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Stephen Schwartz writes at the Weekly Standard about a conference on the partition of Iraq arranged by Senator Joe Biden.  His first complaint is that there was but a single neocon there. And that was himself.  This might be a fair complaint had the Iraq war not been sold to the American public by this same group using a pack of lies.  If a stranger drives into town on a buldozer and demolishes your house and for years fails to explain why, it is simply is not reasonable to rely totally on his own good graces to restore it to working order.

The subject of the meeting is informed by a paper by Etzoni. It is called Plan Z and it advocates the partition of Iraq.  The paper quotes Schwartz quoting a number of Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish dignitaries.  It also quotes Schwartz on a number of insights about Bosnia and the Dayton agreement. These he objects to.  We are to presume he does so because they are used to support a thesis which he himself does not support.

That he does not support partition of Iraq is clear. But why he does not, is another question. As is the case with so many neocon arguments, the reasons are far below the surface. And they frequenly bear not so much as a passing resemblance to any of the arguments or rationalizations.  He cites as one problem the relocation of families, particularly of families of mixed Sunni-Shia marriages. But it's clear he is not very concerned about this problem. He complains about the details of the plan, talking about the distinction between "hard" partition and "soft" partition.  

I have seen maps of the Iraq.  For the most part, it seems that partition hard or soft - or of any texture or consistency - would be a feasible task for much of the nation. There are, however,  at least two cities where partition seems all but impossible.  One is Baghdad itself, which is a patchwork quilt of Sunni, Shia, and mixed ethnicity neighborhoods.  Another is Kirkuk.  Perhaps there are a few others. In both cases the problem is compounded by the fact that the cities are located on what would otherwise be natural boundaries between areas.  How one secures a city in such a situation seems to be well outside even the experience in once Yugoslavia.  This seems like a stronger argument than Schwartz invokes.  He does talk of the Shia shrine at Samarra which has been devastated by two bombings; and he reasonably objects to the idea that it should remain in Sunni control.

He  cites the uneven distribution of oil, water, and arable land. But he fails to tell us how this uneven distribution will be unfair to specific groups.  At this point the argument is ironic, however.   He blames the current situation on the Sunnis who ruled Iraq before the invasion; but this will be the group to lose the most access to oil and water under partition. So there would be a kind of poetical justice to partition. But that idea runs counter to the purpose of his argument. So he does not develop it.  This example illustrates why Schwartz might find his own evidence used against him in the Etzioni paper.

Just to underline his point he calls the Sunnis "terrorists" as if all Sunnis bear equal blame for the fact that a small portion of their group object violently to the fact that Schwartz and his friends invaded their country and destroyed their orderly if repressive rule of it. But his objection presumes thatthe Sunnis would be better off under partition than they are now. Again, he fails to develop that logic, perhaps because it could only be true if partition were, in fact, to succeed!

Things get worse from there. Twice he suggests that partition would be unfair because, as he implies, "the Sunnis started it." But history, if we were smart enough to listen, might teach another lesson. How is it that Schwartz and the neocons, of all people, could not see the destructiveness of their blame-based thinking?  It was, after all, this kind of thinking that was enshrined in the treaty of Versailles. And the problems that caused postponed the final end of WWI until 1945.

Originally posted to mtspace on Tue Jun 26, 2007 at 05:00 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is an issue (0+ / 0-)

    that is going to have to be dealt with after the Bush rats have left the White House and it has been fumigated. I certainly hope that whatever happens from there the folks at The Weekly Standard are not in the drivers seat. However, that will not make what really is a complicated issue simple.

    The idea of the US imposing a partition plan on Iraq would be a truly classic example of digging a hole deeper. Iraqi society doesn't look too capable of rational planning right about now. So, who is going to develop and implement a partition plan? I have no doubt that oil would be a major bone of contention.

    •  Thanks, Richard (0+ / 0-)
      I can't say I have an opinion on partition: I can see compelling reasons to argue that Iraq cannot survive as one country in the absence of a repressive regime.  And I can see reasons why partition could be costly and might not work.

      But the real puspose of the article is to discredit Weekly Standard writers. Either they are not very smart or they have a habit of being disingenuous in their arguments.  Having spent two days reading up on Strauss and Wohlstetter, I am inclined to believe the latter.

      In a popular government when there is a suspension of the laws, the state is undone - Montesquieu - Spirit of the Laws Book III

      by mtspace on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 10:28:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody needs (0+ / 0-)

        to convince me the The Weekly Standard is a highly unreliable rag. However, there is a danger a danger in saying that if they favor or oppose a particular position, we can just automatically assume that the opposite view represents the truth.

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