Last month Peter Galbraith, the former ambassador to Croatia, said out loud what many insiders only say in private: the U.S. may have to resign itself to the partitioning of Iraq into (pro-West) Kurdish, (Iran-dominated) Shiite and (wild card) Sunni states. With embedded enmities based on religious and tribal affiliations as well as Saddam Hussein patronage, it may be the only viable alternative to an even bloodier civil war.
“You can’t have a national unity government when there is no nation, no unity and no government,” said Galbraith.
There’s certainly no dearth of partition models and reminders that historic strife and ethnic cleansing can’t be federalized in sovereign whitewash. Cypress and Yugoslavia come readily to mind.
The tragedy in Iraq, of course, would be that 3,000 Americans died – and many more were maimed – for an end-game strategy that looked like a loser as soon as the looting began.