Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

All the king's horses and all the king's men...

According to the London Times, the Baker Commission (James A. Baker III) is going to propose dividing Iraq into three "highly autonomous" regions. I guess it worked for Caesar (omnia gallia in tres partes divisa est). Seriously thought, what do the Citizens think? I think that keeping Iraq intact is, by itself, a silly goal, insofar as its borders are arbitrary and were imposed from without by the last set of English-speaking conquerors. Still, it seems a total admission of defeat, doesn't it?


Dr. Strangelove said...

No doubt the Turks will be thrilled.

Anonymous said...

Breaking the country into 3 zones has a couple of problems and a coupe of possible outcomes. I am not sure if I am for or against such a prospect. Either is the Administration for that matter. No matter what you, the outcome looks ugly.

The insurgency: We dont' know what they are fighting for, really. Is it real-estate, philosophy, enthic cleansing,or to get the US out? I don't think they are that organized nor are they all fighting for the same reasons. So trying to quell the violence is a huge problem. Many of them, I suspect, are not Iraqis, but "visitors" from abroad. Nice, Al-Qaeda, Hizbollah trained visitors.

Oil: Oil is located in the Shia dominated south and the Kurdish dominated north. That leaves the minority Sunni in the middle with nothing. And they are already pretty riled up. If you broke the country into 3, you'd have to have some sort of resource sharing so that the Sunni's could have an oil revenue stream. But they won't go for that. They'd want Kirkuk at least.

Turkey and Iran: For obvious reasons Turkey would not be terribly happy with such a deal. The Turks are already raising the specter of the Green Belt plan which sought to pull their country apart by giving pieces of it to Armenians and Kurds, leaving it about a third of its size today. This plan was suggested with the fall of the Ottoman Empire and was seen as a Western plot against the core of the empire (i.e. Turkey). Turkish commentators that I have read are talking about a "resurgence" of this plot today. In fact, some see EU membership as yet another attempt at influencing Turkey's territorial integrity and sovereignty. May sound silly to us, but to them it is real.

The more autonomous Northern Iraq becomes, the more jittery Turkey becomes. And make no mistake, the Kurds are becoming more bold in their assertions of a state, outlawing the Iraqi flag, conducting passport checks at their "border", etc. As it is, the Turkish military is resisting the temptation to chase PKK terrorists into Northern Iraq, which has become a haven of sorts. And yes, the PKK is indeed a terrorist group, although a minority among Turkish Kurds who, FYI, don't speak the same language as the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, or Syria. The TU military is fighting a true terrorism war in the East. I am told by Turks that their conscripts are sent to the East bas cannon fodder.

Now, there is nothing of great value in Eastern Turkey, so some more liberal Turks figure that the area is no great loss. Let the Kurds have it and be done. But that would be a very small majority of people, however.

Iran: What can you say. Split off the South and it becomes and Iranian satellite. Already, Iran has its tentacles in that region.

Two possible outcomes:
Yugoslavia or Lebanon: You split Iraq and you get a Yugoslav system where you have 3 countries that cooperate when it is convenient and that are closely monitored by NATO and the UN. You other small zones want autonomy. The regional stability is tenuous but growing. Ethnic rivalries are still strongly present, but the death and destruction has halted while they work on making peace with the past.

Lebanon/Quasi Lebanon: You keep the country as one, with ethnic groups nicely but naturally segregated and create a federation headed by a tripartite presidency or some other form of power sharing arrangement. This will work for awhile, but will more than likely disintegrate into a fierce civil war. But then again, who cares because that is what it is now and better they be killing each other than us, right? Well, yes and no. Once that civil war breaks out, everyone from Iran to Syria dogpiles in and you destabilize an area that is already a powder keg, only now they have nukes. Don't laugh at the idea. Iran is on its way to them. Egypt is now talking about building nuclear power stations and Turkey has 2 plants planned. Of course, these are for generating electricity and will be constructed above board under UN supervision.

The big plus: US gets out with dignity- a true Rumsfeld/Nixon/Kissenger win.

If out goal is to get out, great. If our goal is to create a sustainable state, forget it. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to an academic discussion of Kurdish dialects  (it doesn't go as far as US West's Turkish friends in asserting that Kurds in various places speak "different languages.")

As for splitting up Iraq. It probably should have been done back in 1919 - along with implementing that Green Belt plan which sounds pretty good to me (I'm not Turkish so I don't care if Attaturk et al would have gotten to maintain their old imperial pretentions).

But it may be too late now (in both cases). The oil thing is a sticky business for sure. But of course, there are already three Iraqi rump states for practical purposes. Recognizing the reality on the ground with international law is generally a good idea.

What's more, I've heard that Iran is far from enthused about the idea of an independent Kurdistan or a Sunni State near it's border. They may not like what these three states do to each other either. Who wants to live next to Yugslavia (or Lebanon)?

This may be a threat to Iran - back off (in Iraq, on nukes etc) or we'll pull out of Iraq suddenly and let you clean up the ungodly mess we've made. 

// posted by RBR

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, RBR. The writer actually points out something that often alludes people in the linguistic community Dialect vs. language. I quote from your link:

" While we may concede that SIL is reporting on ethnolinguistic and sociolinguistic difference, we should not accept that low intelligibility of spoken and/or written language between communities is incontrovertible evidence for the existence of distinct languages. This is not a trivial disagreement, because while speaker attitudes can change and will often differ from individual to individual within a community, the linguistic structures do not change very readily and hence are the primary phenomena to be accounted for."

There are several schools of thought on when something crosses over from dialect to language. The most predominate are those who see differences in grammar and structure as telltale signs of a language vs. dialect. More practical users tend to use the "i know it when I see it" approach. Which goes something like "I can't understand a word you're saying. It sounds like English, but I am not getting any of it."- The feeling I get when I first start listening to Scotts, Virgin Islanders, or even African Americans when they get going with Ebonics.

In fact, we just had this whole conversation about this when in the middle of a staff meeting someone misspoke and called Chavacano a language. It's actually a type of creole Spanish spoken on one island in the Philippines.

I had an interesting conversation with a Kurdish colleague who speaks Sorani (dialect of Kurdish). Apparently a blind outside reviewer (i.e. native speaker of Kurdish something or other) had looked at some of my colleague's work and offered critiques, part of the normal process we go through. However, my colleague was dissatisfied and wanted to know who the blind reviewer was and if he spoke Sorani or some other type of Kurdish. It was evident from my colleague's response that he deemed those who used a different dialect unqualified to review what he was doing. I can only take his word for it that he was correct since I am not the expert.

The point underlying all of this is that Kurdishness for now is enough. But once tied together in some type of a state, would it still be enough or would you see Syrian Kurds and Turkish Kurds arguing with Iraqi Kurds, etc.

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

Albanian has two main dialects, Gheg (northern) and Tosk (southern). The Kosovars used to use Gheg, but now use the other in TV/radio to express solidarity with the Albanian "homeland." Serbian and Croatian are dialects that are called separate languages because they use different alphabets. They are not easy to distinguish otherwise. Language differences can always be used to exploit differences, if that is desired. They can also be suppressed (Standard German, Standard Italian) if that is desired. Languisitc politics are a symptom, not a cause, of divisions. 

// posted by LTG