Biden’s Revenge: David Ignatius claims Iraq now ‘effectively partitioned’

posted at 4:41 pm on June 16, 2014 by Noah Rothman

In 2006, Vice President Joe Biden co-authored a New York Times op-ed in which he suggested that the only way to create a stable environment in Iraq was to partition the country along ethnic and religious lines. The authors’ hope was to integrate these semi-autonomous zones into a federal system that would preserve the fragile Iraqi peace once maintained by force. A newly Democratic U.S. Senate enthusiastically endorsed that plan in 2007, but it fell out of favor in the wake of the successful “surge” strategy.

That idea seems to making a comeback, however, as Iraq descends into chaos as the insurgent Islamist group ISIS continues its advance.

Speaking to MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on Monday, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said that the ISIS had “effectively partitioned” Iraq.

One of the co-authors of the famous Biden op-ed, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie Gelb, is less than sanguine about the prospects of a truly divided Iraq. Speaking to Washington Post reporters over the weekend, Gelb said that a true partitioning of the country would create three new states, none of which are economically viable on their own.

“This is the worst of all possible worlds – anarchy!” he told the Post. He is not alone.

Reidar Visser, a historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford who is based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, has been a vocal critic of the way that the United States has stressed proportional sectarian representation rather than national Iraqi unity. He sees the current situation as disastrous, and worries that it may widen. “A formal partition of Iraq would add fuel to the flames of Syria and potentially could intensify current sectarian strife in places like Lebanon and Saudi Arabia,” he writes in an e-mail.

But the division of Iraq is becoming a de facto reality.

Observing that Iraq has devolved into two warring ethno-religious states and a third, relatively stable Kurdistan in the North, the columnist David Frum asked if the U.S. was best served by abandoning the effort to mediate that conflict and focus on securing its vital interests:

To which Ed Morrissey replied with another question: maybe it’s not merely in American interests but the West’s interests, both in economic and security terms, to treat Iraq as three distinct states:

While a divided Iraq, even in a federalist structure, was not the preferred method for maintaining peace in Iraq, it may be the only remaining viable option. An international peacekeeping force of the scale necessary to enforce a cease fire between sectarian groups is simply not forthcoming.

While diplomats around the world debate the future of Iraq, observers are beginning to notice that the country has been “effectively partitioned” for some time.


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One wrong thing about this, the towelheads of isis are not going to settle for a partitioned iraq, and after they get iraq they won’t suddenly stop there.

What…you were thinking they would?

Diluculo on June 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Fools and their fences, what makes any of you think partition will be stable?

rob verdi on June 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

The Sunnis won’t accept it. It gives the oil to the Shiites and the Kurds.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Diluculo on June 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

ISIS doesn’t have the manpower to keep what they have, let alone expand. The only thing they have going for them now is the cowardice of their opposition.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Has ISIS stopped?

Sven on June 16, 2014 at 4:51 PM

We should have partitioned it ourselves – into “Unleaded”, “Premium”, and “Ultra”.

Rix on June 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

I actually supported this plan. The Muslims have been killing each other for decades why keep them together?

Separate the different functions from each other.
Assuming that you can provide artificial peace between Muslims who hate each other is the height of stupidity.

Savages will always be savages

weedisgood on June 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Let the countdown begin for beating up on Noah for partitioning Iraq……..

Bmore on June 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

The only thing they have going for them now is the cowardice of their opposition.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 4:49 PM

ISIS doesn’t have the manpower to keep what they have, let alone expand. Pretty much the genesis of every empire in history.

de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

The Muslims have been killing each other for decades why keep them together?

Decades? Try CENTURIES.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Let’s do that again:

ISIS doesn’t have the manpower to keep what they have, let alone expand. The only thing they have going for them now is the cowardice of their opposition.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Pretty much the genesis of every empire in history.

de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 4:54 PM

The Biden Doctrine.

It’s come to this.

forest on June 16, 2014 at 4:54 PM

anytime they’re fighting each other, they stop attacking us.

the only thing we have to worry about vis a vis the middle east is figuring out how to wean ourselves off their oil.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 4:54 PM

That idea seems to making a comeback, however, as Iraq descends into chaos as the insurgent Islamist group ISIS continues its advance.

Great plan.

I like this plan.

How exactly do you get the Shia Baghdad government on board? What do they get out of this? Are they expected to just surrender the capital Baghdad?

Iran is going to go along with this why?

ISIS is going to try to chop the heads off of the negotiating team, so how will that dialogue proceed?

The Kurds already have what they want so why should they give anything up for it?

The Gulf States are backing ISIS despite their claims to the contrary. Why would they back a Shia government in Baghdad friendly to Iran?

Turkey doesn’t want an independent Kurdish state on their border, so how do you get them to go along with it?

Other than these minor details its a great plan.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Canadians?!?!

Bmore on June 16, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Decades? Try CENTURIES.

Resist We Much on June 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

My mistake. Thanks for the correction!

weedisgood on June 16, 2014 at 4:57 PM

One wrong thing about this, the towelheads of isis are not going to settle for a partitioned iraq, and after they get iraq they won’t suddenly stop there.

What…you were thinking they would?

Diluculo on June 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

They are not going to get all of Iraq because the Kurds will stop them in their portion, the Iranians/Arab Shia will at some point stop them in the South and East, the Turks will stop their advance in the North, Assad/Hezbollah has already stop their advance in the West, etc.

This is not the German Blitzkrieg we are talking about here. This is a bunch rejects fighting other rejects. And the only thing of value in that part of the world is energy and who is going to pump it out of the ground for them, and buy it from them, and in some cases refine it for them, if they are always beheading infidels and blowing up pipelines, etc.

William Eaton on June 16, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Partition will only turn civil war into a real war with borders.

One more, the congenitally stupid American elite thinks that technocratic solutions can be found to matters of blood and faith.

Pincher Martin on June 16, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Let Allah sort it out.

John the Libertarian on June 16, 2014 at 5:00 PM

de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 4:54 PM

No doubt, but ISIS doesn’t exist in the vacuum those other barbarian empires had.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:02 PM

The Muslims have been killing each other for decades centuries why keep them together?

Umm, why keep them apart? The iran-iraq war kept them both off our front yard for years and years. Let them fight amongst themselves a few more centuries. I’m cool with that.

Harbingeing on June 16, 2014 at 5:02 PM

How exactly would such a plan be dictated to those on the ground given that the US is on the verge of evacuating its embassy?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:02 PM

As I said last week: Why would anyone suspect the radical Sunnis are going to respect these new boundaries?

During 43′s run we heard the left tell us that we simply shouldn’t be imposing our political will on these Arab nations since we don’t understand their perspective. Well, they’ve been demonstrating their perspective for the last couple of years now and that perspective seems to be based on complete middle eastern domination. The Sunnis have shown no inclination to remain behind imaginary lines; I can’t imagine they’ll be impressed with Obama/Biden authoring new ones.

BKeyser on June 16, 2014 at 5:02 PM

I argued this concept long before 2006. I abandoned it because there was then nothing to stop the Sunni Iraq from essentially overwhelming Shiite Iraq (possibly igniting a war with Iran) and then going after the oil fields.

In the end, as long as Islam prevailed, there was going to be bloodshed without a strong US presence.

The only position I haven’t changed: arm the Kurds.

mankai on June 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM

The Kurds already have what they want so why should they give anything up for it?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Their self proclaimed southern border is quite a bit farther south than the one they now protect.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Let Allah sort it out.

John the Libertarian on June 16, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Excellent! Yogi Berras fork in the road analogy.

Bmore on June 16, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I thought it was a good idea at the time but all the smart people knew better, as usual.

cimbri on June 16, 2014 at 5:08 PM

In 2006, Vice President Joe Biden co-authored a New York Times op-ed in which he suggested
=====================

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canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:09 PM

As long as Islam exists, there will never be peace in the ME or anywhere else whether Iraq is partitioned or not. Muslims want a caliphate, not a partitioned this, that or the other.

Also, Ignatius:

“ISIS does not have universal support; quite the opposite; it burns too hot. The Sunni tribal leaders do not like ISIS. They’re fighting with them, but they’ve told me in conversations in the last two months ‘we do not want to be their allies permanently.’”

Whaaat?? So they’re fighting with ISIS but this clown thinks that just because they tell him that might not always be the case, that’s something upon which to base a strategy? Talk about gullible. I guess these tribal leaders he he had nice chats with must be the “moderate” mass murderers.

The stupidity of the analysis of all this is mind boggling.

WhatSlushfund on June 16, 2014 at 5:10 PM

The Moose Limbs will kill each other no matter what we do, so why stop them? I’m sure Allah has enough virgins in inventory.

307wolverine on June 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Fools and their fences, what makes any of you think partition will be stable?

rob verdi on June 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

It happens. Look at Europe post World War II.
What happens is that the extremist leaders get something good going on for themselves, they start to get fat and happy, or their underlings decide they want to be fat and happy and off the leadership and settle down to enjoy what they gained. If they end up being better off than before, they will settle for that. Only when things start to get worse and worse will they start being aggressive again. This is assuming that they ever get to the three divided areas.

Diversity is conflict. So, once they get rid of the diversity, the conflict will subside for a while.

astonerii on June 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Their self proclaimed southern border is quite a bit farther south than the one they now protect.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Yeah, and they didn’t get what they claimed. Now they have a chance to take it in the chaos. They would be trading a strong hand for a weaker hand.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

In 2006, Vice President Joe Biden co-authored a New York Times op-ed in which he suggested that the only way to create a stable environment in Iraq was to partition the country along ethnic and religious lines.

That would have been SENATOR Biden

dentalque on June 16, 2014 at 5:12 PM

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

That “farther south”, contains the Iraqi northern oil fields. The coalition government paid off the Kurds to give up their occupation, but not their claim.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:14 PM

@davidfrum Better Q: Is it now in Turkey’s interest to strengthen the Kurds as a buffer between themselves and ISIS?

— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) June 16, 2014

LOL.

The Turks were the ones who were so dead-set against any partition that allowed for a Kurdish state. Turkey threatened to invade such a state, which I have little doubt they would do. The Turks are just itching to have another wild massacre. They love that.

The fact is that the Kurds have our most reliable ally among all the Iraqi factions. The SUnnis and Shiites are dog-sh!t who can’t be trusted, at all. They are lowlife scum.

But, what should have happened at the beginning, as I have written time and time again, is that after the invasion we should have taken the oil fields and left the rest of Iraq running around in the desert stabbing each other in the butt, as arabs are wont to do. We could have given the Kurds a little help and support as our only allies, but the control of the oil fields had to stay out of the hands of the people there, since the only thing anyone in the gulf uses the oil fields for is to get power and threaten everyone else on Earth – first and foremost, the West (meaning the US and Israel mostly).

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 16, 2014 at 5:14 PM

anytime they’re fighting each other, they stop attacking us.

the only thing we have to worry about vis a vis the middle east is figuring out how to wean ourselves off their oil.

How the FRACK do we do that? :-)

LouisianaLightning on June 16, 2014 at 5:14 PM

raq violence
1h
Iraqi officials say army helicopter shot down during clashes with militants west of Baghdad – @AP
End of alert

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:14 PM

https://twitter.com/AP_Politics

AP Politics @AP_Politics · 7h

Pentagon orders amphibious transport ship USS Mesa Verde to Persian Gulf as Iraq worries grow. http://apne.ws/1i0Xo0O

canopfor on June 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM

One wrong thing about this, the towelheads of isis are not going to settle for a partitioned iraq, and after they get iraq they won’t suddenly stop there.

What…you were thinking they would?

Diluculo on June 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Exactly. Anybody who thinks they’ll stop at Syria and Iraq is kidding themselves.

These people want to kill Shias. Thus, you go where the Shias are.

You can’t re-enact Babi Yar in Iraq. It’s like trying to do it in Poland.

formwiz on June 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

That “farther south”, contains the Iraqi northern oil fields. The coalition government paid off the Kurds to give up their occupation, but not their claim.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:14 PM

And those aren’t majority Kurdish areas. Kirkuk is only around 48% Kurdish. Would this partition plan be giving ethnic Arab regions to Kurdistan?

Why would Baghdad give up those oilfields/Arab regions to Kurdistan?

Why wouldn’t Kurdistan try to occupy them for the needed oil revenue?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:18 PM

The Sunnis won’t accept it. It gives the oil to the Shiites and the Kurds.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 4:47 PM

In the case of the Kurds, they’ll have to accept it. The peshmerga have been trained by the IDF.

Have you been wondering why ISIL has left the Kurds alone? Because the Kurds obliterate the apelike head-choppers from the Bronze Age.

When Tall Afar fell, first the security forces fled the city without a fight, and then the local militias surrendered to ISIL, knowing full well that now they’ll get butchered.

The Arab mindset is incomprehensible to me. Would you rather go down fighting–killed by a bullet–or would you rather have your head slowly carved off?

A Chair of Some Kind on June 16, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Typically you would say that having most of the oil in one of the three regional states would be a bad thing because there would be a fight over money, however these people are so nuts that they couldn’t careless about money

Tater Salad on June 16, 2014 at 5:20 PM

These people want to kill Shias. Thus, you go where the Shias are.

You can’t re-enact Babi Yar in Iraq. It’s like trying to do it in Poland.

formwiz on June 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Yep. The people who talk about partition like it’s any kind of a solution are just stuttering babbleheads.

ISIS’s very name tells you they aren’t concerned with respecting borders.

Pincher Martin on June 16, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Make Iraqi Kurdistan a U.S. Territory

Occams Stubble on June 16, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Make Iraqi Kurdistan a U.S. Territory

Occams Stubble on June 16, 2014 at 5:22 PM

That is flat out insane.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:25 PM

sharrukin,cozmo: The Kurds do not have what they want. There are significant numbers of Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iran. Just to muddy the waters even more.

RedPepper on June 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Now when Biden is debating Hillary in the 2016 debates he can tell her “I told you so”.

albill on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Tater Salad on June 16, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Extra points for using couldn’t care less correctly.

crankyoldlady on June 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Very good read on the situation.

She is a little more pessimistic than me. But has her facts straight.

And those aren’t majority Kurdish areas.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Not now, but have been historically. Saddam moved them out and moved shiites in. Erstwhile allies against ISIS, and the shiites don’t have the moxie the Kurds have.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Why would Baghdad give up those oilfields/Arab regions to Kurdistan?

Why wouldn’t Kurdistan try to occupy them for the needed oil revenue?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Baghdad would have less of a choice than they do with ISIS.

The Kurds covet that oil. They have their own state to build.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM

The Kurds do not have what they want. There are significant numbers of Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iran. Just to muddy the waters even more.

RedPepper on June 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

I know and they have a better bet of taking it militarily than they do at the bargaining table. The YPG has been sporadically battling ISIS and others in Syria to take those Kurdish regions.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Just to muddy the waters even more.

RedPepper on June 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Those waters aren’t muddy. The Kurds have never kept their end game secret.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

No doubt, but ISIS doesn’t exist in the vacuum those other barbarian empires had.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:02 PM

There’s never been a vacuum in that region. Scythians and Hittites and Assyrians and Babylonians and Medes and Persians and Parthians have been jostling for preeminence for millennia when they weren’t under the greater thumbs of the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, or the British and French.

Granted, none of them were edged in by the Russians, the Europeans, the U.S. and the Arab oil magnates as currently, but the unwillingness or inability of these “Great Powers” to do very much in the region right now is creating precisely the vacuum that could allow one or more those warring factions, sects, or movements to break out of the pack and become the predominant power in the region. Something Iran clearly would like to do, something which some unholy alliance of ISIS, Baathists, and other discontented Sunnis are attempting now. Play their cards right with the Saudis, and why couldn’t they consolidate their gains?

de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Not now, but have been historically. Saddam moved them out and moved shiites in. Erstwhile allies against ISIS, and the shiites don’t have the moxie the Kurds have.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

We are talking about a partition plan.

Do you really see the US giving ethnic regions to be ruled/ethnically cleansed to other hostile groups?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I dislike having to agree with Joe “the Gaffster” Biden, but his idea represented a foreseeable consequence, although he was probably unaware of its real possibility. That suggestion may now be seeing fruition. We’ll see …

Infidelius on June 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Agree with Dyer.

de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Gelb said that a true partitioning of the country would create three new states, none of which are economically viable on their own.

And sooner or later, 1/3 is going to want the other 2/3′s.

GarandFan on June 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Very good read on the situation.

She is a little more pessimistic than me. But has her facts straight.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:29 PM

That is someone who knows their business.

ISIS isn’t fighting a war in a way that the west really understands. More akin to the Toyota war against Qaddafi in Chad I suppose.

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:39 PM

People do love their Grand Ideas that don’t match reality.

Don’t get me wrong. At least one of the partitions would make a certain amount of sense. The Kurds should have been given their own country years ago. The only reason they never were is that there were a lot of Kurds in Turkey, and Turkey didn’t want the Kurds to have a separate country and start getting ideas.

But as badly as Shiites and Sunnis want to kill each other, the proposed partitions are just too mixed to form independent units. There are too many Shiites in the Sunni partition, and vice versa. The only way to partition them is to draw the partitions, then forcibly move the Shiites and Sunnis around to match.

Now, if you’re willing to give up on the idea of three big partitions and set up much smaller, tribal-based provinces with local control, and a federal government structured to prevent majorities from being able to override the rights of minorities, then you could have something.

In such a structure, the military would only be able to fight against foreign threats, and any attempt to use the military domestically would dissolve the government. All power needs to be at the local level.

People keep saying Arabs are incapable of Democracy, but everyone is incapable of democracy. Democracy doesn’t work. The only answer is a republic with checks and balances that prevent anyone gathering too much power.

Even there, I don’t expect it to last too long. It’s just the best of any available options. Devolve the power to local provinces, and the local powers can cooperate to form the federal government. In fact, it’s not even necessary to have elected officials at the federal level, as long as the federal level gets its power from the local levels.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 16, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Do you really see the US giving ethnic regions to be ruled/ethnically cleansed to other hostile groups?

sharrukin on June 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

What other choice is there for the lightbringer.

There’s never been a vacuum in that region.
de rigueur on June 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I took his words to mean outnumbered invading empires in general: Japanese, Nazis, Bolsheviks and Red Chinese are the one’s that came to mind.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 5:41 PM

One of the very few times I wholeheartedly agreed with Joe BiteMe(TM) and still believe it to this day. In fact, if we could go back and repartition all of the former Colonies along natural/ethinic boundaries, we would have seen much less wars & strife than we have had by arbitarily drawing lines coneived by the progressive elites of their day.

Gelb said that a true partitioning of the country would create three new states, none of which are economically viable on their own.

“This is the worst of all possible worlds – anarchy!” he told the Post. He is not alone.

Again, progressive elites proscibing the utopian worldview of peace andharmony because we said so. And how would the 3 new nations not be economically viable on their own? Kurdiastan wuld make it just fine. It would be up to Sunny Iraq and Shitty Iraq to learn to make do with what they have within their boundaries and quit worrying about killing each other for allah. At least the rest of us could stand back and watch them fight nation on nation, instead of these constant terror attacks on each other.

Again, look at Kurdistan and how little affected they are by terrorism, other than the sort stemming from a proxy war with Turkey. Too bad for Turkey if they don’t want a Kurd nation on their border, but then again, they’re the ones that decimated the Armenians, among others.

AH_C on June 16, 2014 at 5:48 PM

TGtN: A partition would quite likely devolve into the sort of mess that occurred with the partition of British India into India and Pakistan — but with an even higher level of violence, ethnic cleansing, etc. ; especially since there would be no one in charge at the top trying to steer it.

RedPepper on June 16, 2014 at 5:52 PM

The borders in the Middle East were not drawn by the people who live there. They were drawn by colonial occupiers.

We tend to put country first in terms of our loyalties. In the Middle East and some other parts of the world people place a higher emphasis on tribe and religion than on country. In those places country is at best a distant third.

myiq2xu on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

“Which side are we On?” Sec of State-John Kerry

Goodie on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

“segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” — George Wallace

rhombus on June 16, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Ruh-roh… Joe gonna feel smart now! He hears the country calling for his brainy leadership!! JOE FOR PRESIDENT!!!

Marcola on June 16, 2014 at 5:59 PM

The ‘Mosul’ partition, should read ‘Al Qaeda’

faraway on June 16, 2014 at 6:00 PM

No … you cannot simply “partition” Iraq …
That’s what the media and politicians who don’t have the stomach to deal with the problem would like you to think though.

1. There are few “clean lines” of religious and ethnic distinction in Iraq, even though everyone seems to think there are. Any partitioning would involve severe forms of “ethnic” cleansing – and massive relocations. The violence you’d see from this would fuel generations of civil war there.

2. Iraq’s major source of revenue is oil (over 90% of government revenues) and you can’t divide the resources evenly – or without creating MAJOR losers. The Sunni’s in Western Iraq don’t have ANY oil revenue. The Kurds in the North do – but no secure way to export oil. Even the Shite South is complicated – because they’re divided too. The Shia’s in the extreme south would likely opt to ally closely with Iran – giving Iran control of the only port in Iraq. Iran would control ALL oil coming out of Iraq – even Kurdish oil, if the Kurds made an agreement with the Iraqi’s to transport their oil – which they would have to. Iran would essentially control all oil leaving Iraq – including the two offshore terminals. There may be even more terminals now – but last time I was over there (2004) – there were only two and one was broke-dick. I think they’ve since fixed it though. Anyway – regardless – the Iranians would defacto control all of them. Just FYI – the Iranians already have a “choke point” on ALL oil transiting the Persian Gulf – right at the Straight of Hormuz (SOH). The SOH is only about 40 km wide. You want to talk about the balance of power being upset … let the Iranians control the strategic SOH choke point along with EVERYTHING coming out of Iraq.

3. The Turks have repeatedly stated they would not tolerate the Kurds having their own “state”. Ironically, a Kurdish partition is the most sane partition you could make. The Kurds are organized and efficient and tolerate other religions and ethnicities. It’s not a Western Liberal paradise by any means – they have issues, but they’re under control. Economically – they have potential – but they are totally landlocked and have no port. They’re known to be fierce fighters – even ISIS doesn’t want to mess with them (right now anyway).

4. If you partition Iraq – the Shia partitions are going to be controlled eventually by Iran. The Sunni partitions will be controlled by either radical Mohammedans or some other Sunni nation is going to have to intervene to beat them down. And the Kurds? They’re surrounded on all sides by people who hate them – not a single friend.

“Partitioning” means “abdication” of the problem and making a giant-leap of faith that whatever occurs there will be in our national interests – and in the best interests of the region and it’s inhabitants. I guarantee that that “roll” of the die will be exactly the opposite.

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

The Kurds will probably move to take over the major oilfields around Kirkuk, and fiercely defend their own territory. The ISIS barbarians will probably not attack the Kurds, because their major objective is Baghdad, and they don’t have the air force that Saddam had before he buried his planes.

The Maliki government, which is Shiite-supported, will try to move soldiers from the Shiite south to defend Baghdad. We’ll probably see urban fighting in Baghdad before this is over. The crucial question will be who gets control of Baghdad, and whether Baghdad becomes a base for Al Qaeda terrorists.

Even if the ISIS barbarians get control of Baghdad, they probably won’t go much further, since most of southern Iraq is Shiite, and they were oppressed by Saddam’s regime for decades and will fight to hold their territory.

Those who dream of a “caliphate” in Baghdad will find life difficult, because a “country” which only controls northwestern Iraq and Syria will not have access to the Persian Gulf, nor to oil in the Kurdish areas, and the Assad regime (Baathist, like Saddam) has its own enemies in Syria. The Shiite south will not want to trade with ISIS.

Exit question: will the Shiites in southern Iraq align themselves with Iran, or do the Babylonians not want to share land with Persians?

Steve Z on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Splitting up Iraq?

This was James Baker III’s idea.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-project-partition-iraq-into-three-proxy-states/3418

U.S. to recommend federalization of Iraq

The U.S. administration may recommend an establishment of a federation in Iraq with three highly autonomous regions, according to the Sunday Times report.

The paper reported that an independent commission set up by U.S. Congress with the approval of President George Bush may recommend carving up Iraq into the Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish highly autonomous regions.

The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, the former U.S. Secretary of State during the first Gulf War in 1991, is preparing to report after next month’s congressional elections. Baker, 76, an old Bush family friend, said last week that he met the president frequently to discuss “policy and personnel”.

Someone just check with the Global business leaders and the Chamber of Commerce and see what they would prefer (then we’ll save a lot of time, jacking around with that Congress thingy).

PappyD61 on June 16, 2014 at 6:05 PM

TGtN: A partition would quite likely devolve into the sort of mess that occurred with the partition of British India into India and Pakistan — but with an even higher level of violence, ethnic cleansing, etc. ; especially since there would be no one in charge at the top trying to steer it.

RedPepper on June 16, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Exactly.

There is NO simple – NO even “doable” way to partition Iraq.

40% of the population of Iraq lives in the Baghdad / Mosul urban areas. And those areas have all religions and all ethnicities. They’re all entertained economically but if you attempt to partition them – MAJOR UPHEAVALS will occur as these areas are ethnically cleansed by the partition “owners”.

People who advocate partition are cowards who are fooling themselves that this is the right thing to do. The reality is … proponents of partitioning simply don’t have the stomach to deal with the problem.

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:07 PM

That’s it…we are done, over, finished… (and for the Airplane fans let’s throw in a Roger as well) when we have JOE BIDEN as the leading thinker on foriegn policy. I’d rather just aim my shotgun to the west and fire a warning shot.

Von Kleist on June 16, 2014 at 6:08 PM

Exit question: will the Shiites in southern Iraq align themselves with Iran, or do the Babylonians not want to share land with Persians?

Steve Z on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

And a good question it is.

cozmo on June 16, 2014 at 6:08 PM

Al Qaeda is the one doing the partitioning. We are having no say in the matter.

faraway on June 16, 2014 at 6:09 PM

PappyD61 on June 16, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Except that ISIS won’t be a part of any “federalization”. They may be satisfied with only part of Iraq … but they aren’t going to become members of any “federation”.

What proponents of partitioning REALLY want to do – is let “natural partitioning” occur. They believe that the current fight with ISIS will result in some kind of natural partition of the country that results in equilibrium on all sides. And that’s the stupidest damn thing I’ve ever heard of.

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Exit question: will the Shiites in southern Iraq align themselves with Iran, or do the Babylonians not want to share land with Persians?

Steve Z on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

The Muslim faith places religion over ethnicity or national origin.

OF COURSE they will ally with Iran.

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:11 PM

“Which side are we On?” Sec of State-John Kerry
Goodie on June 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

“Let me check the newspaper…” President Obama

Marcola on June 16, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Fixed. Your side refuses to let us be energy independent. Obama has been engaged in a war against US energy since his 2008 campaign.

blink on June 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM

The US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

The US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Are you kidding? While technically true – none of it is due to Obama.

Most of the expansion in energy has taken place on private, non-government owned lands. Obama will not approve the Keystone Pipeline and he’s responsible for the loss of THOUSANDS of oil industry jobs on the Gulf Coast when he had his “moratorium” on expanding drilling.

Sorry – but name ONE SINGLE THING OBAMA has done that contributed to the expansion of oil and gas revenues.

NAME ONE.

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Biden, Kerry and Hillary on Iraq: hawks, doves, hawks again.

Plus, never forget this.

Schadenfreude on June 16, 2014 at 6:23 PM

the only thing we have to worry about vis a vis the middle east is figuring out how to wean ourselves off their oil.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Your cow ain’t helping. You can wean yourself off and tell obama to do the same. He’s been in an air-conditioned 10,000 square feet house for days, in the desert.

Schadenfreude on June 16, 2014 at 6:25 PM

The US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

By YOUR logic – the man sitting in the oval office gets CREDIT – simply because he’s sitting in the oval office.

I wonder if you’ll also logically include the FAILURES and attribute them to him? Benghazi … Fast and Furious … the IRS scandal … the loss of Iraq … the Ukraine problem …

And everything else that’s hit the fan?

Hey … if he’s the one responsible for the oil and gas boom … simply because he’s sitting his skinny, beta-male ass in a chair in the White House – then he’s responsible for this other shit too … no?

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Q: is it not now the US interest in Iraq that the Kurds end up controlling as much as possible of the failing nation’s oil reserves?

75% of Iraqi oil is in the south. The Kurds are in the north. So, ah, no.

Right on top of it, you are, David Frum.

Joseph K on June 16, 2014 at 6:29 PM

“Sorry – but name ONE SINGLE THING OBAMA has done that contributed to the expansion of oil and gas revenues.

NAME ONE.”

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:21 PM

By stalling on the Keystone Pipeline he’s helped pad Warren Beffets pockets….. oh wait…

Von Kleist on June 16, 2014 at 6:32 PM

grrr Buffett

Von Kleist on June 16, 2014 at 6:33 PM

The (private) US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under in spite of obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Fixed it, for history, you liar.

He moped about “climate change” just this past weekend. Get out of his azz, before you choke, you disgusting tiny creature.

Schadenfreude on June 16, 2014 at 6:34 PM

Steve Z on June 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Interesting analysis.

WhatSlushfund on June 16, 2014 at 7:05 PM

The US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Got news for ya, not everything that has happened since 2009 can be attributed to Barky. His overreach on energy has caused energy prices to remain high when they needn’t be. The amount of black gold and natural gas flowing from Texas is enough to drown every Saudi. Why is the price high? Because Barky likes to saber rattle when he promised to get us out of the “misadventure” of Iraq. Well, Barky, you wanted out. You’re out. If you go back in, it’s all on you.

I maintain I should get more credit for the oil boom than the teleprompter reader in chief. After all, I live in the state that makes all the others have PLENTY of energy (well except maybe for the Dakotas).

john1schn on June 16, 2014 at 7:38 PM

When can we partition the former United States?

VorDaj on June 16, 2014 at 7:40 PM

People who advocate partition are cowards who are fooling themselves that this is the right thing to do. The reality is … proponents of partitioning simply don’t have the stomach to deal with the problem.

HondaV65 on June 16, 2014 at 6:07 PM

C’mon man, is that necessary? There is no pain-free option available here, only the least bad. Let the Moose Limbs figure it out.

307wolverine on June 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Diversity is conflict. So, once they get rid of the diversity, the conflict will subside for a while.

astonerii on June 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Exactly.

The lunatic idea that the way to stability is to jam people into the same legal structure with people they hate is what has given us the current unfolding disaster, just as those of us who called for federal partition of Iraq 10 years ago predicted it would.

Some people are incapable of learning. The funniest monkeys are the ones still squealing here and elsewhere about how “clueless” and “stupid” and “idiotic” they still think those of us who called this correctly a decade ago are even after we have been proven to be correct.

Now we have the Arab Sunnis under ISIS because the Arab Sunnis felt they had no choice, and we have the Arab Shiites begging the Persian Shiites for help even though they fear and mistrust them.

By forcing them together we have caused them to choose the deadliest options available to them.

Nothing could be clearer. But those of us who said this would happen are the “idiots.”

Sigh. This is just like arguing with progressives.

fadetogray on June 16, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Energy cost will necessarily soar. 0

Bmore on June 16, 2014 at 7:50 PM

The US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Every time we call for drilling off the coast or at ANWR or elsewhere, you guys scream about how it won’t be on line for 8 to 12 years at best, so why bother.

Then you turn around and want to claim credit for high production when your guy has been in office for 5.5 years??

Seriously?

fadetogray on June 16, 2014 at 7:54 PM

I wonder how many LIV will think the Ottoman Empire is a furniture store?

JohnFLob on June 16, 2014 at 7:56 PM

The US has enjoyed the greatest energy boom in history under obama, dumdum, and none of your silly excuses can ever change that.

everdiso on June 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

You’ve heard the term “in spite of”?

You’re hilarious.

CW on June 16, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Everdiso is the classic willing useful idiot.

CW on June 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

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