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Why the U.S. Shouldn’t Back Kurdish Independence

Amitai Etzioni wants Trump to support Kurdish independence:

In either case, the United States should support a Kurdish state. True, such a move will run into opposition from the governments in Baghdad and Ankara. However, the Kurds have more than earned the right to independence. Moreover, such a move will help reassure other U.S. allies in the region, in Europe and in Southeast Asia that the United States will stand by them rather than abandon them, as the United States has done repeatedly to the Kurds in the past.

An independent Kurdish state wouldn’t just “run into opposition” from regional governments. It would be violently opposed by some of its new neighbors and denied recognition by the rest. It would be a landlocked country dependent on the goodwill of its neighbors, and at least some its neighbors would want to strangle the new state in its infancy. Assuming that the current leadership of the KRG would become the de facto government of a new Kurdistan, the U.S. would be involved in creating a corrupt, authoritarian state.

The “reassurance” argument for doing this is the weakest part of all. U.S. allies in other parts of the world won’t feel reassured by this, since it will mean that the U.S. will be taking on one more dependent client that it will be expected to defend. Regional allies and clients won’t be reassured by U.S. support for carving out a new country. Turkey and Iraq will presumably be furious and will actively resist the effort, others will see it as more unwelcome Western interference in the region, and any allied government that has its own problems with separatist movements will refuse to recognize the new state. Backing a Kurdish state would be one more unnecessary headache for the U.S. that serves no discernible American interest, and would almost certainly cause additional instability and violence in a region that already suffers from too much.

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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