25 August 2008

Obama and Biden Agree on the "Carve Up Iraq" Plan

A tired internet meme is the only way to accurately describe Biden's 2007 partition plan for Iraq

Obama's VP has been announced, and the Dems are abuzz about his experience on national security issues to bring about credibility to a weak spot that has plagued Democratic politicians in previous general elections. While Afghanistan/Pakistan has become a more pressing concern to focus our strategic policy, Iraq still remains an important subject as the next Commander-in-Chief will, hopefully, preside over a large-scale reduction of military forces in Iraq while cementing long-term diplomatic relations with the new democracy. So, let's take a look at how Biden's non-binding resolution in September 2007 played out (voted on shortly after General Petraeus & Ambassador Crocker were in DC to testify that the Surge was having a positive effect). The plan essentially divided Iraq into three semi-autonomous states based on ethnicity/sect (Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurd) with Baghdad functioning as a governing role. The plan didn't address mixed-ethnicity cities (like Kirkuk, Mosul) and it didn't take into account that oil is would primarily be in Biden's Shi'itestan. This was a non-binding Senate resolution passed in September 2007, and the controversial measure passed by a large amount.

The response to this abominable resolution from the Iraqis was with utmost contempt. One Shi'ite lawmaker said its purpose "only aimed to cause Iraq to slide into the pits of a civil war only God knows when it will end." according to Aswat al-Iraq. It has widely been stated in jest that the only thing uniting competing political parties in Iraq was their hatred for Sen. Biden's plan. Many foreigners don't understand the nuances of our hyper-partisan domestic debate regarding Iraq, and they assumed the resolution to carve up Iraq was official U.S. policy! This doesn't help the image of America trying not to be viewed as an "imperial aggressor", which is why the U.S. Embassy in Iraq promptly issued a press release decrying this abortion of a resolution. Some background on federalism being problematic for Iraq can be found at Historiae.

Despite Biden's plan being a monumental flop that pissed off the Iraqis, Obama has seemingly joined forces with VP-pick Biden on Iraq according to Politico:

Biden and Obama are now in nearly total agreement on the war, with both advocating a staged withdrawal of most troops within 16 months of inauguration day. Obama has even shed some of his initial misgivings about Biden’s three-region solution, saying he’d be open to the plan if Iraqis themselves signed off on it.

A lot can change in 11-months, so maybe Iraqis are more open to America carving up their country like Ottoman Emperor. Here's IraqPundit with a scoop from the Iraqi perspective:

Barack Obama's choice for vice president can only drag the country into ugly territory. His pick simply confirms his total disregard for the Iraqi people. All along, Biden has made it clear that he sees Iraqis as nothing more than savages bent on killing one another. His solution is to divide the country to stop the beasts from murdering the other beasts.

The next four years in Iraq will most likely be characterized by U.S. military forces drawing down to function in a supervisory/training role while there is diplomatic support for legitimate Iraqi democratic institutions. In other words, we will reduce our footprint as the Iraqis become more capable of defending and governing their own country. Joe's big, grandiose plan to completely restructure Iraq from the halls of Washington was a huge diplomatic gamble that failed miserably, and him being VP might be problematic.