Has Senator Rand Paul been reading NOL?

Oooo lawdy!

“Part of the problem is the Kurds aren’t getting enough arms,” Paul said. “The Kurds are the best fighters. The arms are going through Baghdad to get to the Kurds and they’re being siphoned off and they’re not getting what they need. I think any arms coming from us or coming from any European countries ought to go directly to the Kurds. They seem to be the most effective and most determined fighters.”

In addition, Paul called for giving the Kurds their own country for them to defend against radical Islamists.

“But I would go one step further: I would draw new lines for Kurdistan and I would promise them a country,” Paul said.

Cue the notes here at NOL on adhering to a more internationalist foreign policy: decentralization, secession, devolution, and federation. Notice that Paul is not calling for the US to draw up boundaries between imperial powers. He’s simply calling for the international community that the US largely built to recognize the sovereignty claims of peoples in the post-colonial world, peoples who were ignored when the imperial powers did their carving up over a century ago.

Which option sounds better to you: 1) ignoring the whole situation in the Middle East, 2) pretending that states in the Middle East are legitimate and continuing with the status quo (random bombing campaigns, giving money to dictators to squelch Islamists and socialists), or 3) recognizing that the US could contribute to a more internationalist world by welcoming aspirant regions into statehood, and destroying the legacies of colonialism and Third World nationalism?

7 thoughts on “Has Senator Rand Paul been reading NOL?

  1. Since he believes that children are the property of parents I would opine that he hasn’t been reading any libertarian blogs.

    • OUCH!

      Paul was posed with a gotcha/either-or question from a member of the media. I like it when the media does this, of course, because it gives the public a chance to show off just how ignorant politicians really are. However, given the choice between children being property of parents or property of the government, I think Paul made the right decision. What about you?

      (Also: What about my initial question in the post?)

  2. I must admit I am opposed to aiding the aspirations of the Kurds on two grounds.

    The first is that I’m not convinced in the merits of an independent Kurdistan. By all means I sympathize with their goal, but I am fearful the Turks would react negatively and it would be a nasty business to calculate whether to side with the Turks or Kurds. I would prefer if the region formed a confederation similar to the neo-Ottoman Empire that we have discussed prior.

    (I would link to the post, but I can’t recall if wordpress uses bbc code or html for links.)

    The second reason is that I am skeptical about the ability and willingness of the United States to sustain intervention in the region. The middle east is too far away to be of concern to Americans. Furthermore we have scarce resources and they would be better spent concentrating on the Americas. I for one am more concerned about dealing with promoting pan-American integration than with the middle east. If it is a matter of ensuring access to oil then we should push for reform of Mexico’s and Venezuela’s energy sectors along with our owns.

    The European Union is closer to the region and I think better suited to the task of dealing with the region. Turkey and Israel are also key players. I have voiced my concern about Israel before, but I do think that a truly secular Israel (partnered with Turkey) could do much to stabilize the middle east. There is little place for the US though besides moral support and perhaps some nudging to the Europeans.

    • All excellent points, Michelangelo (and wordpress uses html; here is Fred’s initial piece on neo-Ottomanism, and here is a rebuttal by Barry).

      The Turk-Kurd calculation is an important one, but one that is easy enough to make. The Turks make lousy allies, and they’re not about to go to Moscow for support so recognizing a Kurdistan would anger Ankara but not lose Turkey. An ally that has been less than helpful in Middle East and is angry with US policy in the region is par for the course.

      Political bonds between polities in the Middle East is something that needs to be done, I agree. I just don’t see how an independent Kurdistan makes this any harder to accomplish. It’s true that you’d have four voices instead of three (Israeli, Turkish, Arab, and Kurdish, rather than just Israeli, Turkish, and Arab), but the more voices you have giving input on a confederation, the better. Right?

      Think about what would happen if only the states currently existing in the Middle East had a voice in a confederation. The Kurds would still be screwed, and the issue of sovereignty would still exist.

      In regards to your second point about resources, I agree with you that the US is not focusing enough on the Americas. However, I think that the US is devoting just the right amount of resources towards the Middle East. Washington is just devoting the wrong type of resources to the region. Washington should halt all military resources devoted to the Middle East and instead focus on cultural and diplomatic/intellectual resources.

      I like your framework for thinking about the EU and the Middle East, but without senators (“a more coherent federal structure”) the EU just doesn’t have the capability to devote the same kind of attention to the region as the US does. I think we agree on the overall view of a more libertarian world, I just think the details are little different, largely because the said details are a bit sketchy in my mind.

    • It is good to know wordpress uses html for its comments – thank you.

      If a neo-Ottoman federation arises I suspect it will begin as a political alliance between Turkey and Israel. Perhaps such a federation will arise from the Mediterranean Union, who can know really. The two countries are already relatively close in interests and are, alongside a few of the Gulf States, the closest things the region has to secular liberal powers. The Turks at this time would not favor an independent Kurdistan though and I fear they might withdraw support for a federation if that was part of the package.

      I think it would be easier to first form an Ottoman federation and afterward grant Kurds their independence within the federation.

      It is hard for me to imagine the Arabs joining said federation either way. The Egyptian-Syrian Arab republic went nowhere. Part of me (an infinitely small part!) kind of hopes ISIS manages to defeat the Iraqi and Syrian forces and creates the core of a Pan-Arab nation.

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