In a New York Times Op-Ed article last week, Sen. Joseph Biden proposed partitioning Iraq into three autonomous regions. These regions would separate its 65 percent Shiite majority in the south from Kurds in the north. The Sunnis, who comprise less than 20 percent of Iraq’s population but dominated the country under Saddam Hussein, would be partitioned into their own region around and west of Baghdad in central Iraq.
Biden’s partition plan, co-authored with former Council on Foreign Relations President and journalist Leslie Gelb, would retain a weak national government in Baghdad. The plan promises to somehow ensure rights for women and ethno-religious minorities in each region, guarantee 20 percent of national petroleum revenues as oil well-fare for the oil-poor Sunni autonomous region, and pledge a complete U.S. pullout by 2008. No permanent U.S. military bases or American soldiers’ footprints would remain in the shifting sands of Iraq.
These partition borders and terms, wrote Biden and Gelb, would be agreed to and enforced by an unspecified future agreement signed by unidentified leaders of each group and neighboring nations, an agreement produced “under an international or United Nations umbrella.”
Democratic congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada had no immediate comment on Senator Biden’s plan, which appears to have taken both of them by surprise. The White House was quick to shoot down Biden’s partition plan as “something that no Iraqi leader has proposed and that the Iraqi people have not supported.”
Counter-terrorism expert Anthony Cordesmann of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the Biden plan would “confront the U.S. with massive new problems in an area with some 60 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.” He and other analysts told the Washington Times that “splitting [Iraq] along ethnic and sectarian lines would mean massive relocations of people and enormous upheaval in Iraq’s major cities where all three groups reside.” Any such breakup, these experts warned, “would allow extremist groups with links to al Qaeda to increase their dominance over Sunni insurgents and push Iran to exploit the power vacuum left if the U.S. pulls out.”
“Cut up Iraq, then cut out,” is how 30-year U.S. Army and reserve veteran Michael John McCrae described Senator Biden’s plan. About Biden’s plan to allocate 20 percent of Iraq’s oil revenues to the Sunni region, wrote McCrae, this “would be great if the Sunnis made up 20 percent of the workforce that extracted oil and worked in the industry, but the industry is largely carried by Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south. The Sunnis are largely known for their bureaucratic meanderings, not for their hard labor.”
But the near unanimous rejection of his plan may not bother Senator Biden who apparently presented it not to help Iraq so much as to advance his own presidential ambitions. In this, he has placed himself squarely in the tradition of left liberals whose domestic divide-and-conquer politics have given aid and comfort to America’s critics and enemies abroad by undermining the war against Islamist terrorism.
“His Achilles heel is his mouth,” wrote Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen of the pompous Senator. With Biden last week declaring that he might again run for President in 2008, reporters are sharpening their ears and pencils to snag his next “Loose Lips Sink Ambitions” gaffe.
The Senator, during his 1988 presidential run, gave a now-notorious impassioned speech about how much his father had suffered while working in coal mines. Reporters knew that Biden’s father had managed a car dealership and had never been a coal miner. They did some data mining of their own and found that the Delaware Senator had cribbed his dramatic speech almost word for word from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
Senator Biden is ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He would become its chairman if his party wins control of the upper chamber of Congress this November. This could become his springboard onto television newscasts and newspaper front pages, and from there to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and the Oval Office.
By his current grandstanding, Mr. Biden appears willing to burn down America’s foreign policy and allies (and by so doing to encourage those planting bombs to kill American soldiers, and to put at risk a democratic future for 27 million Iraqis). To smooth his, past he has progressed from the plagiarism of his last try for the White House to the moral lunacy of this time around in which he would chop Iraq into three pieces, one of which would likely become a Sunni terror state.
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