September 1, 2006  

To Leslie Gelb

Former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Sen. Joseph Biden, for continuing to promote the idea of partitioning Iraq. The two advanced the notion in a May newspaper column, but it’s really a recycling of a similar proposal Gelb floated at the height of the Balkans wars of the 1990s. It was a bad idea for Bosnia and would be a worse solution to Iraq’s sectarian strife — not to mention a defeat for the United States.

The idea is especially mischievous in regard to Iraq’s Shiites. This majority is the bedrock of American and international hopes for a friendly and representative government in Baghdad but is under increasing pressure from Iran, through the firebrand Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and others. Abu Musab al Zarqawi would have liked nothing better than to rule in a separate Sunni state, the more impoverished and isolated the better.