Spot the Neocolonialist

At American Conservative Daniel Larison reacts to the same op-ed by Bernard-Henri Lévy about which I posted the other day:

The chief danger of establishing a new Kurdish state is that it would be violently opposed by at least three of its new neighbors, and the people of Iraqi Kurdistan would be the ones to suffer as a result. This is why the case in favor of doing this is so exceptionally weak. Proponents of a new Kurdish state never take seriously any of the obvious problems and obstacles, but just wave them away or treat them as unimportant. BHL does much the same, and lamely accuses critics of being neo-colonialists because they are opposed to redrawing the boundaries of Iraq once again.

I’m glad to see someone other than me expressing at least a little skepticism about the prospects for an independent Kurdistan. Maybe I’m naive but I’m skeptical about the likelihood of liberal democracy anywhere the heads of the two major political parties are the hereditary chieftains of its largest tribes.

6 comments… add one
  • Gustopher

    Maybe I’m naive but I’m skeptical about the likelihood of liberal democracy anywhere the heads of the two major political parties are the hereditary chieftains of its largest tribes.

    Why is a liberal democracy the only acceptable outcome? Compared to chaos or being a persecuted minority, a local dictator can be a less worse option for the people. A kinder, gentler, western-leading dictator — a king, perhaps. And, over the years, they can push towards democracy.

    (Ignoring all the issues of Kurdistan being surrounded by countries who don’t want it, because that’s all true, but the liberal democracy thing leaps out at me… chaos to democracy is fraught with danger)

  • Why is a liberal democracy the only acceptable outcome?

    Supporting autocracies for geopolitical reasons is one thing. Fostering them is something else entirely.

  • Gustopher

    If an autocracy is less worse than the current situation, I don’t see why we shouldn’t support one.

    Democracy doesn’t always work, especially with divided ethnicities (and maybe tribes). Attempting to impose a democracy on Iraq gave us ISIS.

    Jordan’s mixed constitutional monarchy, or Turkey’s democracy with periodic military coups might be a better model, to give democratic institutions and structures some time to take hold.

    Our own democracy stumbles and fails sometimes, but has a long enough history of norms that it can weather the problems (see Trump, Donald J.). A fledgling democracy doesn’t have that strength.

  • Bob Sykes

    Someone pointed out that there are five countries involved: Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. All of them face partition, and all of them have a common interest in opposing any Kurdistan. Most importantly, since America supports the Kurds, all have a commom enemy in the US. Russia is their natural ally, and the possibilities for Russia in the region are enormous.

  • The idea that Russia is Iran’s, Turkey’s, Armenia’s, or Iraq’s natural ally flies in the face of history and experience. What would be true is that the U. S. through mismanagement has caused Russia, Iran, and Turkey to make a temporary alliance of convenience against us.

    Fun fact: Russia has occupied all or portions of Iran, Turkey, and Armenia. How many natural allies can you name that have occupied parts of each others’ territories? Separating fact from opinion: IMO the U. S. and Russia are natural allies. Russia is not the Soviet Union, Putin is not Stalin. I’m not alone in thinking that. De Tocqueville did, too.

  • steve

    “Maybe I’m naive but I’m skeptical about the likelihood of liberal democracy anywhere the heads of the two major political parties are the hereditary chieftains of its largest tribes.”

    Thought you were talking about the US for a second.

    Steve

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