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Why Kurdish referendum means the end of Iraq

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There are many worthy markers that America’s Iraq Wars have been a terrible, terrible waste, but as history loves a signature event, let it be the September 25, 2017 Kurdish independence referendum. While the referendum is non-binding and the final vote tally may not be known for several days (though it will certainly be “yes” to independence), the true results of America’s decades of war in Iraq are already clear.

Along with the ongoing decimation of Iraq's Sunni population, the referendum means that in practice "Iraq" no longer exists. In its place is a Shiite state dominated by Iran, the de facto new nation of Kurdistan, and a shrinking population of Sunnis tottering between annihilation or reservation-like existence, depending on whether the United States uses the last of its influence to sketch out red lines or abandons the people to fate.

The waste comes in that a better version of a de facto tri-state Iraq was available in 2006. Every life lost (out of a million some, including 4,424 Americans), every dollar spent (in the trillions), and every unanticipated outcome suffered (rise of Islamic State, conflict in Syria, de-democratization of Turkey) since then has been unnecessary.

The post-World War One failure to create a Kurdish state resulted in 30 million Kurds scattered across modern Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The 2003 American invasion of Iraq destroyed civil order in much of the area populated by those Kurds and opened the door to Iranian influence. Iran and its Iraqi-Shiite allies directed political violence against Iraqi Sunnis, paving the way for a Sunni protector, Islamic State, to move in.

When the American-trained (cost: $25 billion) Iraqi national army dropped its weapons and ran in 2014, and Shiite militias proved too weak to fill the breach, Obama reinserted the American military into Iraq, saving the Kurds, by then also under threat from........

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