Writing for Condé Nast Portfolio.com Denis Johnson has a great piece on Kurdistan as a peaceful boomtown. Kurdistan stands apart from Iraq and is better off for it.
Bloody insurgency and sectarian strife tear at the country of Iraq, but Iraqi Kurdistan—three northern “governorates’’ under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government, with its own language, flag, and national anthem, its own Parliament and its own army—prospers relatively free of violence. The Kurdistan region is open for business. With the buzz of dealmaking and the ringing cell phones and the smell of oil literally in the air, you get a sense, sitting in the Atrium, of being caught up in this planet’s biggest game, of touching the skirts of power and intrigue and life-changing wealth. (Read more about what lies beyond the Iraqi oil boom.)
The Kurdistan region is Paul Wolfowitz’s wet dream: maybe not a beacon of democracy, but certainly a red-hot ember—peaceful, orderly, secular, democratic, wildly capitalist, and sentimentally pro-American—afloat on an ocean of oil.
I think Kurdistan provides an ignored lesson: Ethnic and religious homogeneity brings peace. This runs counter to the prevailing multicultural mythology which our liberal elites would have us believe.
If you can get permission to cruise around and get thru the checkpoints in Iraq then you can see a very rapidly growing, peaceful, and happy country.
On off days we get around Erbil meeting friendly folks and shooting them, and Susan asks about the “situation on the ground” and “future prospects” and shoots the whole city, while I take notes and wonder what happened to the war.
“It’s safe here, you can go anywhere”—by which they mean wherever you find yourself in this region the size of Maryland, you’ll be safe. But whether you can actually get through the checkpoints without papers from the Ministry of Security, that’s quite another matter. With its zealous and largely successful antiterrorist measures and its capitalist fever and as-yet-incomplete system of laws, the country serves up a blend of Orwellian, penitentiary-style security and Wild West laissez-faire: no speed limits, no driver’s insurance, no D.U.I. traps—there’s very little drinking and apparently zero drug abuse—loose regulations for firearms, and homesteaders’ rights to rural land; also—at least while the parliament wrestles with the question of government revenue—no taxes. Of any kind. But to board a plane leaving Erbil, passengers must pass two vehicle checkpoints, four electronic screenings and pat-downs, and a final bag-and-body search planeside.
If we let the Kurds split off and form their own country there will be one country in the Middle East whose populace unabashedly love America.
And the Kurds love Americans. Love, love. Investors swarm in from all over the globe, and foreigners are common in Erbil, but if you mention tentatively and apologetically that you’re American, a shopkeeper or café owner is likely to take you aside and grip your arm and address you with the passionate sincerity of a drunken uncle: “I speak not just for me but all of Kurdish people. Please bring your United States Army here forever. You are welcome, welcome. No, I will not accept your money today, please take these goods as my gift to America.”
If we force the Kurds to bow to the Baghdad government their love of America will evaporate. After all the massive screw-up of US policy in Iraq could we at least get this one thing right? Probably not. But we really ought to let the Kurds stay independent of the Arabs in Iraq.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 May 28 08:19 PM MidEast Iraq Partition|