Friday, August 01, 2014

Aid the Kurds

The Kurds want weapons to fight the Islamic State camped out in Iraq. We should provide that help.

I find this refusal to arm the Kurds ridiculous:

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq is pressing the Obama administration for sophisticated weapons it says Kurdish fighters need to push back Islamist militants threatening their region, Kurdish and U.S. officials said. ...

The requested military supplies include tanks, sniper equipment, armored personnel carriers, artillery and ammunition, and also body armor, helmets, fuel trucks and ambulances. ...

U.S. officials say they are considering ways to help the Kurds defend themselves, but direct provision of arms to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the way Washington arms Iraq's central government in Baghdad, appears highly unlikely.

We'll arm the Iraqi central government which has so far been ineffective but we won't help the effective Kurds because of our Westphalian concerns of only dealing with a state government?

The Islamic State has more modern US weapons than the Kurds at this point, given that the jihadis captured so many weapons that we provided to the central Iraqi state.

We're fighting a nonstate actor, people! Why should we be restricted in fighting the nonstate jihadis?

I say, screw Westphalia and help nonstate actors who want to fight our common jihadi enemies when the nominally sovereign state that should do the job can't. I thought this was the way we were heading, but apparently not.

Remember, too, that our military provides a lot of surplus military equipment to our local police forces (that's an outrage itself, in the militarization of our own police). If we arm our cops, why can't we arm the Kurds when they face an actual military threat that the Iraqi central government clearly cannot handle yet?

We need to tell the Iraqis that we'll treat them like the entity on Iraqi territory with the lawful monopoly of lethal force when the Islamic State is defeated.

Or tell them that we'll agree to this fiction the moment Iran stops helping pro-Iranian militias within Iraq.

The Kurds fight. Arm them.

UPDATE: Don't count on just the Kurds, apparently:

Islamic State Sunni insurgents have captured two northern Iraqi towns and an oil field in their first major victory over Kurdish fighters, witnesses said on Sunday. ...

Kurdish forces poured in reinforcements, including special forces, to the town of Zumar this weekend to battle Islamic State fighters who had arrived from three directions on pickup trucks mounted with weapons, residents said.

The militants later hoisted their black flag over buildings in Zumar, a ritual that has in the past been followed by the mass execution of captured opponents and the violent imposition of an ideology that even al-Qaeda finds excessive.

The Islamic State later also seized the town of Sinjar, where witnesses said residents had fled after Kurdish fighters put up little resistance against the militants.

The Kurds can help--if we help them. But they can't do it all.