirations of the Kurds.

    It would not have resulted in a Kurdish state instantly. Recall that 31 years -- and a lot of unpredictable events -- passed between the Balfour Declaration and the decision of the United Nations to recognize a state of Israel.