Sunday, July 24, 2016

Divide Libya

Libya might be better off split into three--or more if the Libyans choose--parts, in a loose confederation. The author is probably right.

I've said the same for Somalia. And for Libya. And Somalia.

And even Syria if we can't overthrow Assad. If the alternative is Assad controlling Syria, I'd rather have Assad just control a rump territory of his supporters in the northwest.

The split of Czechoslovakia didn't bother me.

And I couldn't care less if Belgium fractures.

I've supported British withdrawal from the European Union but hoped Scotland would remain within Great Britain.

I was pleased that eastern European countries escaped the Soviet Union; and the break up of the Soviet Union was a victory for peace and stability.

But I have opposed division of Iraq. That country I've argued should be united.

Am I inconsistent? No, I don't think so.

If people want to divide up, I'm generally in favor of letting them decide freely to do so.

But if division is contrary to American interests, I oppose it. Conversely, if I think union is in our interests, I support it.

Mali's Tuaregs can make a case for independence of the north. But could it escape jihadi dominance if it goes its own way? The answer to that question will guide my opinion on separation.

And if it is not a critical region, like the split of Czechoslovakia or the potential division of Belgium, why should I really care?

In the absence of compelling reason to support either division or union, I figure it is up to the people themselves.

And for those in East Africa, just how important is their nation?

The fact that so many East Africans struggle to celebrate their countries’ Independence Days ought to clue us in that, in this region, non-national identities—ethnicity, clan, tribe, religion—matter much, much more.

As I've written before, I think a united Iraq is in America's interests.

A divided Iraq would leave a rump Shia state vulnerable to Iranian dominance through a violent minority without Sunni Arabs and Kurds to oppose Iran.

A divided Iraq would leave an impoverished Sunni Arab western Iraq vulnerable to Islamist dominance--which has happened twice since 2003 (al Qaeda and the successor ISIL).

A divided Iraq would put a target on the Kurds of Iraq who would be seen as a threat to Iran and Turkey.

I like having a united Iraq to block Iran.

And these are the issues after the massive bloodshed to align groups with new borders. Other minorities will be on their own, of course, since the Sunni Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shia Arabs are just the three biggest groups in Iraq.

So I'd rather have Iraq remain united.

Yet I've also written that after the fighting is over and passions cool, if the Iraqis decide to go their own ways, who am I to object? I'd still oppose it for the reasons given but the Iraqis do have the choice.

Anyway, that's how I stand on dividing states.

Although an interesting variation might be a nominally unified state with regional armies--like our state National Guards?--to reflect the reality on the ground:

The United Nations envoy to Libya said Wednesday that its reconstituted army could be decentralized, an idea aimed at easing the political gridlock surrounding an internationally-backed unity government.

In an interview in Cairo, Martin Kobler confirmed reports that the formation of military councils representing Libya's western, eastern and southern regions is being discussed.

What of a navy/coast guard? The south obviously wouldn't need that.

So would a navy and/or coast guard and perhaps an air force and even a small special forces capability be a national force with basic ground forces being regionalized?

Perhaps ground force training is centralized at the national level as well as procurement?

Interesting notion.