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For lack of a Kurdish state

August 8, 2014 - Harry Eagar
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?


Article Comments



Aug-14-14 9:13 PM

Any check Egypt for the Eye of ISIS?


Aug-13-14 8:29 PM

"That's why sustaining a 'unitary' Iraqi state is so stupid."


Petraeus is a fool to anounce to the world he is CIA. In Vietnam, CIA were called "spooks". You don't hear or see them. Spies. Paint a bullseye on his back. Benghazi was covert by such CIA.



Aug-12-14 8:56 PM

Pilgrims left England in protest. Therefore Protestants. To run away, there is no place to hide except Heaven, where there is Peace. That would be the Kurdish state. The Promised Land.


Aug-12-14 6:26 PM

"-- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln November 19, 1863"

When we become of the people, by the people and for the people, with Ethics, so can We be again a United States of America. US is not entitled but a privilege.


Aug-12-14 5:50 PM

Goes too with US of A. 50 states divided by religious beliefs, freedom to bear arms, Race, freedom of speech. Divided States of America is in no better position. Civil War has not ended in America. Yet it preaches to the world on what to do. A baby telling grandfathers what is what and how to do it. Elders should take aside America to a woodshed and beat the behind of a spoiled, arrogant, exceptional brat.


Aug-12-14 5:15 PM

It isn't only sectarian conflict. It's also about forcing sectarians to live uncomfortably together in state boundaries that have no legitimacy.

Change the boundaries and the sects would be free (or freer) to develop their own ways.

The Ottomans never figured out how to unite the sects into "Ottomans" so they abdicated government in favor of allowing each sect (millet) to manage its own affairs.

It will be very hard, but not impossible, to unscramble those eggs and create national feelings that are not also imperialistic.

If people have been killing each other for 5,000 years over conditions in southwest Asia, the strategy should be to change the conditions. That's why sustaining a 'unitary' Iraqi state is so stupid.


Aug-10-14 7:27 PM

Catholic State of the Vatican. Christians? Believers of Jesus and Mary but less of God. Knights Templars.


Aug-10-14 7:23 PM

Correction fear not feat ISIS.


Aug-10-14 7:22 PM

Baghdad, Damascus or Istanbul are three sunni groups of Islam. Saddam Hussein was a sunni. ISIS is those remaining Republicans Guards of Saddam Hussein. I assume a reason for Iraqi soldiers to feat ISIS.

Jerusalem is the Kingdom of Heaven. Taken back from Crusaders and Templar Knights by Saladin (sunni). Lost again to Israelites.

The turmoil in the Middle East is a Religious war and a Civil War of Islam extremists. Sunni, Kurds and Shiites. Christians, Crusaders or Templar Knights(Catholics. Again I say Israel is not the Promised Land but Heaven is and Jerusalem is the Kingdom of Heaven. The gateway.


Aug-09-14 5:52 PM

If we take ISIS at its word -- and I do -- then the city it wants is one of the 3 that was the seat of a caliph -- Baghdad, Damascus or Istanbul.

Jerusalem has political significance in today's Israel/Palestinian dispute but did not have in Muslim politics of the past, which is where these guys live.

They would like to have Jerusalem because it would mean the extinction of Israel but not, I suspect, particularly for Jerusalem's sake. Baghdad, on the other hand, would have immense significance for ISIS.


Aug-09-14 2:25 AM

This is a power struggle for Jerusalem. Always has been for thousands of years. Oil if not wanted by Western countries would not be a major income for Middle East, or Persian Gulf countries.

Middle East countries value salt and sugar. Needed to season and preserve foods.


Aug-08-14 11:54 PM

America is in a love triangle. Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Not knowing who is the fairest of them all.

America will soon find out that AIDS and Ebola are from the same country. Almost being treated the same way. Lucky no one went into Africa to save those 200 plus young women.

The Return of the 4 Horsemen. Already rumored the White Horse is being seen.


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