That’s Ralph Peters’ prescription for avoiding a third Iraq war down the road.

Speaking of Iraq as a single, integrated country is a form of lying. Its borders were drawn by grasping European diplomats almost a century ago, with no regard for the wishes – or rivalries – of the local populations.

Today, the Iraq we’re trying to herd back together consists of three distinct nations caged under a single, bloodstained flag. Our problems are with only one of those nations, the Sunni Arab minority west and north of Baghdad.

Not only will it serve our interests, Peters argues, but it is the moral thing to do as well:

the Kurds deserve freedom and a state of their own. After the Jews and Armenians, they have been the most persecuted ethnic group of the last hundred years, always denied an independent homeland, shot, gassed, driven from their homes – and even victimized for the use of their native dialects. The world’s willingness to look away from the long tragedy of the Kurdish people is inexcusable.

And consider how strategically helpful a Kurdish state, reliant on U.S. military guarantees, might be. If the Kurdish people agreed to host our forces, we could abandon our bases in Turkey, the use of which has been restricted almost to worthlessness. New airbases amid a welcoming population would be quite a change in the region. Even the Saudis and the Gulf Arabs would be on notice.

As to Turkey’s reaction, Peters echoes Rhett Butler’s famous line in Gone with the Wind.

While I am no expert in Middle East politics, I’ve long believed in the value of nation-states and have favored a Kurdish state in particular. This puts me, along with Peters, in disagreement with Tom Friedman among others.

Update (16:56): Stephen Green is coming around on this one, too.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Cam says:

    It’s a really interesting thought, although if we were to do something like that, wouldn’t we be accused (once again) of rampant imperialism?