I blogged just the other day about Peter Galbraith's article in the New York Review of Books, wherein he advocates for a redeployment of our troops to Kurdish Iraq. I generally favor that idea as I'd like for us to accomplish something morally decent in what time we have left in the country (such as protecting the Kurds) but I don't honestly know if it's a good idea or not, or even if it's feasible. And I think that for balance it's a good idea for me to cite to others who think that it isn't, such as Eric Martin over at TIA:
Also, can we stop talking about Kurdistan as a viable destination for any such ill-advised residual force? We would be putting ourselves in a massive lose-lose situation - stuck, hapless, in the middle of a conflict that would pit a NATO ally against our potential patrons (and part of the country we just "liberated"). If we side with our NATO allies, the Kurds won't be the most hospitable of hosts. Yet if we side with the Kurds, we would alienate a country that is far more essential to a wide range of US interests - beyond its NATO status even.
Neither side would really accept neutrality either, especially inaction from such proximity. This counts moreso for the Turks, who we would be relying on to provide routes of re-supply for our Kurdistan garrisoned troops (already a shaky proposition given Turkey's likely anger at our decision to move north regardless). If not for the Turkish routes, the re-supply would have to run through Iran (uh, not gonna happen), or up through the entire expanse of Iraq (where we would have just left due to the difficulty of occupation).
Not to mention the fact that our presence would likely inspire the Kurds to overreach in connection with controversial issues like the status of Kirkuk - and even PKK-related activities in Turkey and/or Iran.
Come to think of it, it would be such a colossally bad decision that I fully expect the Bush administration to make it. Kurdistan, here we come.
Eric Martin opposes any redeployment that leaves a substantial number of American troops in Iraq, and he's especially opposed to a Kurdish redeployment as some panacea that will preserve for us some coherant purpose to our presence in Iraq.
I for one am undecided. I don't know how the Kurds will survive as an autonomous power once we leave, as they will be largely surrounded by hostile or indifferent nations. Then again, maybe we can't do anything about that even if we want to. I don't know that the Turks will be so unaccepting of our presence in Kurdistan that it will irreparably harm our relationship with Turkey as a NATO ally. Then again, maybe it will. And more importantly, maybe the Kurds wouldn't even want us in their country, mucking around with Iran. I think since this meme is relatively new to the debate on Iraq, it's best to wait for even more informed voices to weigh in before I come to a firmer opinion.
That being said, it's possible that my exploration of various possiblities in Iraq may leave a reader confused as to where I stand. Let me put it this way: if there is some mission that can be saved in Iraq by redeploying our troops, but in such a way that it vastly reduces casualties and doesn't destroy the country even more, then I'm in favor of it. But if there is significant doubt that any plan can work, then we should just get out, completely and as quickly as possible. If I favor what appears to be a senseless deployment in anyway, it is only because I know that-politically-it's a big first-step towards complete withdrawal. The clock is ticking for us in Iraq. It may be possible to delay complete withdrawal and salvage something by adopting a much more limited mission, but a final end to our mission there is inevitable and-I believe-not as far away as many people still think.