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Carving up Iraq for Kurds, Palestinians could lead to peace

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Where are you when we need you, Henry? I'm calling to Henry Kissinger. The man who opened the doors to China. The man who got us out of Vietnam. The world is crying out for a new approach, a creative solution to the seemingly intractable problems of the Middle East.

Up to now, we've seen nothing but a rehash of old and hackneyed proposals for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian impasse or the suppression of the Kurdish minority in Iraq.

Secretary of State James Baker has taken the traditional path of diplomacy in the Middle East _ a path foredoomed to failure. The new alignments brought about by the recent war have shown themselves clearly to be so narrowly constructed that they form no basis for the solution of the old political disputes that predated Desert Storm. The Arab states and Israel have made that clear in Baker's discussions to date. So we're back to square one. What to do?

Let's start with the proposition that Iraq is a country without an ethnically unified foundation. We're not talking now about ancient Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. We're talking about a so-called country with an arbitrary set of boundaries established by Great Britain at the end of World War I to satisfy promises made to political allies.

Is this really a country whose existence we should strain to preserve? I suggest that it is not.

In the north we have some 4-million Kurds; in the south, a large area around Basra inhabited by millions of Shiite Moslems. In the center, we have the main population of Sunni Moslems.

The administration has stated that the "stability" of the Middle East requires the preservation of Iraq as an entity with its present boundaries. What is sacrosanct about its present boundaries? They reflect nothing but a deal made by the former British Empire while it carved out the oil-rich kingdom of Kuwait, over which we just went to war.

The only reason that has been advanced for sustaining Iraq in its present form is that the neighboring country of Iran is a maverick state that cannot be trusted and might attempt a territorial takeover if Iraq were dismembered. There is no evidence that a war-weary Iran, which lost more than a million lives in an eight-year war, would embark on such an adventure.

I vote to dismember Iraq.

I vote to give the northern portion of this co-called country to the long-suffering Kurds as an independent state. Now let's deal with the rest of this phony non-country created after World War I.

Throughout the recent war, Saddam Hussein's heart was bleeding for the Palestinians who remain in Israel. He proclaimed his country's devotion to them. He vowed to free them. He made their cause Iraq's cause. He attacked Israel again and again to call attention to the Palestinian struggle for a state of their own. Okay, Mr. Saddam. You love the Palestinians so much, open your arms to them. Open the doors of your country to them. Even better, I suggest you give them what they most desire and so urgently demand _ a state of their own.

How about a nice slice of Iraq on its western border with Jordan? Cheek by jowl with King Hussein's kingdom of Jordan.

They'll be happy there. More than half of Jordan's population is said to consist of Palestinians. This should make King Hussein happy, too, as he so strongly supported Iraq's stance in the recent war. So, I recommend a Palestinian state on a substantial slab of western Iraq.

But is this cricket? Do we simply walk in and dismember a "country" that has lost a war? You're damn right we do! That's what the world has been doing throughout history. That's what our own country did in this century when it took over our entire Southwest after winning the war with Mexico.

Need I cite other examples? Unnecessary, I believe.

Not only do victorious countries annex territories from defeated states, but victorious allies carve up and take over territories from their vanquished enemies. World War II, of course, is a notorious example, even though the victors later may have to disgorge the victims.

The United Nations carved out the state of Israel in 1948. Its creation would have worked out well but for the intransigence of the Arabs and the refusal of Arab states to accept into their midst those of its people who wished to leave.

Why, then, should the United Nations hesitate to apply this simple solution to two of the most pressing problems in the Middle East _ the Kurds and the Palestinians _ by simply carving two new states out of Iraqi territory?

So, Henry, stop all this nonsense about forecasting the weather on a major television station. Get back to what you do best. Give us some creative Kissinger diplomacy.

Sidney Goetz, a retired lawyer from Long Island, is a member of the newly formed Florida Coalition for the Freedom to Learn.