Friday, March 30, 2007

The Code of the West

The Kurds worry about what will happen after America is forced to surrender next year. Qubad J. Talabany, representative of the Kurdistan regional government to the United States said the Kurds had thought they could trust America this time, according to the Herald-Review.

If the U.S. leaves early and does not protect the Kurds, it will be the third time in a little more than three decades the ethnic group will have been betrayed by the United States, Qubad Jalal Talabany said during an afternoon sit-down interview with the Herald/Review. Earlier Thursday morning, Talabany spoke to nearly 350 people during the last day of a three-day Training and Doctrine Command Cultural Awareness Summit.

In 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger led the United States away from supporting a Kurdish homeland.

After the first Gulf War against Iraq in the early 1990s, “we believed (President George) Bush senior,” Talabany said. When the current President George H.W. Bush’s father called for Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein and promised support, the Kurds and Shiites in southern Iraq did, only to see the United States turn its back.

The end result was Hussein killed thousands of Kurds and caused others to flee into the Turkish mountains for protection, where many died of exposure.

Marsh Arabs near Basra also were killed.

Trust is difficult

“We didn’t trust the United States after that,” Talabany said.

But with the full commitment of American forces finally toppling Hussein in 2003, Kurds once again were willing to take a chance on America.

Take a chance on America? Bad move. The adults are back in charge.

Hat tip: NooYawkah


Blogger NooYawkah said...

Here come the grownups now.

3/30/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I have already proposed in another forum that General P be replaced by
General "Grandma" P.
And of course, Obey for Secdef.

3/30/2007 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I generally don't care for overly whitened teeth, but I love watching that CNN Guy smile.

3/30/2007 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Al Reasin said...

As I often write to politicians:

Just days before his execution at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodian statesman Sirak Mitak penned a final note to the U.S. ambassador refusing his offer of evacuation.

"I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty....You leave and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under the sky.

"But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we all are born and must die one day. I have only committed this mistake in believing in you, the Americans."

3/30/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

The MOMENT Iran is attacked by the west, the Independent peoples of Kurdistan should reclaim the iranian occupied lands of Kurdistan, and merge with iraqi Kurdistan.

Then using new independence attack and capture Syrian occupied Kurdistan.

Then give our fair weather ally Turkey the option to leave it's illegally occupied lands of Kurdistan or face war.

yep it's a pipe dream, but if the fake people palestine can claim historic 3600 years of jewish history as their own, why should the KURDS a REAL people not get theirs?

it's time to roll back the illegal arab/islamic occupation of other peoples lands.

this would be a good start...

it's time to call the occupier (the arab/islamist) by their rightful name...


3/30/2007 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pelosi goes to Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Syria, a country President Bush has shunned as a sponsor of terrorism, despite being asked by the administration not to go.
"In our view, it is not the right time to have these sort of high- profile visitors to Syria," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Friday.

Her repeat trip, an indication she plans to play a role in foreign policy, is also a direct affront to the administration, which says such diplomatic overtures by lawmakers can do more harm than good.

Pelosi will not be the first member of Congress in recent months to travel to Syria, but as House speaker she is the most senior.
She can give us an Update on What Baby Doc has on his IPod.

3/30/2007 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


Talabany... Now, isn't that a family of Iranian puppets? [sarcasm alert]

3/30/2007 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Alexis said...

Talabany... Now, isn't that a family of Iranian puppets? [sarcasm alert]

Well Alexis, you tell me. First off, perhaps you can tell me why Ahmadinejad looks so happy in this photo:

After that, you can graduate to this essay, and its "20 year conclusion" which I'd like to read you dispute:

What exactly do you think Talabani's relationship is with Iran? What about Nuri al-Maliki? What about ABul-Aziz al Hakim?

3/30/2007 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

WiO: Then give our fair weather ally Turkey the option to leave it's illegally occupied lands of Kurdistan or face war.

How uninformed. NATO countries do not make war upon each other.

3/31/2007 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Gee, Teresita -- you've never heard of France giving NATO secrets and plans to the Serbs.

Nor the on-going fighting and feuding between Greece and Turkey?

Or perhaps you're just being sarcastic as opposed to uninformed and snarky.

3/31/2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think we could pull out of Iraq and still provide support for the Kurds. We maintained a no-fly zone for them for years which Saddam more or less respected, and I see no reason that it couldn't be sustained.

If we pull out of Baghdad and leave the Sunni's and Shiites to fight it out among themselves, it really shouldn't affect the Kurds that much. They have their own militia and their own oil and their own defenses. They don't need the south.

The big question would be how frisky Turkey is feeling these days, and whether the Turks would try to move in and take over. My guess is not, given that they're trying to act all civilized in front of the European Union admissions committee.

3/31/2007 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...


I don't dispute either reference.

All it shows is that Mr. Talabani and most Iraqi Shi'ite politicians have a long history of relations with the Iranian government. The Iranian government has assiduously sought to maintain maximum influence over as many Iraqi factions as possible. By 2003, Iranian government was on good terms with nearly every Iraqi opposition group and it would have been remiss in foreign policy if it hadn't been.

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the American strategy seemed to involve repeating Tito's break with the Soviet Union by fostering conditions for Iraqi Shi'a (and Kurds) to break with the Iranian government. It might have worked, but Sunni terrorism seems to have succeeded in reinforcing those ties.

Kurds and Iraqi Shi'a are caught in a tug-of-war between the United States and Iran; they don't want to choose between their two patrons. Mr. Qubad Talabany, by referring to worries about a possible future American betrayal, is laying the groundwork for closer relations with Iran in the future, especially if we leave him in the lurch.

However, this does nothing to suggest to me that Mr. Talabani is an Iranian agent. Far from it. He does what is in his own interest, Iranian interests be damned (and for that matter, American interests be damned). Iraqi politics is tribal and patriarchal. Ever since 1991, Mr. Talabani has had two patrons, the United States and Iran, and he has ruthlessly played them off against each other. Iraqi politics is ruthlessly tribal and patriarchal; tribal leaders will do whatever it takes to maintain power and survive.

Was the United States taken for a ride by Iran? It's possible, but I doubt it. (We would certainly have been taken for a ride if we invade Iraq only to evacuate once we are ordered to leave by Iran!) I don't think it is particularly wise to declare as an enemy every person who has ever shaken Mr. Ahmadinejad's hand or kissed him on the cheek. In 2003, the United States started a race for influence among Iraqis against Iran. Yes, Iran has outmatched us in intelligence, influence, economic leverage, religious ties, and most other non-military levers of power. But is that a reason to give up the fight?

The entire Middle East is an uphill struggle with the terrorists wielding huge advantages over the United States in nearly every barometer of influence. The essential question is whether we should seek to fight this war and win it under disadvantageous conditions or whether we should concede the Middle Eastern battlefield to al-Qaeda and Iran and seek to hermetically seal Islam from the rest of the world. President George W. Bush made the strategic decision that the world of Islam could be redeemed. Although I don't disagree with his basic decision, I am less than happy about how he underestimated the difficulties we would face.

I'm one of those strange breed of men who both supported Iraq's liberation and expected it to be an even worse mess than it presently is. I knew very well that Saudi and Iranian clerics would incite horror in Iraq, and I warned our president of that before the invasion. However, I saw in the liberation of Najaf a hope for the re-internationalization of the Shi'ite branch of Islam, leading to a chance, however slim, that this would lead to the delegitimization of our enemies.

If we shut off everybody who has ever had dealings with the Iranian government, we are conceding complete and total defeat to Iran's theocratic regime. If one wants that, and if one wants to instigate the open military invasion of Iraq by all of its neighbors (which would happen if Saudi troops cross into Iraq, as has been threatened by King Abdullah!), retreating completely from Iraq and leaving the place to the mercy of our enemies would make a perverse kind of sense.

3/31/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

WiO: Then give our fair weather ally Turkey the option to leave it's illegally occupied lands of Kurdistan or face war.

How uninformed. NATO countries do not make war upon each other.

Kurdistan aint part of NATO, we warn our fair weather ally, but Kurdistan declares war on turkey

3/31/2007 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...


3/31/2007 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Michael Totten’s interview with an exiled (Iraq) Iranian Kurd might be instructive.

Meet Iran’s Revolutionary Liberals

Does this say more about conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan or Iran?

3/31/2007 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Alexis . . .
The essential question is whether we should seek to fight this war and win it under disadvantageous conditions or whether we should concede the Middle Eastern battlefield to al-Qaeda and Iran and seek to hermetically seal Islam from the rest of the world.

Alexis, I commend you for your honesty here. What I don't understand is where you -- or for that matter Wretchard -- see the forces of Iraqi moderation emerging from which the United States can ally with. Sure, there a tiny segments of liberal, secular Iraqis but they have no organized political party or, more importantly in the present context, militia. The entire Iraqi political structure which America has so foolishly committed to defending is only as good as its leadership, and that leadership is abyssmal, venal, Islamicist or all three.

US policy makers do not know where the Iraq mission is headed because its narratives have clearly unraveled, and its strategic purpose -- in the sense of attainable goals rather than fantasies -- is thoroughly muddled. Zalmay Khalilzad has departed and with him the fantasy of reconciliation between Sunni nationalists and the Shiite Islamists who "rule" from the Green Zone. If you believe otherwise, that there is indeed some "third force" or political bloc of moderates that can keep the state together, then could you give me a few names? How about political parties? What are the our specific political objectives right now in Iraq and how do we go about shaping those desired outcomes?

None of these questions can be answered without a thorough understanding of the players, parties and allegiances on the ground in Iraq.

3/31/2007 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...


Iraq's Sunni Arabs are dead men walking. At least half have already fled the country, and most of the rest will follow within 12-18 months. We couldn't stop this if we wanted to, and we don't want to. Our presence only makes for a "kinder, gentler ethnic cleansing", as Jim Dunnigan put it.

This also determines "where the Iraq mission is headed", borrowing your term. It is headed into Iran.

The war in Iraq will end when the terrorists can no longer hide out in, and operate from, Sunni Arab areas, due to the sudden dearth of such areas and of Sunni Arabs in particular.

This is very simple. American forces move into a Sunni Arab area and suppress the Sunni Arab militias. Then Shiite, and in some cases Kurdish, paramilitary forces move in and eliminate the Sunni Arab militias.

Then the American forces leave and Shiite, and in some cases Kurdish, death squads and militias move in and drive the Sunni Arabs out - either someplace else in Iraq, or out of Iraq entirely to Syria or Jordan.

Repeat over and over. This is working just fine. We're winnning the war against terror in Iraq because our Shiite and Kurdish allies are getting rid of the Sunni Arabs who have been 99% of the problem all along.

The war in Iraq will be over when they're gone, and that will be soon. It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

3/31/2007 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Like everyone, I've met guys who were personally betrayed, or felt they were.

Some guy in a bar with my Dad, talking about the Bay of Pigs.

Couple of guys in a place like this Belmont Club, in Jo-burg, and they reminded me we pulled our support for them in the face of Soviet Cuban divisions in Angola.

I must say, this pusillianimty on our part (USA), it did seem to piss both these guys off some, they even give evidence of bearing a grudge in the club as they re-live it.

3/31/2007 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


I do not know what the Bush administration’s objectives are in Iraq, and if I were told them, I’m not sure I would support them. So, I’ll tell you what my objectives are.

1. Foster rationalist schools of theology within Islam. Najaf is the premier seat of rationalist thinking not only in Shi’ite Islam, but Islam in general. The only rationalist Islamic institutions that come close to the power of al-Hawza are the various Sufi orders.

2. Foster conditions for the possible emergence of secular and/or liberal political parties in Iraq. The fact is, the Shi’ite ruling faction is falling apart and new political bloc is emerging with a nucleus of the National Accord and Fadhila. Furthermore, al-Sistani has signaled his dissatisfaction with his own creation, and his increasing distance from the politicians is a good sign.

3. My support for the present “surge” is based squarely upon my opinion of General Petraeus. He is one of the few Army generals who actually read Galula's book on counterinsurgency, and he is impressive. If it weren’t for his leadership, I would not be nearly so supportive of keeping American troops in Iraq. I am taking a “wait and see” approach to his strategy.

4. Whether we like it or not, the American military has become the militia representing those Iraqis without a militia. Although it’s not an envious position to be in, it also means that those Iraqis (however few) who have taken our side must not be abandoned to their fate under Islamist retribution. In particular, the United States has a political obligation to ensure the safety of translators and their immediate families.

5. So long as al-Qaeda remains in Iraq, our soldiers will almost certainly stay there. Republican rhetoric aside, there is little stomach in the Democratic Party to leaving any battlefield to al-Qaeda control. Although reports of winning or losing in al-Anbar are a fog, I do know that al-Qaeda operatives die at a faster rate in Iraq than our soldiers. Every Saudi who winds up dead or humiliated in Iraq means one more family of our enemy who feels grief instead of triumph.

6. Iraq has been a learning experience for the United States military. Just as the Moros unwittingly trained the American officer corps a century ago, the Marines of today have become some the best soldiers in urban warfare in the world. Although critics claim that jihadists are getting trained in Iraq, our soldiers are also getting trained. Let’s hope we are learning faster than they are.

7. Bases. A thorny subject. One of the most important features of Iraq are military bases from which it would be possible to project power into Iran and Saudi Arabia. I am caught between my basic isolationist aversion to maintaining military bases on foreign territory and my understanding of just how strategic bases such as H-1, H-2, and H-3 are. If I had my choice, I’d rather give up bases on Okinawa.

I do not dispute that the Bush administration’s narrative has unraveled. And I have little doubt that my narrative is the type to elicit horror against my seeming imperialism and foster conspiracy theories among Middle Easterners. But you asked. So I tell you. Although I support the war, I was (and remain) bitterly opposed to using the perceived existence of weapons of mass destruction as a casus belli.

Democracy is a messy business, and sometimes people elect abysmal, venal, and bigoted politicians. Just look to the example of Louisiana, where one campaign slogan was “Vote for the crook. It’s important”.

3/31/2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...


The reason for the slogan "Vote for the crook. It's important." is that the crook was running against a Nazi. But maybe that's your point.

4/01/2007 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

gary rosen:

The reason for the slogan "Vote for the crook. It's important." is that the crook was running against a Nazi. But maybe that's your point.


4/01/2007 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Cruel said...

The "Kurdish" lands the Turks illegally occupy belong to the Armenians. Having the Kurds kill off the indigenous population does not make it the sovereign lands of the Kurds - or, if it does, then whatever the Turks do to the Kurds is justified, so long as they win.

4/01/2007 09:41:00 PM  

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