More specifically, U.S. complicity in Shiite ethnic cleansing. Redeploy to Kurdistan if need be, he says, and let the Shiites do what they have to do to put down the insurgency. And if that means ethnic cleansing, hey — an 80% solution is better than none.

At least as interesting as the op-ed is Think Progress’s post about it, from which harsh denunciations of Kondracke, a Fox News regular, are curiously absent. I wonder why. Maybe this passage will shed some light; it’s the crux of Kondracke’s piece, and yet, coincidentally, the only quotable bit TP doesn’t quote:

Prudence calls for preparation of a Plan B. The withdrawal policy advocated by most Democrats virtually guarantees catastrophic ethnic cleansing – but without any guarantee that a government friendly to the United States would emerge. Almost certainly, Shiites will dominate Iraq because they outnumber Sunnis three to one. But the United States would get no credit for helping the Shiites win. In fact, America’s credibility would suffer because it abandoned its mission. And, there is no guarantee that al-Sadr – currently residing in Iran and resting his militias – would not emerge as the victor in a power struggle with al-Maliki’s Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

Realpolitik served ice cold. We all understand the dilemma here: we’re the only thing preventing a pogrom, but it’s at a huge human cost to our own military. At what point does our responsibility to get our boys out of harm’s way morally justify leaving a power vacuum within which Iraqi Arabs can slam away at each other? We’re not going to solve a Sunni/Shiite rift that’s existed for 1400 years so why waste any more American lives trying to postpone it? The answer, or my answer, in two words: Pam Hess. It’d be unconscionable for the United States to acquiesce in ethnic cleansing in a country whose security we’ve taken responsibility for; if you believe some on the left (and right), it’s unconscionable for us to acquiesce in ethnic cleansing even in countries whose security we’re not responsible for, like Sudan. When we leave, we have to leave with a good faith belief that the two sides can co-exist, which is why political reconciliation within parliament is so important and why we’re stuck there until it happens. If you take Kondracke seriously, the best solution might actually be to have the Air Force carpet-bomb Anbar: it’d solve the problem instantly, we’d get “credit for helping the Shiites win,” and it’d send a none-too-subtle message to Sadr that he’d best not antagonize us in the future. It would also send the Sunni countries in the Middle East into a frenzy, of course, and would mean the destruction of a part of Iraq where the leadership is, increasingly, unabashedly on our side and has taken the lead in fighting Al Qaeda — but of course, Shiite ethnic cleansing would accomplish the same things.

Strangest of all, in what sense does Kondracke think “American credibility” would be served by letting Sadr put the Sunnis to the sword? We’d be hearing about it from the left and the Islamists for the next thousand years. Al Qaeda would make it a centerpiece of their recruiting strategy. Even Iran, the ostensible beneficiaries, would demagogue the hell out of it with crocodile tears about their “Sunni brothers” whom the Sadrists had no choice but to fight after the U.S. goaded them into it.

The irony is that it probably wouldn’t happen anyway. The Saudis aren’t going to sit by while Shiite fanatics run wild in a Sunni area; they’ve already promised as much through one of their mouthpieces. So what Kondracke’s really calling for, even if he doesn’t realize it, is a Saudi-Iranian proxy war (or actual war) with Iraqis in the middle.

Exit question: Kondracke says he knows one member of Congress secretly supports his plan. Who?