Retreat to Kurdistan

There’s long been a certain strand of sentiment that we ought to basically withdraw our forces not out of Iraq, but out of Arab Iraq and into Kurdistan. This seems like a seriously bad notion to me; people need to think about how that’s going to play in the Arab world. People also need to understand that “Kurdistan” is a contestable concept and that the people running it have a very expansive conception about what Kurdistan is. Having the US military underwrite Kurdish claims to rule over the Mosul region doesn’t seem very smart.

That said, it makes sense to me that people are worried about the prospect of leaving the Kurds to be slaughtered once again. This, however, neglects the basic point that by every estimate I’ve seen the Kurdish peshmerga are a substantially superior fighting force to anything that exists in Arab Iraq. We don’t really need to do anything at all. But if that’s not the case (and this is something where, I think, you’d want to get an assessment from MNF-Iraq and not just rely on Google and bloggers) this is a situation where a “training / equipping” mission would make sense, particularly on the equipping front. Leaving Iraq is probably going to entail abandoning a certain amount of military hardware, and one can try to exercise some control over whose hands it falls into.