Matt Yglesias notes that the Turkish-American-Kurdish conflict will put an especially painful squeeze on Nouri al-Maliki.
Given the Iraqi government’s dependence on the U.S. military, a Turkish invasion of Iraq that the United States approves of isn’t something the Iraqi government can or will do anything about. Thus this incident becomes one more case where U.S.-supported Iraqi leaders see their credibility as national leaders leeched away. If you think of the goal in Iraq as helping to prop up a government that’ll be able to stand up on its own, this sort of thing is a disaster.
At one point non-Kurdish Iraqis looked at the world with more of a nationalist than a secularist perspective. Intermarriage was common and Shiite officers and enlisted men had no problem going to war with Iran. To the degree that an Iraqi national identity still exists a Turkish invasion would create intense pressure from a side that Maliki has until now taken for granted. An opposition figure with a sizable base of support, say Muqtada al Sadr, would be well-positioned to tack towards national unity on a platform of repelling the Turks. Meanwhile America, in in bed with Maliki’s government and blocked by treaty from getting in the way of Turkey’s army, can look forward to an entirely new basis for popular support for the insurgency.
John McCain, foreign policy deep thinker, has declared that “as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed” we could stay in Iraq for 100 or a million years. Well sure, as long as I only buy winning lottery tickets I’ll be a billionaire. I could really use some straight talk on what McCain will do if our kids keep dying.