This article is the text of a slide presentation at the 18th annual conference of Kurdish National Congress of North America on March 17-19, 2006. After the conference I had the honor of being elected as one of the board of directors of KNC-NA. I would like to appreciate the trust and confidence of my friends in the organization and I hope that together we can bring further progress to Kurdistan, the Middle East, and the world.
“Wishful thinking is one thing, and reality another. As wishful thinking, of course, I think all Kurds want independence.” This was the response of Mr. Talabani to a BBC reporter on April 18, 2005. Wishful thinking is a psychiatric term that describes unrealistic thoughts and hopes. The term originates from Freudian psychology which is usually based on interpretation rather than science. In politics this term might be used by stagnant establishments pejoratively to describe idealists who prefer change and progress. A more neutral political word for wishful thinking might be idealism. For the sake of argument, to break a taboo, and neutralize a pejorative word, I will use the term “wishful thinking” in this article.
Comparing current images of Mr. Talabani's with the one in the 1960s, makes me think that he might have been a wishful thinker himself, hoping to become as prominent as his previous leader, General Barezani. His wishful thinking seems to have come true in two ways. In terms of volume he is clearly more prominent than the son of his rival. In terms of prominent representation, he also became the leader of a country with the word Akbar, most prominent, in the center of its flag instead of one with a shining sun as the symbol of light and life.
History will judge if political wishful thinking is for or against humanity. Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein could be described as wishful thinkers whose aim was getting to the most prominent position via dominance and purifying their world from non-Aryans, non-proletariats, and non Arabs respectively. Their ideas and behavior were against humanity and all three paid for their malicious ambition. Some of the fundamentalists in the current camp of political Islam, who wish to free the world from “infidels” and make choices for everyone based on sharia, seem to be heading in the same direction.
Contrary to violent fanatics, the peaceful wishful thinkers such as the American Founding fathers, Lincoln, women's rights activists, oppressed Jews, Gandhi, separated Berliners, and South Africans achieved their progressive ideals by ending British colonialism, abolishing slavery, obtaining women's voting rights, creating a democratic state in the Middle East, sending colonialists to their homes form India, breaking a wired wall, and ending apartheid respectively.
Along these same lines, the wishful thinkers among the nations under the absolute rule of Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia obtained their national self determination right and separated from their oppressive central governments. Despite being nationalistic, the idealists and founders of many new countries who have liberated their people form tyranny deserve to be placed among the humanists in the history.
The Kurdish dream of being free from the four colonial powers in the Middle East and peacefully create one or four Kurdish states in which religion and state are separated and people are allowed to make choices might rightfully be called wishful thinking at this stage. However, this dream is achievable, if the Kurds unite and the free world supports their plight of self determination to the point of federation, separation, or independence.
Contrary to the general perception and based on the experience of other liberated and independent nations, creation of one or four Kurdish states will bring freedom, justice, and stability to the troubled Middle East. Since a majority of Kurds have proven their secularism and love for liberty and justice, after their independence they will have the highest potential to eliminate their borders, unite voluntarily with other ethnicities who support equal rights, and become part of a democratic Middle Eastern Union that could unite with the rest of the free world.
About Dr. Kamal H Artin is a member of Kurdish American Education Society (www.kaes.us), and the Kurdish National Congress; however, his views do not necessarily reflect the views of all members.