What about ISIS and the Kurds?

Kurdish women fightersBY ED FELIEN

U.S. military involvement since World War II has been an unbroken chain of failed  adventures meant to prop up dictators, overthrow democracies and fight for the interests of Big Business and Big Oil: The Belgian Congo, Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.
But, now, for the first time in my memory, the U.S. might actually be going to war against an enemy worth fighting.
But, we should remember T.S. Eliot’s warning: “The last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”
The U.S. is going to war with ISIS, not necessarily to save the Kurds in Kobani—though that struggle does provide a great positive photo op, but to save the vital interests of Exxon-Mobil and get back the refineries that ISIS has captured.
Before there was a heroic defense of Kobani by the Women’s Militia, before the Kurds became the first military force that did not back down in the face of ISIS, the U.S. was already beating the drums of war.
To hate someone enough to want to kill them, you must, first, dehumanize them. They must become “the other.”  They must be seen as less than human, a species that if allowed to propagate would contaminate the gene pool. In order to want to kill ISIS, the American people must come to believe that it would be a gift to humanity to wipe them off the face of the earth.
I am old enough to remember the dehumanization propaganda that sanctioned the killing of Germans, Japanese, North Koreans, Vietnamese, Communists, Latin Americans and, now, Arabs and Iranians.
President Obama, in his speech before the U.N. in September, said, “The future belongs to those who build, not to those who destroy,” and the brutality of ISIS “forces us to look into the heart of darkness.”
The most publicized and well-known examples of the brutality of ISIS are the public and videotaped recordings of the beheadings of British and American citizens caught behind the lines. Certainly a public beheading is a horrific act.  But the botched execution in Oklahoma by lethal injection that led to a prisoner’s painful minutes of suffering from a heart attack—seemed, even to the White House, inhumane. And our closest ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, just before Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit in September, executed 22 people, eight of them by beheading.  According to Amnesty International, four members of one family were beheaded for receiving drugs.
We are told the treatment of women by ISIS is further proof of their inhumanity, but, once again, Saudi Arabia is on par with or even excels ISIS in misogyny.
ISIS wants to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Sunni Muslim territories.  Could that be the reason they are outside the pale of human existence? But some folks in Scotland wanted to become an independent country, and some people in Catalonia want to secede from Spain, and, yet, no one regards them as subhuman.
But if ISIS secedes it will destroy the integrity of Iraq. The drawing of the boundary line for the nation of Iraq was done by the French and British when they were dividing up colonial spoils after World War I. It was done without any regard for the cultural or ethnic resident groups. The Kurds in the north have established a semi-autonomous region that is quite separate from the rest of Iraq. The Sunni ISIS Caliphate would be quite similar.
Well, if it’s not about the brutality of capital punishment or beheadings, or about the treatment of women, or of secession, then why should we hate and loathe them?
Is it, once again, because of oil? Is it because, as Dick Cheney used to say, our oil is under their land? The Kurds have been quite successful in selling their oil on the open market despite opposition from the U.S. It seems ISIS wants to do the same. Exxon-Mobil owns the leases to the oil in the western part of Iraq, and it’s their refineries that ISIS has seized. So, the bottom line is, once again, we’re going to war to protect the vital interests of Exxon.
The heroic defense of Kobani by the Kurdish militias reminds one of the defense of Leningrad and Stalingrad in World War II.  Roosevelt wanted to intervene, open a second front to take some of the pressure off the Nazi siege, but Churchill convinced him to put it off for another year until 1944.  Churchill wanted the Nazis to fight the Communists until they were both exhausted. Then, he imagined, Britain and the U.S. could sweep in and pick up the spoils of war.  It didn’t quite work out like that.  The struggle against the Nazis made Russia into a superpower that rivaled the U.S. and cast Great Britain into oblivion as a world power.
Turkey, the U.S. and most of its Arab allies prefer the Churchill alternative to intervention in Kobani.  The ISIS jihad is a threat to their regimes, but so is the ideology of the Kurdish Worker’s Party.  Consider this from their website:  “Woman’s freedom will play a stabilizing and equalizing role in forming the new civilization and she will take her place under respectable, free and equal conditions.”  Those are dangerous ideas in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. should intervene diplomatically in this struggle in a way that would force an end to the fighting and allow everyone to come out a winner.  The U.S. should begin immediate negotiations with ISIS, arrange a cease-fire and begin territorial discussions in a conference with ISIS, Syria, Iraq and the Kurdish Worker’s Party.  The best solution to this struggle might be an independent Sunni state that includes parts of Iraq and Syria.  The Sunnis have legitimate grievances against both Syria and Iraq, and this might be the best way to resolve them.  It could be a way to end everybody’s headache, and it might be the best way for Exxon-Mobil to get their oil back.

Comments are closed.