As the US continues is preoccupation with old school wars, the rest of the world embraces economic “war” through the notions of trade and profit. Enemies don’t become friends, but they learn to get along when they realize that there are profits to be made. For political leaders, profits translate into a happy population, with jobs, healthcare, food and other creature comforts readily available. Iraq, the Kurds, Turkey and the various factions just negotiated a solution to fighting in Kirkuk. Despite the protestations of the super Neos like John Bolton, and the US military, clever tribal leaders negotiated a peaceful end to what could have been a very bloody battle. They all decided not to kill each other because Kirkuk is an oil rich area and they all need the money.

During the Cold War, Turkey was one of our very good friends. Of course this was all because of geography. We wanted to put listening posts on their borders to spy on the Soviet Union. Nonetheless it was a good relationship. After the cold war ended and we didn’t need them anymore, the relationship cooled. We still kept our airbase there and still kept nuclear bombs there, but the relationship wasn’t so friendly. Turkey like many countries in the region has all sorts of issues, most related to different “brands” of Islam. We’ve never negotiated well through the different sects and most Americans don’t even understand the differences. Short analogy: Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, only on steroids. Christian and Muslim wars were rampant from 1095 to 1588! As different as the various sects are within the Muslim world, they only unify against an outside threat. Once that outside threat is gone, then they fight amongst themselves. Look at the Sunni’s and Shias in Iraq for an example. Our current relationship with Turkey is a function of a lot of things. The cold war ended and we didn’t really “need” Turkey anymore. So they lost their special status and don’t really understand why. The US’s on again off again relationship with the Kurds scares Turkey. The last thing they want is a larger group of Kurds in an autonomous state right next door. They have enough problems with the Kurds who are citizens of Turkey. Turkey believes that the attempted coup last year was orchestrated by Fethullah Gulen. Gulen lives in the US and the US has protected him from standing trial in Turkey. Looks like we’re going to lose another ally in the region.

Reading foreign country’s newspapers offer a perspective on what the leaders of the country think is important. I’ve long enjoyed reading the Tehran Times, not because I believe everything they say, but to try and get some perspective on what they think is important. The articles and statements coming out over the Kurd independence movement is interesting. When Iran comes to Iraq’s aid on Kurdish independence, bells and whistles need to be going off in your head. Iraq and Iran are historically not good friends. When no country except Israel has publicly endorsed the Kurdish movement, smart foreign policy folks need to take heed. Does anyone really think that the virtues of supporting the Kurds is worth the problems that Kurdish independence will cause to the region? Kurdish independence might sound like a nice idea. Remember though that there is no “land” for them that they get to just become a country in. The land in question belongs to three countries. Three countries that don’t want an independent Kurdish state. This would be like if we somehow decided to support an independent Mexican state in the US with pieces of Texas. California, New Mexico and Arizona.

The US has a long history of “using” the Kurds and then pulling the plug on them. The West did it to them after WWI. Kissinger did it in 1975 once we didn’t need them. After the first Gulf War we did it to them again. The challenge is that the Kurds live in four different countries, none of which are excited about a large independent Kurdish state.