Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cry Havoc?

If this gets worse, of course, it will mean civil war, which will mean the eventual breakup of Iraq. I have ambivalent feelings about this. Iraq is, in many ways, an artificial entity, a creation of colonial interests now long forgotten and irrelevant. Perhaps, objectively speaking, it would be better for the factions involved to stay together in a federated country, but objectivity generally matters little when nationalism and faith are involved. In some senses, I am quite sympathetic to this, especially in the case of the Kurds. Several people I have spoken to whose knowledge on the subject I trust have told me that the Kurds are essentially biding their time until the moment is ripe to declare independence. If they do, I’m afraid I would have to support them. Mainly because they so obviously deserve it. One of the often suppressed facts about Israel’s relationship to the rest of the Middle East is that it has been supportive of the Kurds since its inception, long before it was fashionable and long before most of the world knew the Kurds existed. It's obviously not my place to say so, but if it were up to me I’d have to venture the opinion that the Kurds have long since earned their own state.

A state, incidentally, that would likely be democratic and an American ally. Theoretically, it could serve as an anti-terrorist buffer state between Iraq and Iran. On purely realist terms, therefore, a Kurdish state could be very much in America's interest.

As for the rest of Iraq, God only knows how it would break apart. The Sunnis and Shiites seem to be much more mixed together than one might assume, and my guess would be that nasty things ethnic cleansing and massacre would likely be swift in coming if civil war broke out. I don’t know enough about the issue, unfortunately, but it certainly seems like we would be looking at another Lebanon, and with American troops on the ground and in the crossfire. That, I think, is something we should now be pulling out all the stops to prevent.