Over a year ago, Joe Biden, Les Gelb and others proposed a federal solution for Iraq. The basic argument was that Iraq is a ruptured society and there is no way to reconstitute it from the center.
There is no social trust between Sunnis and Shiites, the federalists observed. There is a winner-take-all mentality, which is not conducive to compromise. There is no tradition of impartial rule or impersonal justice, making it hard to establish big national institutions that won’t favor one tribe or sect.
Biden, Gelb and the federalists suggested a devolution of power to the regions, as envisioned by the Iraqi constitution.
Everybody out of power sympathized with their diagnosis, but everybody in power rejected it. ...
...an ethnically cleansed safe place. Instead of a sort of managed soft partition that at least has a shot of transferring power to the best local people, we’re now getting machine-gun partition that transfers power to the most violent people. For Iraqis, the thug who rules your local gas station rules your life.
The continuing U.S. mistake is an unwillingness to see Iraqi reality sociologically, from the ground up.
I've been with Les Gelb on this since 2003, and am distressed that more anti-war Dems haven't joined Joe Biden in recognizing this as the basis for an actual strategy for extricating ourselves from the midst of Iraq's civil war(s), while remaining cognizant of the future issues of the region. It worries me some that Brooks and I seem to agree on something, but after all, I've recently quoted from both Robert Novak,Peggy Noonan, and Pravda. It's a strange world out there.