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BHL and the Exceptionally Weak Case for Kurdistan

Bernard-Henri Levy doesn’t like the widespread international opposition to the upcoming independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan:

The timidity of the international community in the face of the Sept. 25 referendum on an independent Kurdistan is a trifecta of shame, absurdity, and historic miscalculation.

As usual, Levy substitutes outrage for argument. He goes through the objections to the referendum, but he scoffs at them instead of answering any of them. Would it risk more instability and violence? BHL’s response: who cares when there’s already plenty of instability and violence? Would its neighbors see the separation of Iraqi Kurdistan as a threat to their own territorial integrity? BHL replies: Silly pundits, the referendum applies only in Iraq! Like any good Western enthusiast for partitioning other countries, BHL isn’t concerned with the unforeseen and potentially negative consequences of creating a new state at the expense of others.

It doesn’t seem to matter to him that the Turkish, Iranian, and Iraqi governments won’t accept the outcome and together have the means to do serious harm to Kurds in Iraq. He isn’t interested in the strong possibility that a newly independent Kurdistan would not be recognized by most of the world’s other governments. Like a child, BHL insists that they deserve independence and therefore ought to have it regardless of what happens next.

The chief danger of establishing a new Kurdish state is that it would be violently opposed by at least three of its new neighbors, and the people of Iraqi Kurdistan would be the ones to suffer as a result. This is why the case in favor of doing this is so exceptionally weak. Proponents of a new Kurdish state never take seriously any of the obvious problems and obstacles, but just wave them away or treat them as unimportant. BHL does much the same, and lamely accuses critics of being neo-colonialists because they are opposed to redrawing the boundaries of Iraq once again.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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