The Corner

Splitting up iraq

Belated follow-up to Biden’s op-ed in the Times Monday urging the soft break-up of Iraq into autonomous regions. This is a serious idea (which goes without saying since the piece is co-authored with Les Gelb), not nearly as risible as Kerry’s May 15 deadline. But I think it’s wrong to think that going this route would necessarily help much. What would you do with the ethnically mixed Baghdad? Biden and Gelb write that their scheme would need “a viable central government in Baghdad.” Well, you only are going to be able to create one with exactly the sort of hard political and diplomatic work to forge some sort of unity government that we are involved with now. Also, even if al Anbar province goes its own way, we will presumably want to keep it from being over-run by jihadis, which means we will have a security role there until Iraqis can do it themselves. Finally, if we are going to pull out by 2008, as Biden and Gelb propose, we need an Iraqi military to fill the vacuum, so training one will continue to be a priority. In other words, the Biden/Gelb plan still leaves us with our three most pressing and difficult tasks: creating a coherent and viable central government, securing the country from jihadis, and building an Iraqi military.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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