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Calling Mario Loyola


Yesterday, Mario, you approvingly quoted former Undersectretary of Defense Dov Zakheim’s assertion that what we ought to do in Iraq is to get our troops out of the middle of  “a bloody civil war that the United States cannot bring to an end”—and to do so in part by redeploying the troops to Kurdistan “to prevent a conflagration between Turks and Kurds.”

What is the thinking here? The Bush administration has advanced, variously, three rationales for placing our troops in Iraq. A simple checklist suggests that none applies to Kurdistan or Turkey. To wit:

1) We went into Iraq to eliminate a threat to the United States posed by weapons of mass destruction. No one, anywhere, suggests that such threat is posed by Kurdistan or Turkey.

2) We went into Iraq to topple a mad, wicked, blood-drenched tyrant who appeared to be offering succour to terrorists. Kurdistan? Turkey? Whatever their failings, they (with Jordan) possess the most humane—or perhaps the least inhumane—governments in the region. And neither has patience for terrorists.

3) We went into Iraq to establish some semblance of democracy. Kurdistan and Turkey already possess fully functioning democracies.

Yes, there are tensions between Kurdistan and Turkey—dangerous tensions. But why isn’t that a problem for…Kurdistan and Turkey? Why assume, as yet another American burden—an American military burden—a problem that has no direct bearing on American interests? To put the matter another way, can anyone construct an argument for an American presence in Kurdistan that wouldn’t apply with equal force to, for example, Sri Lanka? Or to East Timor?

You and Dov Zakheim are mighty intelligent, obviously, so some form of answer must indeed exist. While I await it, my best to Miami.


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