Best columns: International
It’s time for Kurds to declare independence
Iraqi Kurds will soon decide whether they want their own nation, said Ayub Nuri. Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan Region, announced earlier this month that a referendum will be held in September on declaring independence from Baghdad. About a dozen Kurdish parties and factions were consulted over the vote, yet some Kurds are still concerned that such a referendum could “lead to the establishment of a dictatorial state.” Others say that we are destined for democracy, but only if we build our country slowly, assembling a perfect constitution, a strong economic infrastructure, and a functioning parliament before seeking independence. These concerns are misplaced. It’s not as if the country we are currently part of, Iraq, is particularly democratic or free of corruption. “Who cares at this stage what kind of state Kurdistan will be?” Sure, it would be great to have strong institutions and high standards of living, but the first step is to have a state at all. Right now, Kurds put almost every major decision on hold—whether “building a highway or a dam or a family home”—because we have almost no control over what happens next. Once we declare independence, the Kurds will finally have “breathing space and a chance to invest in their own future.”
Are we a target of the war on terror?
Ricardo Pascoe Pierce
The Trump administration is hinting at an ominous turn against Mexico in its war on terror, said Ricardo Pascoe Pierce. Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Mexican cartels are in contact with foreign terrorist groups, including ISIS. Then he said the U.S. is working on a “different approach” to stopping drug trafficking and migration from Mexico. Forgive us if we are rather alarmed by these statements. Taken together, and combined with “what we know of President Trump’s attitude,” they hint that the border might be militarized and blunt police tactics used against desperate Central American migrants fleeing drug violence in their home countries. Mexico knows from its own experience that a militarized drug war does not work—we’ve tried it for 10 years, yet “today the violence is worse and the geographical and social presence of criminals has spread.” Soft power works better than hard. Yet given that Trump wants to slash State Department funding and cut poverty-alleviation programs in Central America, we can expect to see more, not fewer, migrants heading north. If the U.S. uses the pretext of international terrorism to crack down along the border, everyone will suffer—Mexico most of all. ■