Saturday, December 02, 2006
discriminate me, why can't you help?:
OK, so about the Kurds. The current generation of Kurdish leaders has a plan, over the course of between five and twenty years, for independence by way of a massive oil push, consolidation of their power-broker status in Baghdad, and improved regional ties. Kurdish hardship makes independence a sentimental favorite. And it's debatable whether or not this plan is in our interests. As best as I can tell it could go either way.

One thing we shouldn't do in this case is to conflate our interests with Kurdish interests. That's what Najmaldin Karim, a Kurdish lobbyist here in town, does in this op-ed. For instance, his claim:
The Iraq Study Group looks balanced, just as for many years the Middle East looked "stable."
Well, look: for us, it was -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was on the (failed, admittedly) Oslo track; Saddam was contained; UBL was germinating and we had some people on that who failed to stop him. For the Kurds, depending on what period you focus on, not so much. Again, it's debatable what was really in our interests, but it's not debatable that our interests & those of the Kurds were uniquely aligned.

It gets worse.
[T]he Iraq Study Group has shunned America's closest allies in Iraq, the Kurds, out of ideological prejudice. It's not just that the pro-American Kurds make it difficult to argue that Iraqis all hate Americans, thereby obliging troop withdrawals. The Kurds make 'realists' and Sunni Arab advocates nervous; the evidence of Kurdish suffering is irrefutable and it is hard for the United States to walk away from the victims of genocide.
Huh? The logic of troop withdrawal no longer has anything to do with Iraqi sentiment toward the United States -- and anyone with a brain already distinguishes Kurds from Iraqis, as the Kurds themselves do -- but rather with the fortunes of a disastrous war and what open-ended deployment is doing to the military. And, as I found in Kurdistan in January, the Kurds go back and forth about whether or not they care about U.S. withdrawal. Some think it's better for them if the U.S. says Iraq can go to hell, since -- in the parlance of one neocon of my acquaintance -- "We'll always have Kurdistan."

My suspicion is that's really what Karim is upset about as concerns Baker-Hamilton: not that they have some animus for the Kurds, but that they won't endorse building a big-ass base in Kurdistan and using it as a base of operations for the occasional Spring Break in Samarra. And why not? Well, because of the first point: the Kurds are our friends, sure, but our interests are not exactly the same. Let's deal on that basis.
--Spencer Ackerman
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Blogger Askinstoo | 7:13 PM

I have another question that no one who supports a US withdrawal to bases in Kurdistan has bothered to answer. How do we supply large numbers of US troops in Kurdistan? The last time I checked, the Kurds are landlocked and surrounded by countries either hostile to us (the rest of Iraq and Iran) or hostile to the Kurds (Turkey).

What incentive do any of the three have for allowing US supply convoys to move freely through their territory? The Turks, remember, were the ones who shot down the logistics for invading Iraq from north and south simulatneously three years ago. Why would they have changed their minds?
Blogger J. Michael Neal | 8:59 PM