Best Defense

Do Iraq and Syria no longer exist? (No. 3): Yes. The sooner we realize it, the better

This process has been underway for a while now Henri Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University: "The border between the two has ceased to exist; in fact it had ceased a long time ago. I had a piece back in 2012 arguing this. The Iraqi and Syrian states have ceded control of ...

via Wikimedia
via Wikimedia

This process has been underway for a while now

Henri Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University:

"The border between the two has ceased to exist; in fact it had ceased a long time ago. I had a piece back in 2012 arguing this.

The Iraqi and Syrian states have ceded control of a number of provinces. If you think of what a state does from the perspective of the locals, especially in far-flung regions, it collects taxes and conscripts. Today there are no taxes to collect, no infrastructure to mend or maintain, and certainly no conscripts. Hence the state does not exist.

But in other parts of Syria and Iraq it continues. Even when (of course if, too) the conflict ends, the U.N. may still continue to recognize Syria and Iraq, but in reality the central government will not be able to gain control for a long time to come. People in border regions will continue to operate as if the border does not exist. This will also be true of the Kurdish border areas."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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