The Campaign Spot

Iraq and The Campaign Trail

On the Democratic side, Conn Carroll notes that John Edwards finds himself on the outside looking in as the Senate discusses Iraq: “Considering how flat his attacks on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for not leading on Iraq fell during the Dem debate on 6/3, and the indirect swipes Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) took at him for criticizing what those with actual votes were doing in the Senate, maybe a campaign semi-suspension tour focusing solely on poverty is just about the only counter-programming available to John Edwards while the Senate takes up the DoD authorization bill.”

Quin Hillyer wants the administration to try some new ideas – quickly – to demonstrate the benefits of keeping the troops there until the job is done, and the potentially horrific consequences of leaving.
Here’s something I would spotlight as a factor to consider in future policy moves: The Kurdish region.
Even Andrew Sullivan gets this:

If we rescue Kurdistan, moreover, it does retrieve a sliver of the original hope.
They will be free of Saddam; they will be a Muslim democracy deeply grateful to the United States; they will be a Sunni society that is not hostile to the West; their economy could boom; their freedoms could flourish further. The Turks and the Kurds can become an arc of hope for some Persians who want to live in a free society and lack an obvious regional role model.

Actually, their economy could continue to boom. National Geographic did a fascinating portrait of the region a while back. (A great multimedia presentation can be found here.) How much does this image contrast with the footage of Iraq played and re-played on the cable news networks?

With more than 75,000 square feet (7,000 square meters) of space for merchandise, the Mazi Supermarket—Iraq’s largest—draws customers from all over the country to the prospering Kurdish city of Duhok. Anchor store in a growing megamall, the Mazi adjoins an amusement park that includes a spin-and-tilt ride, video games, and air hockey. But beneath the fun lies a painful chapter in Kurdish history: The complex was built on the site of a former Iraqi military facility where Kurds were imprisoned and tortured during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Or this image?

Preparing to lead all-female units of the Kurdish militia, or peshmerga, women officers study military strategy at a base near Suleimaniya. During the Kurds’ long struggle against Saddam Hussein, women at first worked behind the front lines building camps, tending the wounded, and spying on the enemy. But beginning in 1996 they officially took up arms as members of the Peshmerga Force for Women. “Kurdistan is totally different from the rest of Iraq,” says Parwen Babaker, herself a minister of industry in the region. “Women ministers, judges, and soldiers are exercising an equivalent role as men.”

I understand the complete exhaustion with the war in Iraq, and the lack of faith in the Iraqi government. But does America say to this emerging free society, “to hell with you, you’re on your own”?
Hillary has indicated that she would keep some (70,000, maybe?) troops in Iraq to, among other missions, protect the Kurds. Getting the Democrats to acknowledge that the U.S. has vital national security interests in Iraq would help clarify this debate… and maybe just drive a wedge between the Democrats everybody-out-now and some-troops-stay-for-a-while factions.

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