Iraq, the Kurds, and Israel: Entwined Futures

Imagine a village of 220 inhabitants (the international community of nations). It has one heavily armed police constable (the United States) flanked by two lightly equipped assistants (the European Union and NATO). The hamlet is beset by a bunch of ruffians (the Saddam Hussein regime) who molest their own families and, at times, violently lash out at their neighbours. These delinquents mock the authorities and ignore their decisions and decrees.

Yet, the village council (the United Nations) – the source of legitimacy – refuses to authorize the constable to apprehend the villains and dispose of them, by force of arms if need be. The elders see no imminent or present danger to their charges and are afraid of potential escalation whose evil outcomes could far outweigh anything the felons can achieve.

Incensed by this laxity, the constable (the USA) – backed only by some of the inhabitants (the “coalition of the willing”) – breaks into the home of one of the more egregious thugs and expels or kills him. The constable claims to have acted preemptively and in self-defence, as the criminal, long in defiance of the law, was planning to attack its representatives.

Was the constable right in acting the way he did?

On the one hand, he may have saved lives and prevented a conflagration whose consequences no one could predict. On the other hand, by ignoring the edicts of the village council and the expressed will of many of the denizens, he has placed himself above the law, as its absolute interpreter and enforcer.