McCain has heralded the recent dip in American casualties as proof that what we’re doing over there is working. A conservative chorus regularly repeats that claim. Insofar as our mission in Iraq is soldiers not dying, we are completing that mission. You know else would help with that? Bringing them home. So I guess the mission is something else.
It is really difficult to understand why we’re in Iraq, because the only reason that makes much sense is oil, and we’re told repeatedly that’s not it. Last I heard, we were seeking a political solution to stabilize and democratize Iraq, and then our troops can come home. Which makes today’s news so bad.
The Shia/Sunni conflict gathers most of the news, as it does spill the most blood, but as I’ve argued in the past, the Kurds form the most organized and potentially powerful partner in the Iraqi triad. Since the no-fly zone was implemented in 1993, the Kurds have enjoyed a largely uninterrupted era of peace and stability during which to govern and arm themselves. They have reached the point that they are even pursuing foreign tourism.
Kirkuk’s sovereignty remains an open question. This city is at once the nerve center of Iraqi petroleum and the “Kurdish Jerusalem.” Its status was supposed to be determined by now, or at least the process to begin determining it was to have started , but it hasn’t. Think of it as Jerusalem with oil.
A truly stable Iraq requires a resolution that satisfies the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish populations of Iraq. While the first two certainly struggle to get along, the third has quietly yet consistently refused to entertain compromise on this question. Though the Kurds haven’t shot anybody over this yet, the most discplined fighting force in Iraq belongs to a group that shows little interest in negotiating. If the Kurds truly feel aggrieved here, we’re not talking IEDs on roadways…we’re talking organized brigades with artillery capability. And we’re talking Americans caught in the middle of — possibly forced into taking sides during — yet another front on the Iraqi Civil War.
No surge is going to fix this. Heck, no army is going to fix this. Maybe some ace diplomats can…but I know our soldiers can’t. That’s not their training, and it’s not their job. So let’s bring them home, because the magic solution isn’t coming anytime soon. Send in the negotiators. A bad ending for a negotiator is no deal…the bad ending for too many of our soldiers is a coffin. Which would you choose?