Winning Iraq From Kurdistan?

Thomas Barnett, noting the remarkable success of Iraqi Kurdistan vis-a-vis the rest of the country, argues that we ought to take advantage of our good relationship with them in an intriguing way:

Yugoslavia didn’t fall into place in a day. It did so in sequential chunks. Recognizing Kurdistan-the-success is crucial to keeping the Big Bang sequential instead of cumulative.

Take what the board gives you, I say.

And pull most U.S. troops eventually back to Kurdistan. Don’t leave Iraq, but stay where you’re welcome and accept a certain commute for certain necessary activities.

Grow some lawn and stop only killing weeds. Then let others see where the grass is greener.

Demonstration effects make globalization go round.

Certainly not my first choice, given that withdrawal from the so-called Green Zone would be seen as a defeat. Still, it’s more plausible a plan for victory than withdrawing to Okinawa. And, at some point, we may be forced to chose between least bad options.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    Certainly not my first choice, given that withdrawal from the so-called Green Zone would be seen as a defeat.

    I’m curious, short of absolute stability and complete eradication of all terrorism activities by any group, when would you consider leaving the Green Zone (or Iraq all together) not a defeat?

    For you guys (Right/Republicans), is there any withdraw situation that you would consider a non-defeat, that is even remotely possible in reality? I’m not trying to start a flame-war or anything here (really, I’m not), but I have yet to be told by a war supporter of any “victory” scenario short of turning Iraq into Kansas.

  2. spencer says:

    Do you have any evidence the Kurds would want us there any more than the rest of Iraq does?

    It may be that a major reason the Kurds are doing so well is that the US is not there.

  3. James Joyner says:

    It may be that a major reason the Kurds are doing so well is that the US is not there.

    On the contrary, the US has been there since 1991.

  4. Andy says:

    On the contrary, the US has been there since 1991.

    Protecting them from an external threat. The military is GOOD at this. But it is the ethnic uniformity, plus military protection, that has led to success in most of Kurdistan.

    But, as Michael Totten reports from Kirkuk, the Kurds have just as many problems with the Arabs and Turkmen as we see between the Sunni and Shia in Baghdad.

    Forced partition in these mixed areas seems like the only alternative to civil war.

  5. […] But the truth is nothing much really has changed and isn Are We Overselling Iraqi Kurdistan? [ 07-May-07 8:28pm ] [ T ] [ G ] [ N ] [ L ] Author: Dave Schuler via OTBI know, basically, nothing about Iraqi Kurdistan. I honestly doubt that Tom Barnett knows a great deal more.I do know that the English language Iraqi Kurdish blogosphere is moribund. Its last gasps were complaints about suppression of press freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan. And I also know that there?s a different narrative about what?s going there than the one you?ve probably been hearing. In this contrasting narrative Iraqi Kurdistan is not a burgeoning democracy but a highly traditional, clannish place in which, like in much of the rest of Iraq, tribal interests are highly influential if not dominant, characterizing the two ?political parties? in Iraqi Kurdistan as actually tribes, each led by its traditional tribal leader.I?ve been trying for some time to identify and buttonhole someone who actually has legitimate knowledge and expertise on Iraqi Kurdistan, particularly Kurdish politics, without much luck. Any suggestions?I?m concerned that a major permanent U. S. military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan would tend to destabilize Turkey, not a particularly positive development. It would, however, put pressure on both Iran and Syria, which IMO would be a positive development.Tags: Iraq Conflict Commentary : Walking on a tightrope [ 07-May-07 7:13pm ] [ T ] [ G ] [ N ] [ L ] Musharraf : Walking on a tightrope by Dr. Ghayur AyubCommentary on the France Elects Sarkozy: Will Things Change? [ 07-May-07 7:00pm ] [ T ] [ G ] [ N ] [ L ] via More Violence in France [ 07-May-07 6:50pm ] [ T ] [ G ] [ N ] [ L ] Mainstream media apparently have better things to report, because there?s almost nothing on the wires about the disturbances in France. Luckily we have the blogosphere, and No Pasaran is on top of the news as the ?youths? begin ratcheting up the violence and Islamic leaders issue threats: L.A. Times Comes Around on Iraq: Day 1466 [ 07-May-07 6:45pm ] [ T ] [ G ] [ N ] [ L ] Author: Meteor Bladesvia Dailykos:Just a few months ago, Los Angeles Times’s editorialists were backing Mister Bush’s splurge of blood and bucks in Iraq, arguing that it would be foolish not to try one more time to turn the disastrous American occupation of that country into something … less disastrous. Today, they gave up. Some excerpts:Bring them home […]

  6. […] + Outside the Beltway linked The far-too-successful nation-building that is Kurdistan. + And referenced Tom in his article for the The New Individualist (Ayn Rand alert! 😉 + MountainRunner linked Give Mia some credit. + Say Anything linked The far-too-successful nation-building that is Kurdistan. + Falsafa, Njaro, Mawazo, na Vako Zangu (how’s your Swahili?) linked My prediction on Africa Command coming true a bit faster than I expected. + ShrinkWrapped linked More on Robb. + Pacific Empire linked Connectivity at the price of content control. + Siberian.Ws reviewed (?) PNM. + Baudrillard’s Bastard linked The future of politics is all about who gets access to technology. + Face Journal-Picayune reviewed ‘The State of the World’ article. + Ethan Zuckerman of WorldChanging linked the Pop!Tech talk. + Our 21st Century Challenge mentioned PNM. […]