October 22, 2003


Of Kurds and Madrid (WILLIAM SAFIRE, October 22, 2003, NY Times)

That unanimous U.N. vote surprised doubters everywhere. Its genesis, I suspect, was at the Bush-Putin meeting two weeks ago in Camp David. Bush lavished fulsome praise on Russia's semi-dictator for his supposed vision of freedom and the rule of law; Vladimir Putin, after gladly joining Bush in sinking the Kyoto global warming treaty, agreed not only to vote our way in the U.N. but also to broker a compromise that would induce France and Germany not just to abstain, but to grudgingly support our occupation.

Just as Turkey delivered on troops, so did Putin on votes. China, as usual, wanted to be part of the majority it could see forming. But France, meekly followed by Germany, wanted an immediate, sovereign provisional government in Iraq, stripping the U.S. of control. When we said no, Putin passed along words to save Jacques Chirac's face: that the interim administration we appointed would "embody the sovereignty" of Iraq "without prejudice to its further evolution" — thereby kicking the can of our control well into next year.

The bandwagon that started in Camp David and gained speed in Ankara rolled through Damascus. Rather than be isolated, Syria — always nervous about the Turks and suddenly worried about the Israelis — made our U.N. resolution unanimous.

That set the stage for this week's Madrid donors' conference. With the French, Germans and Russians refusing to ante up a plug dinar, and with the E.U. offering peanuts, we've been low-balling estimates of aid. But I suspect it will get into the double-digits of billions, especially since contributors can steer contracts to their own nationals.

But here come Iraqi Arabs, using the Kurdish leader Barzani as their wedge to evoke faded memories of the Ottoman Empire and to look the Turkish gift horse in the mouth.

Just as Turkey was only acting in its own national interest when it was uncooperative on the war, so too the Kurds are merely acting in their national interest now. You can't get too upset with folks for that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2003 9:35 AM
Comments for this post are closed.