Carroll Andrew Morse, whose Tech Central Station article arguing for a partition of Iraq I've previously linked to comes back to Tech Central Station with a new essay addressing objections to a partition of Iraq into multiple smaller states.
The argument in favor of starting with mini-democracies is rooted in an intuitive understanding of organizational dynamics. It is easier to organize 10 people to work together towards a common goal than it is to organize 100; it is to organize 100 than it is 1,000, etc. An important facet of this is the element of leadership. There are many people capable of managing their own lives, a group of one. Some subset from that group is capable of managing a group of 10. From that subset, a smaller subset is capable of managing a group of 100. There are probably very few people capable of managing a group of 25 million. The best way to find qualified leaders is to pick from people who have had success in managing smaller groups.
Morse points out that violence is just as possible within states as between them.
The past 10 years of history -- Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and now the Sudan, to name the most obvious cases -- is full of examples demonstrating that intrastate violence is neither intrinsically better nor worse than its interstate counterpart. Intrastate violence can be sadistically efficient when one side uses its control of the government to gain terrible advantage. This dynamic is a large part of the story of the Rwandan massacre, where the Hutus carefully used state machinery to plan and implement the massacre of 800,000 of their Tutsi countrymen. The Tutsi cry for help was ignored, in large part, because the Tutsis had no government to speak through (while the Hutus held a seat on the United Nations Security Council). Is the world comfortable with placing certain groups in Iraq in the same disadvantaged position as Rwanda's Tutsis?
I'd go out on a limb here and guess that more people have died in the last 10 years from intra-state political violence between factions than from inter-state wars.
Morse acknowledges that Turkey's reaction poses a problem but he questions whether Turkey's government will see intervention against an independent Kurdistan as worth the harm it would do to Turkish ambitions to join the EU.
Turkey, neither a dictatorship nor a true liberal democracy, does present a challenge to this scenario. Turkey fears that the formation of a Kurd-dominated state from the remains of Iraq might encourage the 12 million Kurds living within Turkish borders to seek their own state. Turkey, according to the armchair realists, can be expected to do whatever is necessary to stop any breakup of Iraq. The armchair realists, however, too quickly ignore realist constraints on Turkish action. The long-standing goal of Turkey's foreign policy is membership in the European Union. Is Turkey prepared to effectively kill that effort by becoming the non-democratic occupier of another democracy? Furthermore, is the Turkish government confident that the 12 million Kurds will sit quietly on the sidelines during an invasion? An invasion is just as likely to exacerbate Kurdish nationalism as it is to quell it.
Morse argues that if either Syria or Iran invaded the Iraqi Kurdish zone that allies (obviously the United States) of the Kurds could help the Kurds retaliate by seizing the Kurdish territories of either of those countries. Though the US would most likely be very unwillingto help the Kurds seize and annex a chunk of what is not part of sovereign Turkish territory.
The Turks might feel compelled to intervene anyway if their own 12 million Kurds started rebelling to secede from Turkey. But what does it say about the West that the Western powers have been willing to collude with the governments of 4 different states to deny the national aspirations of a distinct linguistic and ethnic group?
My own guess is that Iraq may well descend into civil war and the issue of whether to partition will, at that point, have to be taken far more seriously than it has so far. As soon as the body count from the civil war gets high enough the interests of neighboring states will begin to weigh less heavily and the need to pull the combating factions in Iraq apart will become so compelling that partition will become probable. How the Turks and Turkish Kurds will respond is hard to guess. But NATO (or at least its current make-up) may well become a casualty of an Iraqi civil war.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 July 01 05:01 PM MidEast Iraq Partition|