Whether we want it to or not, Iraq is moving toward partition... The quickest path out of this morass would be facilitating that reality. From the OpEd:
Gradually, leaders on all sides of the Bosnian fight came to see it was in their interest to separate their peoples. And once the ethnic groups were given sanctuary, it became possible to negotiate a peace that was imperfect, but which was better than the reverberating splashes of blood.
Today, many of the people active in Bosnia believe they have a model that could help stabilize Iraq. They acknowledge the many differences between the two places, but Iraq, they note, is a disintegrating nation. Ethnic cleansing is dividing Baghdad, millions are moving, thousands are dying and the future looks horrific.
The best answer, then, is soft partition: create a central government with a few key powers; reinforce strong regional governments; separate the sectarian groups as much as possible.
Twenty or 50 thousand troops are not likely to change the violence in Baghdad: The situation has devolved into a series of retaliatory killings... and as I mentioned in the previous post, one group may be our "friends" one day and our enemy the next.
As Brooks puts it:
In short, logic, circumstances and politics are leading inexorably toward soft partition. The Bush administration has been slow to recognize its virtues because it is too dependent on the Green Zone Iraqis. The Iraqis talk about national unity but their behavior suggests they want decentralization. Sooner or later, everybody will settle on this sensible policy, having exhausted all the alternatives.
Our fearless leader is unlikely, however, to go this route. Of course, it's likely the path that would create the most stable outcome, in the shortest order, with the least loss of life. It would most certainly entail a tremendous amount of diplomacy, and therein lies the rub: this government has shown little, if any, inclination to talk to groups with which it disagrees.
Barring a congress that grows a spine, stay-the-course will be the path through 2008.