America stands to benefit in long term

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Opinion America stands to benefit in long term

ajc.com - by Martin Slann - February 27, 2007

In March 2003, the United States and its allies invaded Iraq and destroyed a brutal dictatorship. 

Within several months, resistance to the United States had morphed into sectarian violence. It's important to remember that most of the violence involves the two largest religious sects, the Shia (about 60 percent of the total population) and Sunnis. 

The former are supported by Iran just as they are in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. The violence threatens disintegration of the Iraqi state. However, for the United States, this is not a bad thing. Rather, American interests would be better served if Iraq did dissolve. The northern third, non-Arab and Kurdish, is a pro-American enclave that has created a democracy of sorts, in great part because of U.S. protection, and controls substantial oil reserves. 

The Kurds also have ethnic cousins in adjoining northwestern Iran, another country that can be dissolved and thereby pose less of a threat to the U.S. 

The Iranian Kurds, like the Iraqi Kurds, seek their own state. We should encourage both to secede and establish one sovereign state that would almost certainly become a strong American ally. A Kurdish state would in turn encourage other non-Persian peoples in Iran, such as Azeris (a fourth of the Iranian population) to oppose a government they hate. 

Iran could conceivably be reduced to half of its current population and territory and weakened immeasurably. Even better, its hostile and fanatical regime would lose control over significant oil reserves. All of this could occur because of what the United States demonstrated in Iraq (as well as in Afghanistan): a will to overthrow regimes determined to do us harm even as they torment their own people. 

Regime change in Iran could be accomplished by military action, but that is neither preferred nor necessary. Regime change would occur almost certainly if the United States simultaneously gave support both to Iranian dissidents in exile and within Iran to establish a government in exile pledged to democratic reforms and a renunciation of terrorism. If Iraq and Iran devolved, Syria would take notice. It faces the same kind of problem: competing ethnic groups and sectarian distrust. 

The misery and violence in Iraq is thus an opportunity for America. Our foreign policy for decades has been predicated on the notion that we must support and enhance political stability in the Middle East. But why are we interested in preserving the territorial integrity of regimes that want to destroy us? 

Instead, we can add allies that are indigenous to the region who, unlike Saudi Arabia, would actually help us. Besides Israel, we would be able to count on a fully independent Lebanon, a strong Kurdistan, an "Azeristan" happy to sell oil to us. 

This is not an unrealistic scenario if we but understand that managed chaos in the short term can be a good thing.

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