Finally, a good suggestion for Iraq: cut it into pieces



After spending billions and thousands of American lives propping up Iraq, the country is as mired in violence as ever. ISIS, a thoroughly evil organization, was able to recruit Sunni volunteers in Iraq in part because of the brutality of the Shi'ite government, which slaughtered thousands of them. George W. Bush believed he could wave a magic wand and turn Iraq into a multiparty democracy, but the arab culture there is not permissive or tolerant enough for that to work; there is no civil society in Iraq, which is the precursor and basis of any real democracy.

That's why it's refreshing to see some people finally talk about a better solution, to partition Iraq into a Sunni state, a Shi'ite state, and a Kurdish state. It will hardly be perfect. Baghdad, which is mixed, will have to have special arrangements. The Shi'ites will cozy up to Iran. And Shi'ites will still kill Shi'ites, Sunnis will still kill Sunnis, and perhaps Kurds will still kill Kurds. But all at a lesser rate. The biggest violence is between these groups, and a formal separation would greatly reduce the violence.

“I generally believe it is ungovernable under the current construct,” said Ali Khedery, an American former official in Iraq who served as an aide to several ambassadors and generals.

Mr. Khedery said that a confederacy or a partition of Iraq might be the only remedy for the country’s troubles. He called it “an imperfect solution for an imperfect world.”

Mr. Khedery is now a sharp critic of American policy in Iraq, saying it has consistently ignored the realities of the country’s underlying political problems. Iraq, he said, “is a violent, dysfunctional marriage, and we keep pouring American lives and dollars into it, hoping for a miracle. We should instead seek to broker an amicable separation or divorce that results in self-determination for Iraq’s fractious communities.”

With the Islamic State in control of territory in Iraq and Syria; expanding into Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere; and having carried out attacks in Paris and Brussels, it is perhaps easy to forget that the group rose in the first place as a consequence of the failure of politics in Iraq — in that case, the sectarian policies of Mr. Abadi’s predecessor as prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, also a Shiite.“Think of all the places we are today trying to keep the peace,” he said. “All the places we’ve sent you guys and women. They’re places where, because of history, we’ve drawn artificial lines, creating artificial states made up of totally distinct ethnic, religious, cultural groups, and said: ‘Have at it. Live together.’ ”



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