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Laelth's Journal
Laelth's Journal
August 9, 2014

Who will help the Kurds?

Now that President Obama has launched a program of humanitarian aid for the Kurds and has authorized limited offensive air strikes against IS, DU has erupted in debate along very familiar lines. Some support the President's decision and the course of action he is taking. Others abhor his decision to risk involving the United States in yet another war in the Middle East.

A recent DU thread asks whether we are "ready" for another war in the Middle East, and I think it's author is right to caution us that "limited" assistance to the Kurds could very well spiral into full-scale war (as we learned from Vietnam). That's a very real risk, and well-meaning people on DU are worried about that prospect. Some of them argue (in typically isolationist terms) that the Kurds are not our problem. Some even go so far as to argue that the Middle East is not our problem (even though they know that Japan, for example, which has practically no oil reserves of its own, gets most of its oil from the Middle East).

This isolationist/pacifist bent among my well-meaning peers at DU is what prompted this thread. To those people who rightly fear another pointless war I ask, who will help the Kurds (who are being attacked, brutally, by IS)? One person suggested that Turkey should help. Iran, which also has a substantial Kurdish population could help, if they were so inclined. The point of this thread is to suggest that nobody wants to help the Kurds. If the United States doesn't do it, nobody will.

Consider the following map:

The Turks do not want an independent Kurdistan. They're probably secretly pleased that IS is attacking the Kurds and forestalling their ambition to establish an independent state. The Turks, for their part, are intent upon keeping their Kurds and their Kurd-inhabited lands (which are rich in mineral resources). It's unlikely that the Turks will help the Kurds, and Turkey is a NATO ally, so we have to consider their interests very carefully whenever we make decisions that impact the region.

The Iranians do not want an independent Kurdistan. As such, they are unlikely to aid the Kurds and are, most likely, secretly pleased that IS is attacking the Kurds. Iran doesn't want to lose territory to an independent Kurdistan, so they are unlikely to aid the Kurds in their fight against IS.

As such, it appears to me that the only state on Earth that has both the power and the will to aid the Kurds is the United States. President Obama agreed to provide humanitarian aid and limited military strikes for this reason. We created this mess in Iraq with a disastrous decision to go to war in 2003. The people of Iraq were much better off under Saddam Hussein, as most sane people can see in retrospect, but because we created this mess, I feel we have a continuing duty to ameliorate the damage that we caused, and that's what I think the President is doing now.

Will this action lead us to full-scale war? Perhaps. Note that ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) no longer exists. Neither does ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). They have both been superseded by IS (The Islamic State) led by a Caliph to whom, supposedly, all Muslims owe allegiance. IS is an existential threat to peace and security throughout the Muslim world. We will have to deal with them sooner or later. For the time being, however, President Obama has decided to aid the Kurds--quite specifically and in a very limited way. Because no other nation has the ability and the willingness to do so, I think he made the right call. Personally, I'd rather deal with IS now, in its infancy, before it grows into a greater menace.

For the time being, however, I ask DU this question: if we don't help the Kurds, who will? Perhaps nobody, and this is a key factor that President Obama considered in making the decision to engage, once again, in this volatile region.


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Wills Point, TX
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Oct 16, 2004, 02:36 PM
Number of posts: 32,017

About Laelth

I am a native Georgian who's currently hiding out in Texas. I am a liberal, and I am extremely proud of the imperfect (but evolving) republic that we call the United States of America.
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