The Road to a Better Middle East Future Runs Through Erbil

What do we do now? What we should’ve done years ago. Establish our Middle East Bastion in Kurdistan. Train and arm the Kurds to protect themselves and us. The Shia dominated Iraqi Government has passed a non-binding resolution for Americans to leave their country. Given how our last Iraq withdrawal turned out, this can’t even be considered. However, it gives us another chance to exert control in a strategic part of the world. As we pointed out in our 2014 & 2015 “Shhhhhhh” Middle East posts, turmoil in the Moslem World has brought problems to the fore we can’t ignore. Radical Muslims are attacking everyone disagreeing with their dogmas worldwide. There are threats to the world’s oil supply. Mass migrations of the displaced and the possible destruction of Israel. The extermination of minorities demands our interest, whether we want to engage or not. Even Trump had to realize his withdrawal from the Kurdish areas along the Turkey-Syria border was boneheaded. In the end, he had to keep troops in Syria after all. We can reverse this significant mistake by making a move to Kurdistan. The Shia dominated Government in Baghdad would hardly risk the breakup of their country. In any case, they probably would prefer we stay close by as an offset to Iran and to prevent a re-emergence of ISIS. 

We realize this is a very unpopular idea in some quarters. Across the political spectrum from Rand Paul to Bernie Sanders, the proposition of involvement in areas “far from home” violates American principles. They say we should stay at home and mind our own business just as the founding fathers handled things. Of course, this was never historically true. In just the 1st quarter-century, after the ratification of our Constitution, we were involved in hostilities beyond our borders. Mostly they were over commerce and free seas. We even established a Mediterranean Naval Squadron and, for most of our history, maintained it. We were also involved in regime change in a foreign country. As we established in our series on “More,” trade is one of the three ways you can get it. The idea we can retreat into a shell and let some else handle the world’s problems is fanciful. Do we really think Iran, Russia, and China have our interests at heart? 

Today it is even more important we take a significant role in keeping the routes for trade and ideas as open as possible. As we’ve pointed out, humans are experiencing massive access to”More.” This is being accomplished without resorting to taking it from others. In fact, taking is becoming obsolete and morally indefensible. We are at a point where want of basic necessities is on the verge of elimination. Trade and innovation will continue to lift mankind if we only let it. 

Unfortunately, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, we still have dictatorial regimes claiming they can provide “More” with stability. Yet, to a more considerable extent, they dominate decision making in their nations, the result is having less. Any security they provide is at the cost of massive repression. Instilling fears of foreign invasion or claiming regional dominance will result in “More” are the lies they tell their people to maintain control. While sanctions can put economic pressure on these outlying regimes, they are mainly borne by the general population. Those at the top are little affected. For instance, in Venezuela, the people in control are eating fine, while the rest do without.

This means we have to pose a more direct threat to those who for reasons of distraction, regional hegemony, religious dogma, or ego lifting conquest menace others. You have to be in the neighborhood to be credible. You can’t deter North Korea from San Francisco. Now, this doesn’t mean massive forces stationed everywhere in the world, or invading countries thinking we are going to force them into the modern world. The endless war in Afghanistan should be enough warning. We should base our forces only in places where the people not only want you there but are willing to fight alongside us. 

Local bases should be used offensively, but not in the way you might think. We softened up the old USSR not with artillery barrages, but radio broadcasts. The young people, while listening to music they loved, got healthy doses of truth and an idea of how the capitalist world was living. The end of the Soviet Union came not from bombs. Still, the realization their system couldn’t keep up and could never provide what the capitalists had. We need places from which to decimate truth by defeating the blocking of information. We can’t make people join the modern world, but we can provide the building blocks for them to want to go in that direction. This may even include weapons to offset oppression. 

This why basing in Kurdistan base makes so much sense. The people want us there. We know they will fight alongside us because they already have. The Kurds seem far more accepting of the modern world than many of their Muslim neighbors. Without doing a single thing, we would place everyone in the neighborhood on the horns of their dilemma. Iran would have to gauge how tough they could be on the Kurds living there. One of the first actions Qasem Soleimani participated in was suppressing an Iranian Kurdish uprising. Do the mullahs use a heavy hand in their Kurdish Areas and risk further alienating them and bringing forth cross border aid from their Kurdish brethren? Leaving the Kurds alone risks the area becoming a safe haven for Iranian dissidents. Either way, Iran would be under real pressure. With a significant Kurdish minority they’ve mistreated, Turkey would be on the horns of a similar dilemma. Russia might feel highly exposed in Syria in an inferior military position to an implied US, Israel, and Kurdish alliance supporting anti-Assad Arabs. If the Russians get wobbly, Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies would be exposed. Who would all of these have to deal with to settle the area down? The good old USA. This could be accomplished with just some trainers and air controllers on the ground. 

Taking a longer view, Kurdistan provides a lodestar for truth and knowledge. Not only sending information over the airwaves and internet to the area but as a seat of Muslim learning. This is why we proposed the support of higher education in Erbil. Just as Catholicism had its reformation, so might the Muslim World. It needs a safe spot to incubate. 

This is just the type of strategic positioning we need to protect a shrinking world. For those including our present President that think we can quickly go home, if not this strategic thinking, what is your plan to advance the world?

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