Despite opposing views (myself included) not to start the war, the United States was determined to invade Iraq and remove one of the Middle Eastern dictators in March 2003. Many argued that the main goal of the invasion was domination and the easy access to cheaper natural resources, in other words, colonialism. While occupations based on such humiliating factors might have been true of old aristocratic European and Asian colonial powers, I think that the main goal of the United Sates to enter any foreign soil has been to liberate people from brutal dictators, and create an opportunity for them to become equal partners in the global free market economy.
It is for such reasons that this contemporary empire and its people are so successful in their political or humanitarian actions as evidenced by ending absolutism in various part of the world or being the most efficient and generous providers of humanitarian aid abroad (Tsunami) or at home (Katrina). Cynical intellectuals might ignore these facts and the fact that the majority of people in the world admire this empire including majority of the voters in Iraq who welcomed the invasion and regime change by their participation in a democratic election in January 2005 when they elected their representatives.
Unfortunately many of those elected representatives in Iraq now seem to deviate from the ideals that Americans thought and fought for. They intend to keep a an outdated British made dysfunctional and artificial union called Iraq with whatever it takes and legitimize it with a constitution based on Islamic law.
Such an Iraq would likely be worse than the one under Saddam; it might legitimize violation of the rights of Kurds, non-Muslims, women, and other minorities. It will disappoint American tax payers in general and families of the soldiers in particular who might have hoped for an Iraqi state in which the culture of free market economy flourishes and any discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. disappears.
Why not an Arab Iraq? Calling Iraq (and Syria) an Arab state is the same as calling Turkey a Turkish Sate, Iran a Persian state, Canada an English state, Switzerland a German state, ex-Czechoslovakia a Czech state, ex-Yugoslavia a Serbian state, and ex-Soviet Union a Russian State. While those states might have or had a dominating majority, calling them by the name of their majority was and is an insult to their other inhabitants.
This is one of the reasons that some of those states no longer exist in their discriminatory form. Iraqi Arabs, regardless of sectarian orientation are entitled to call their territory whatever they desire. Calling all of the Iraqi territory an Arab state instead of at least a bi-national federation is keeping status quo and is an insult to the Kurds, whose expectation for the liberation was to be able to determine their own destiny and an end to any form of discrimination.
Why not an Islamic Iraq? There is some clear historical evidence that the mixture of Islam and state is dangerous or at least non-adaptive. Comparing Shah to Ayatollahs in Iran, Russians to Talibans in Afghanistan, and the World trade center prior and after 9/11 are self explanatory evidences that political Islam is one of the worst enemies of liberty, peace, and prosperity. If for no other reason, the fact alone that at least 50 percent of the population in countries with a fundamental Islamic law have to cover themselves form head to toe, should be a warning to those who oppose any form of dictatorship.
Fortunately the Taliban are gone and it is unlikely that Bin Laden can put Saudi Arabia in a worse situation than it already is. However, the unfortunate Iranians are still paying for their mistake of their Islamic revolution in 1979; now the ayatollahs have become even more sophisticated and assigned a non-ayatollah to lead the country, one who is more fanatic, controlling, and violent than ayatollahs themselves. The only hopes is that the pressure under the new Iranian president might have a paradoxical effect and expedite a peaceful social movement to end the reign of political Islam in Iran.
Let's give some of the ayatollahs the benefit of the doubt and assume that moderate political Islam is different than Islamic fundamentalism. However, the motto of all forms of Islam is the same: “Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his messenger”. Under this leading motto, it is unclear what will happen to those who believe in a different higher power than the one created fourteen-centuries ago? What will happen to those Jews who believe they are chosen by their own god? What will happen to those Christians who believe that Jesus is their savior? What will happen to those who have substituted nature or humanity for god or those who question the existence of any form of god?
A constitution based on Islam or any other religion is dictatorial, allows violation of human rights, creates a culture of hatred and discrimination, and is an insult to most free minds in the 21st century. No doubt that humanitarian and ethical aspect of all religious have guided many individuals and benefited the society. However, the mixture of religion and state has caused many people to distance themselves not only from religion but from spirituality too. Therefore, another state based on religious doctrine can not be an answer to any contemporary problem.
Now the main question is how does one satiate the majority of people who prefer an Arab and Islamic state in Iraq? Using non-democratic means to prevent such a mishap is not the option. I am not familiar with any other option but to allow people to make their own choices. This might lead to a division of the state which has been described by paranoid factions of developing countries as the politic of ” divide and conquer”. Yet, in such a case the only conquerors that come to my mind are the people who have choices.
The size of a country does not seem to be a factor in stability, prosperity, and peace among its inhabitants. Division could solve many unresolved issues and lead to equality, which is a prerequisites for a more advanced voluntary union. It will give the opportunity to Shiites in the region to fulfill their unresolved conflict of having a second state to have a bigger share of power among many Sunni states. It will give Sunnis Arabs an opportunity to learn what it means to be a minority either under the Sunni Kurds or under the Shiites Arabs or a majority on their own as a small country without oil. It will fulfill the ultimate objective of the Kurds of having an independent Kurdistan at least in one part of their homeland.
An independent Kurdistan might be advantageous not only for the Kurds but for all involved parties. The fundamentalists do not have to be worried about the contamination of their pure Islamic land: the “infidels” can leave the area and settle in a free Kurdistan.
A free Kurdistan will add to the balance of having another friendly state towards the West similar to Israel. A free Kurdistan will be another welcoming home for American and European forces that are very unwelcome in most other parts of the Middle East. A free Kurdistan will provide a more balanced and appropriate long-term exit strategy for foreign forces.
A free Kurdistan will also become a refuge for other free thinkers and believers of various religions and ideologies who are not welcome in the areas dominated by fundamentalists. However, a free Kurdistan cannot come to existence as long as the free world remains ignorant and tolerates discrimination against Kurdish people.
About Kamal H Artin, September 5th, 2005 Orange Couty, California, Dr. Artin is a member of Kurdish American Education Society (www.kaes.us), however, his views are not necessarily reflective of the views of all of the KAES members.