Not Buyin' Biden's Iraq Plan
First, the plan calls for maintaining a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions. The central government would be left in charge of common interests, such as border security and the distribution of oil revenue.
That's always been an intriguing concept; hardly new, hardly foolproof, but intriguing. A new take on Jesus and Lincoln: A house divided will stand. More likely: Sectarian violence on the Sunni/Shi'ite border leading to all out war, and Turkey and Iran dividing the spoils of a stand-alone Kurdistan.
Second, it would bind the Sunnis to the deal by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue. Each group would have an incentive to maximize oil production, making oil the glue that binds the country together.
This would be a necessity, but Biden does not explain just how we would get the Shi'ites to agree to this, or how we would enforce it after we leave -- probably about 27 minutes after we leave -- when the deal is undone.
Third, the plan would create a massive jobs program while increasing reconstruction aid -- especially from the oil-rich Gulf states -- but tying it to the protection of minority rights.
This actually could happen if we left Iraq, but there are a couple problems, like who will administer it without a forceful US hand to halt corruption and deter sectarian attacks on infrastructure, and since when have oil-rich Gulf states given a Sharia-severed right hand for minority rights?
Fourth, it would convene an international conference that would produce a regional nonaggression pact and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.
That's rich. I wonder if Biden's been tracking the work of the U.N. over the last, say, 50 years. Or Middle East history over the last couple thousand years?
Fifth, it would begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, while maintaining a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.
Great. We broadcast to the Islamofascists 15 months in advance that we lost and they won. By the way, how exactly will a "small follow-on force" keep the neighbors -- Iran? Syria? Turkey? -- honest? And, Joe, have you noticed that terrorists tend not to concentrate themselves; they favor this kinda far-out new tactic called guerrilla warfare?
Biden presents this as a plan to "keep Iraq together," but what we need is a plan to win the Islamofascist War. Conceding Iraq will not further that cause; toughing it out, adjusting our rules of engagement to allow our troops to kill more insurgents, keeping the enemy focused there so we can defeat them elsewhere, and staying until it's no longer an efficient way to kill Islamofascists -- that's the goal, no matter how painful, no matter how long the commitment.
For a sobering read illuminating "no matter how painful," read Victor Davis Hanson's new column (also on RCP), Relearning Lessons in Terror War.
In an earlier draft, I included a line about staying until we have established democracy in Iraq. I removed it because I'm not sure any more than can be a democratic Islamic state. It is getting to the point where the proof we need to establish is that despite massive commitment and encouragement, Islamic nations are not ready for Democracy. That will allow us to get to "what next?"
Ralph Peters at the NYPost certainly believes this view, and while his arguments for why the Islamic religion and Muslim nations can't do a democracy are compelling, he does not address what US foreign policy should be if democratization isn't going to work.