America is not responsible for chaos in the Middle East. The Middle East has known nothing but chaos for most of its history. The colonial policy of the European powers after World War I left inherently unstable structures in place that must, one day, meet their reckoning. But America’s obsession with the surgical implant of democracy in the region forces it into a murderous game of whack-a-mole with a welter of armed ethnicities…
Live and let die, I propose instead. For the past seven years I have argued that the West cannot avoid perpetual conflict in the Middle East, and, rather than seeking stability, should steer the instability towards its own ends. Washington should forget about Turkish support in Iraq, allow the Mesopotamian entity to disintegrate into its constituent parts, while helping the Kurds maintain autonomy against Iraq. That would teach the Turks to bite the hand that feeds them. A pro-Western Kurdish state would strengthen Washington’s hand throughout region, with adumbrations in Syria and Iran as well as Turkey.
One should, of course, take Turkish interests into account. To restore its national dignity, Turkey should be encouraged to incorporate the Turkish-speaking (“Azeri”) minority of Iran, and so forth. Turkey ultimately may concede territory to an independent Kurdistan, but more than replace it by annexing portions of Western Iran. One cannot accord respect to failing nationalities; one can only let them fight it out. Breaking up Iraq will not foster stability. On the contrary, it will make the old instabilities a permanent feature of the regional landscape.
But it should be remembered that the Turks were and are the must successful in keeping order in the Middle East. They managed to do so for 500 years. That’s more than the Arabs could manage.