ChrisWeigant.com

The Kurds' Historic Vote In Iraq

[ Posted Monday, September 25th, 2017 – 18:03 UTC ]

Most Americans alive today have no memory of our country ever changing its borders. And the last time it happened, many Americans alive at the time had no memory of the country adding previous states, either. The 47th state (Arizona) was admitted to the Union in 1912. Hawai'i and Alaska joined in 1959. Since then, we've now gone 57 years without the United States of America changing its outline on the world map. "This sort of history happens to other people in the world, not us," we tell ourselves. I was thinking of this while watching the muted attention given to Puerto Rico after it got hammered by Hurricane Maria this weekend. But that's a really subject for another column. What made me think about our historic cartological stability again today was the vote for independence being conducted in the parts of Iraq under Kurdish control.

The Kurds are voting either for or against becoming their own country. As of this writing, the results of the vote are not known, but most predict an overwhelming majority will indeed vote for independence.

Before examining the Kurdish situation, though, a larger question must be asked. Should ethnic peoples have the right to vote their own independence from the countries which currently claim what they consider their land? This sort of divorce may become increasingly popular if deemed legitimate by the world, so it is a question with all sorts of overtones. Most see Britain as within its rights to have voted for Brexit. But if Scotland had voted to leave the United Kingdom, would London have allowed it to peacefully exit? Brexit has shaken the United Kingdom to its core, and now even Northern Ireland might consider leaving if Brexit goes badly (they could either become independent themselves, or join with the Republic of Ireland to reunify the entire island under one government). Should the Basque population also be able to divorce themselves from Spain and France? Catalonia is also considering the idea. So the issue of self-determination of independence may have consequences to Western Europe in the very near future.

But then there's the recent past to consider, as well. Was the vote in the Crimea valid? Even if it had been a pristine and valid election (which, by most accounts, it wasn't), should it have been allowed to happen, and should the results have been condoned and supported by the rest of the world? Of course, voting to join another country is a bit different than voting for outright independence, and Russia's hands were certainly all over that election. Some compared it to the annexation of Austria by Adolf Hitler in the anschluss period (which few outside Germany considered legitimate). This is why questions of sovereign self-determination aren't quite as cut and dried as they first appear.

But back to the Kurds. The Kurds have lived in the region since Roman times, but were denied their own country at the end of World War I, when the Middle East was divided up as spoils by the major powers after the war's end (and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire). Instead, the areas where Kurdish is spoken were separated by the new lines on the map, partially ending up in modern-day Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Hopes for creating a "Greater Kurdistan" have long existed, which would put these puzzle pieces back together in order to form a new Kurdish country.

The biggest problem to achieving this goal is that the division of the Kurds into four other countries has meant that the rest of the world sees the Kurds differently depending on where they happen to be. The political divisions imposed on them after World War I worked, in this regard, as intended. If all of the traditional Kurdish areas had become a portion of just one modern country, gaining independence now would be a lot easier task, in other words.

The United States is a good example of how these divisions have fractured foreign policy towards the Kurds. At the present moment, Turkey is an important NATO ally who considers the Kurdish independence guerrilla fighters in Turkey (the P.K.K.) to be "terrorists." The United States, the European Union, and NATO all agree with this official designation. Closely aligned with the P.K.K. is the P.J.A.K. in Iran, with whom the United States has had an ambivalent relationship. At times, we have supported them quietly (because of the old "enemy of my enemy is my friend" logic, as applied towards Tehran), but one of Barack Obama's first acts as president was to officially declare them a terrorist organization.

However, the Kurdish Peshmurga fighters have been the most effective force against the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, from the initial Islamic State blitzkrieg land-grab right up to the present. When the Iraqi army fled the Islamic State's advance, the Kurds halted them from taking any Kurdish territory. The tides of the war really began turning when the Kurds retook the major route through Sinjar, in northern Iraq. The United States has supported the Kurdish fighters in both Iraq and Syria to varying degrees over the years -- which has usually fallen far short of adequately arming them for the battle. But now American air power is providing bombing support for the Kurds fighting in Syria, allowing them to quickly wrest territory from Islamic State control (notably, in their self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, which is now almost fully under Kurdish control).

In fact, in Syria the Kurds have actually gained significant ground from their traditional areas. They were largely responsible for clearing the Turkish-Syrian border of Islamic State fighters, and have pushed far further south than they've ever laid claim to previously. This includes some rather large oil fields, it is worth mentioning. Turkey is not exactly pleased with this situation. Neither are the Russians and the Syrian forces. Since the Islamic State is on the verge of utter defeat in Syria, this friction might become open warfare very soon in the vacuum the Islamic State's demise will create. Especially around those oil fields.

In Iraq, the Kurds have also gained control of disputed territory, notably the city (and oil fields) of Kirkuk. This is complicating their efforts to proclaim independence.

Even holding such a vote has been incredibly contentious. The central Iraqi government declared it illegal, and they were backed up by the highest Iraqi court, but they were largely unable to stop the vote from taking place. Military maneuvers are taking place on many borders of Iraqi Kurdistan, as Iran and Turkey seek to send a message not to act too hastily. Within the Kurdish area in Iraq, the vote itself is enmeshed in Kurdish politics surrounding the current Kurdish leader. The inclusion of Kirkuk in the voting was also seen as overly ambitious.

The United States has cautioned against the Kurds even holding their vote. We have thrown our lot in with the central Baghdad government (at least for now), in order to keep the country intact. This should come as no surprise, since we've never backed an independent Kurdistan -- we prefer to use the Kurdish fighting abilities when their goals match with ours, and then (to one degree or another) to leave the Kurds to their own political fate afterwards. For us, it's always been an alliance of convenience, for the most part. We'll help the Kurds, but only up to a point and no further. Kurdish independence has always been beyond that point for the U.S.

The Iraqi Kurdish vote will be about as non-binding as it gets. It is merely a referendum to test the appeal of the idea of declaring independence, rather than an unequivocal issuance of such a declaration to the world. It is seen even by the Kurds as a preliminary step down a path of negotiation with Baghdad which could eventually lead to their complete political independence. The subject of borders will be a major part of such discussions, of course.

If the goal of declaring Kurdish independence from Iraq is ever completely achieved -- whether through diplomacy or through another phase of the war -- it will have major repercussions across the region. Iran and Turkey may ramp up military actions against their own Kurdish areas, to pre-empt them from leaving. Kurds in Syria may decide to follow the Iraqi example and join the territory they hold with the new Kurdistan state. This would, obviously, change the whole face of the Syrian civil war in a major way.

Consequences aside, though, the basic questions remain, for the rest of the world to grapple with. When should an election to declare independence (or otherwise redraw the world map's lines) be considered valid? When should it even be allowed to happen? What has to happen to certify such an election's validity to the satisfaction of the rest of the world? What groups will this option be open to? How big a population or geographic area should be necessary for such a vote to have any validity? It's easy to spout idealistic platitudes about how everyone should have the right to self-determination, but should this be the case every time, for everyone?

This issue isn't just going to be limited to war-torn areas far away, either. Precedents, once set in international law, are then used by others with similar goals. What will happen in Spain when the Basque region or Catalonia holds a similar vote? The United States fought our own Civil War over the issue of separation, but that was a long time ago. We settled the question once and for all, over 150 years ago -- for ourselves. But the Kurdish vote is going to force both us and the rest of the world to consider both the legality and the desirability of such votes elsewhere in the future, by ethnic or political groups in other countries -- even when the central government is opposed to such a divorce. It's hard not to sympathize with the Kurdish dream of autonomy, but will we just continue to weigh each instance on a case-by-case basis? The answers to all of these questions are going to have a wider impact than just in Iraq; much wider in fact than even in the Greater Kurdistan area or the entire Middle East. So they're questions worth thinking about, while listening to the news of the Kurdish election results.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

25 Comments on “The Kurds' Historic Vote In Iraq”

  1. [1] 
    andygaus wrote:

    This question is not new. I believe it was Robert Lansing, secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson, who asked Wilson some questions as Wilson was putting together the League of Nations with its stated support for "the self-determination of peoples." Lansing wanted to know, What IS a "people"? And is it formed along geographic, linguistic, racial,
    religious, or historically national lines? I think that was about the best question of the 20th century, and obviously, we are no closer to an answer.

  2. [2] 
    neilm wrote:

    Repeat apology - I'm never sure how the reading flow works as we cross post boundaries, so I'm going to repost my replies to the FTP column here as well.

  3. [3] 
    neilm wrote:

    A:

    Firstly, if "Bernie-Bros" is an insult, my apologies - I thought it was the movement's own, proud, term for their supporters. My bad.

    Re: P/E ratio

    Correct, it currently is 35, my very simple model was showing the effect of QE lowering interest rates and thus raising the price (P) of stocks, not explaining the current market in detail. The P/E of 35 reflects about a 3% "return", but it is expected that the "E" (earnings) will grow in the future and that is priced in. Also, dividends add another e.g. 2% or so, bringing the long term implied returns up to about 5% + priced-in future growth.

    re: Germany

    For the most part, the Germans are very pleased with their lot, and most of their neighbors agree (https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21695581-europeans-have-warped-views-their-neighboursand-themselves-green-eyed-continent).

    The AfD took a lot of Merkel's support in Bavaria, and it is perceived that this is not because a lot of old, rich Germans are pining for Adolf, but that they feel Merkel is diluting German culture, to which the separate party in Bavaria (the CSU part of the CDU/CSU alliance) has always been sensitive to - they definitely put the "Christian" part more prominently and Merkel was importing a lot of non-Christians. I still believe that in a few years the mass immigration event will be forgotten, unless the Germans create ghettos similar to the ones the French have with their minority populations.

    FYI: I know I'm just cherry picking a few replies to all the points you raised. Sorry.

  4. [4] 
    neilm wrote:

    My point about the "art of the possible" is based on my reading of the "Overton Window" in American society. I've lived here for 25 years, moving here from Thatcher's Britain and found America to be dramatically to the right of even that. I was living in Surrey County in England (Thatcherland Central) before I moved to Marin Country, California (regarded as almost Trotskyite by Americans I met). Thus I came from a strongly right wing county of Britain to what I was told was a strongly left wing county in American and still felt I was moving sharply to the right politically.

    I also believe that to make dramatic changes in the American system you need either a supermajority (White House, House, plus 60+ seats in the Senate) or you need to compromise. Since supermajorities are rare, finding compromise is the way to go. The Republicans denounced compromise in the last 10 years, and it is so ingrained that they can't even compromise with themselves (proof point: repeated failures to repeal the ACA).

    Thus I'm of the opinion that large steps away from the center-right norms of this country, even with supposed public support* are unlikely and that an incremental approach is simply more likely to deliver results.

    In the British system a simple party can exercise almost unfettered power and lurch the country in larger steps, and frankly I think that is a better system of government that the loudly praised "checks and balances" system in the Constitution.

    * The problem with saying "65% of people want X" is that when the opponents of "X" suspect that policies promoting "X" are likely they engage their propaganda and the public support for "X" drops. I regard polls showing the popularity of unlikely outcomes as accurate reflections of general public opinion, but not manipulated public opinion during the heated debate of a topic in this country when political decisions are made. Plus, Don is right, money dictates outcomes in American politics at the moment.

  5. [5] 
    neilm wrote:

    Well it turns out you can't repeat comments - the filter catches that - so please go to http://www.chrisweigant.com/2017/09/22/ftp454/#comment-109358 for my two replies.

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    andygaus-1

    Lansing's Question fully applies to the United States, but is especially pertinent (impertinent?) in the Time of Trump.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Biden was right.

    But, not in the way most people think.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well it turns out you can't repeat comments

    And, thank the blogging gods for that!

  9. [9] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Your question of "...the legality and the desirability of such votes elsewhere in the future, by ethnic or political groups in other countries -- even when the central government is opposed to such a divorce" hinges on that last part about "even when".

    As far as I know, when a central government agrees to split up its nation-state, no one can think of a reason to object. Examples include the recent collapse of the USSR, and the splitting of Czechoslovakia. Even the defenders of the Union in the US Civil War framed their objections to secession on the fact that the nation as a whole had not consented to the various states' secessions; but since the U.S. itself was based on a unilateral colonial 'secession', the South felt it had a valid precedent for ignoring the Union majority. "And the war came."

    Still, as you say, nation is an extremely tricky word, and a double-edged sword for creating large modern states. The threat and use of force by a ruling elite underlies all sovereign authority in the end. Incorporating popular consent and the rule of law into the elite's governing structure has proved effective in harnessing many modern nationalist ideologies, but it's no more guaranteed to work forever than any other political system.

  10. [10] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    The referendum called for in Catalonia has resulted in arrests, officials being fired, raids on offices of political parties and activists, and massive numbers of police from other regions being deployed there to physically prevent referendum preparations.

    In other words, suppression by force.
    We don't have to wonder how it may be handled. It's happening now.

    I suspect Baghdad is jealous that they lack the ability to do the same to the Kurds.

    I think the context in Ukraine deserves a little broader treatment, as similar situations have occurred around the globe.
    The referendum in Crimea was a consequence of a foreign backed coup which overturned the results of a democratic election in Ukraine.
    The will of the people, self-determination, was denied.

    But in general, the US accepts the outcomes of coups that result in governments we like and condemns and attacks when we don't.

    That double standard is relevant to the independence referendum debate, where the same dynamic takes place, and all the excellent questions you posed in this column come into play... because legally, the US doesn't actually get to decide the answers to those questions, and yet, we think we do because as the sole superpower we mostly do.
    But that doesn't make it legal, moral, or correct.

    So, the context of your questions needs to be reframed.
    Will we decide the answers to those questions?
    Or will we work internationally and develop a consensus answer to those questions?

    A

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Hopes for creating a "Greater Kurdistan" have long existed, which would put these puzzle pieces back together in order to form a new Kurdish country.

    It's interesting to compare the Wikipedia ethnic map of Greater Kurdistan in CW's link with the map envisioned by the Kurdish News Network (KNN):

    http://www.knnc.net/Img/News/14420171341484_kurdistanmap1432017.jpg

    Both maps include significant parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, but the Wiki map is landlocked, while the KNN map contains a corridor to the Mediterranean. Direct access to the seas is vital to a nation's success, especially none of your neighbors are particularly happy you exist. The Kurds are currently about 50 km east of the Syrian Mediterranean coast (see link in following post).

  12. [12] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Link to Kurdish controlled areas (see 9), the most recent I could find. Putting the maps together in your head gives an important clue to how the Kurds are thinking. Note that the Kurdish enclave nearest the sea is an enclave not adjacent to other regions under Kurdish control.

  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    With all the brew-ha-ha about the NFL and the national anthem maybe it's time to revisit this alleged secret footage from last years NFL game in Mexico that somehow slipped through the cracks of last years news cycle.

    http://youtu.be/LSvznwnDWb8

  14. [14] 
    neilm wrote:

    Don 11

    You are a friggin' genius. Thanks!

  15. [15] 
    altohone wrote:

    neil

    continuing the German politics discussion

    Here's the socialist perspective for your entertainment.

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/09/26/germ-s26.html

    Ignoring the commentary, the quotes from the various politicians remain rather telling.

    What is missing in most of these discussions, in my opinion, is the "stop attacking other countries and creating refugees in the first place" argument.

    You would think that would be central to arguments from the left, but that isn't happening with the SPD, Greens or The Left party in Germany.
    The opposite is actually occurring... open support for bigger military budgets and militarism.

    A

  16. [16] 
    altohone wrote:

    neil

    here's an article with some of the background info to which I was referring on German economics, but it includes what has been happening across the EU.

    Excerpt-

    "On 12 September, the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel published an article by the research network Investigate Europe titled “Europe’s new reserve army.” The report authored by Harald Schumann and Elisa Simantke presents shocking figures.

    Politicians and business groups regularly refer to the over five and a half million people who have found jobs since 2012 as proof of the EU’s booming economy. According to Eurostat, however, four out of five of these new jobs are part-time or short-term contract and low-paid.

    This is especially true for young people. More than half of those under-25 years old in the EU are employed for a limited period, while in Spain this figures rises to over 70 percent.

    Schumann and Simantke cite the reasons for this development: “Commissioners and finance ministers of the Eurogroup systematically abolished collective bargaining agreements” and EU countries were “engulfed by a downward trend for wages and workers’ rights.” There has been a wave of deregulation in labor law in EU countries for the past two decades. These so-called structural reforms are aimed at making work more “flexible” and driving down costs.

    The model for these measures was the German Agenda 2010 program implemented by the Social Democrat-Green Party government led by Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and Joschka Fischer (Green Party) in 2003. “In his government statement on the subject in March 2003, Schröder, spoke of ‘flexibility’ and ‘creating flexibility’,” the authors write. “And so non-contract agency work was freed from ‘bureaucratic restrictions’, the ceiling for short-term contract work for start-ups was extended to four years, employers received tax relief for offering low-wage and mini-jobs, while the unemployed were forced to accept any job offer no matter how badly paid.”

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/09/26/prec-s26.html

    It's as American as apple pie.

    A

  17. [17] 
    neilm wrote:

    Altohone 13:

    There are legitimate concerns that Merkel's open door policy for Syrian refugees, while morally unimpeachable, had two major issues:

    1. It seemed open ended and Germany was singularly bearing the load while other countries did less or little, so it was an unfair burden

    2. It was a large influx of people from a very different culture and not all nations aspire to be the melting pot that the U.S. likes to think of itself

    Thus Merkel's traditionalist supporters may well have been sending her a message that she has to remember the right wing of the party as well as the left and center. As I stated, I think we should wait and see the longer picture - I think there were one-off pressures in this election. Also, this is basically Merkel's fourth term and it always gets harder to keep a run like this up.

    As for the other parties, I think that they recognized that the AfD was a protest vote that might topple the CSU/CDU stranglehold as the largest party and are being optimistic. Again I'd wait for the longer term. Already the leader of the AfD has split from her own party as she saw the message going from "protecting German culture" to "infringing on bigotry".

    Having spent a week in Switzerland and seeing the cloying cultural uniformity of the German part, the fact the Bavaria, which shares a large cultural overlap, is also very, very culturally conservative is no surprise. I do not mean to equate protecting a culture with bigotry, but rather an expectation that you can be who you want but you must not try to change things - I'm not putting this well, I'll think about the words and maybe try again later.

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    neilm (12)-
    Thank you. I've been waiting a long time for someone other than me to say that.

  19. [19] 
    dsws wrote:

    Ideally, ethnicity should have nothing to do with the borders of states. But ideally, states should have nothing to say about the cultural identity of their citizens. Everyone should be able to live wherever they feel like, without facing discrimination from the government.

    Realistically? That's harder. I'll have to think about it.

  20. [20] 
    altohone wrote:

    neil
    15

    Again, the "morally unimpeachable" position is not supporting the unnecessary wars that created the refugees.
    Helping to create the mess has moral implications that must be acknowledged. Open arms for refugees can't be seen outside of this context.

    I just finished reading this-

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/26/the-german-election-the-wests-nervous-breakdown-continues/

    Excerpt-

    "Almost 30 years later, that has not happened. There is widespread nostalgia in the Eastern states for the DDR and the modest but stable and generally stress-free life that most citizens there led, free from the threat of losing their dwellings or their jobs. And the same is true in the other Eastern European nations which joined the European Union and NATO after 1989.

    As Stephen Gowans writes in his recent essay “We Lived Better Then”:

    ‘Of course, none of the great promises of the counterrevolution were kept. While at the time the demise of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was proclaimed as a great victory for humanity, not least by leftist intellectuals in the United States, two decades later there’s little to celebrate. The dismantling of socialism has, in a word, been a catastrophe, a great swindle that has not only delivered none of what it promised, but has wreaked irreparable harm, not only in the former socialist countries, but throughout the Western world, as well. Countless millions have been plunged deep into poverty, imperialism has been given a free hand, and wages and benefits in the West have bowed under the pressure of intensified competition for jobs and industry unleashed by a flood of jobless from the former socialist countries, where joblessness once, rightly, was considered an obscenity. Numberless voices in Russia, Romania, East Germany and elsewhere lament what has been stolen from them — and from humanity as a whole: “We lived better under communism. We had jobs. We had security.” And with the threat of jobs migrating to low-wage, high unemployment countries of Eastern Europe, workers in Western Europe have been forced to accept a longer working day, lower pay, and degraded benefits. Today, they fight a desperate rearguard action, where the victories are few, the defeats many. They too lived better — once.’

    The excerpt made me go "wait... really?".
    The whole article is worth a read.
    It covers a lot of other issues we've been discussing.

    A

  21. [21] 
    neilm wrote:

    A 18:

    Interesting article. It is no surprise to me that there is discontent in Germany, just as there is discontent in the U.S., and that it manifests itself in anger leading to bigotry. That is just a natural human response regardless of nationality.

    In my opinion, the driving force of this is a sorting out of people within the Western world, and this same sorting force will impact Asia and Africa as well in time.

    Many of the underlying causes professed by e.g. AfD supporters is that "good jobs" are not available - they then jump to the conclusion that "others" are taking them - Syrian refugees in Germany, Mexicans in America, Polish in the U.K., etc.

    The underlying problem has been correctly diagnosed, however the cause is completely wrong.

    There is a sorting going on based on education levels in capitalist societies. The correlation between education levels and outcomes is increasing, and this is leaving major groups behind - for example older workers who left high school at a time when only a small percentage of people went to University, or younger people who had no chance, due to circumstance or academic achievement to get into college.

    We are creating sub-societies within our nations, be it America, Germany, etc. I was recently asked to list the top 5 people who I spent most time with (outside of family and work) then asked how many had at least a college degree. In my case it was 100%. The probability of that, even if you generously estimate that 35% of Americans have a college degree, is 1 in about 200. All five also are financially comfortable. Even when I extend the list, the pattern pretty much holds. When I grew up my parents friends were far more diverse than mine are. This is only one data point, but there are many studies that show this sorting is becoming significantly more pronounced. The book "Coming Apart" by Charles Murray looks at this in detail, and is worth a read.

    If you look at the rhetoric that we hear from Trump supporters, a lot of it is anti-elite. They know that there are winners and losers and they traditional losers (non-whites) are now improving on average, while the floor under the white community that kept them one level above has disappeared. The description of the floor that communism provided and has now been lost in the old East Germany has a corollary to the one that used to be provided to whites, particularly in the Southern states of the U.S.

    So we come back to the solution - raw capitalism creates winners and losers and asa system does not care about the losers. We have governments to try to distribute the wealth from the winners to the losers, however the winners in this country have figured out that they can buy control of government and brainwash enough of the voters to keep the cost to themselves to a minimum. One method of brainwashing is to appeal to the baser human instincts of "us vs. them" and as the divide gets larger (the Gini is a good proxy in my opinion) the level of passion that needs to be generated increases.

    We have in the White House the rawest example of these baser human instincts than we have had for at least 100 years, so this will either blow up or be rock bottom for our society. I for one hope this is rock bottom and that more people realize they have been conned by the Fox News types and rebel at the ballot box.

  22. [22] 
    altohone wrote:

    neil
    19

    I think that holds true for many and the last couple of decades, but the numbers of struggling Americans with college degrees is part of the newer normal.

    You recently pointed out most of the gains were going to the top 10%... so if 35%% have higher education, a good chunk of them, a majority, are part of the group getting the shaft... or at least not getting ahead as they once would have.

    In other words, I think the explanation you offer is now a little outdated.

    I'm more concerned with the bottom half though.
    The "sorting" may have a meritocratic element based on inherent abilities, but opportunities being denied to worthy individuals in the lower half are a growing problem, and some simple morality or a sense of justice about a basic floor of living standards is both attainable and affordable for the richest country the world has ever known, but seems to actually be diminishing.

    And I think it's a mistake to blame FOX, but not include MSNBC, the NYT, CNN, etc. too. Likewise, we can't blame the GOP when most Dems are serving the same interests and enacting and supporting the same policies... just with language that isn't as mean.

    All but four Dems in the Senate, along with Bernie and three Repubs just passed a military budget with an $80,000,000,000 increase.
    80 billion more for the military without any hand wringing or debates about how to pay for it.
    From 620 billion per year, to 700 billion per year.
    Every year.

    Not only is it nearly twice as much as Trump requested, and giving Trump a major legislative victory and more military might that Dems say he can't be trusted with, it's also twice as much as what Bernie's free public college plan would have cost which almost ALL who voted for the increase lambasted as unaffordable, unrealistic, pie in the sky... or as Hillary put it, free ponies which he couldn't possibly deliver.

    And it will mean millions of more dead people and ever more terrorists being created.

    Dems handed this to Trump, and pundits can't even be bothered to write a column or even a single paragraph about it or offer any criticism.

    The perspective on policy, and what is possible, is seriously twisted.

    A

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    andyguas [1] -

    You're certainly right about that. You can even take it back to the American Revolution...

    neilm [5] -

    OK, restored [3] and [4], sorry. The filter uses two buckets ("pending" and "spam") and I tend to only keep a close eye on the pending ones. Yours were all the way in spam, so my apologies for not catching them before now.

    [3] -

    "Bernie Bros" is a loaded term. Some embrace it proudly, but the other side uses it as an insult. So you can use it either way to describe yourself, but when describing others, be careful. That's my advice, anyway.

    [4] -

    Good point about our political spectrum as compared to Europe's. But I see the answer as bold plans to the left (even if they'll never pass) to move the Overton window that direction, if the public agrees. Timid incrementalism may get a baby step accomplished, but they won't move the overall O window at all, really.

    Also a good point about polling before the opposition heats up versus during.

    altohone [10] -

    Good point about Catalonia -- when I wrote this, I didn't realize they had scheduled their vote so soon in the future. Good point also about how Baghdad is jealous of the ability to forcibly deny the vote -- I think you're pretty spot-on there.

    And an excellent point about world consensus, too.

    TheStig [11] -

    I think a corridor to the Med is overly optimistic. The Syrian Kurds wanted to create a region south of Turkey's border, and were denied this by Turkish forces entering the fight (around Manbij? Doing that from memory...). But Turkey's already threatening to turn off the oil pipeline the Iraqi Kurds need to ship their oil to the rest of the world, so obviously a Kurdish channel to the Med would be a real goal to shoot for.

    [12] -

    OK, I looked it up, it was actually the fight for control of al-Bab in Syria. The Kurds still hold Manbij.

    Don Harris [13] -

    OK, that was pretty funny!

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW
    23

    Any chance you could share an example of someone who proudly embraces Bernie-Bro?

    Never seen it, but now I want to badly.

    Thanks
    A

  25. [25] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW-11

    "I think a corridor to the Med is overly optimistic."

    I agree. Turkey won't give up a corridor to the Med, which basically leaves Syria as the alternative. Aleppo stands in the way, and Aleppo is either the largest or second largest city in Syria...nobody really knows for sure anymore. There is a Kurdish quarter in Aleppo, and it's well defended by their militia. So, the Kurds still have a few cards to play...military and diplomatic....and the hope that the Syrian government collapses (not entirely far fetched...but that might bring in more Russians).

    If Iraq ever managed to become a viable nation again, a semi-autonomous Kurdish state (with access to the Persian Gulf) might make more sense that a land locked sovereign Kurdish nation....the list of genuinely viable land locked nations is not long.

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