Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Balkanizing The Middle East
Usually, when I skim The Weekly Standard, the urge I feel to respond to their most flagrant diatribes dies down into a half-hearted, "What's the use?" before I even get done reading the thing. The more outrageous the assertions, the more quickly the urge to respond evaporates.
Oddly enough, though, an article that presents some unconvincing arguments against a policy proposal that I myself have trouble with, like Stephen Schwartz' critique of the Biden plan to partition Iraq, seems to do the trick.
Schwartz' main problems with the plan are that it's based on a rosy assessment of the partition of the former Yugoslavia, and that it rewards Sunni bad behavior by creating a moral equivalency between aggressor and victim.
I don't find his reasoning very compelling. My own problem with the plan has always been that its success depends on something that has never existed: A stable power-sharing arrangement among the three Iraqi constituencies. Whether across "soft" borders or within hard ones, if the willingness to set aside violence as a means of settling disputes isn't there, the plan won't work. And imposing a ceasefire from above will not only be near-impossible. It will further exacerbate Iraqi resentment of the occupying powers.
That said, the entire region from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa seems to be reaching a critical mass of violent instability right now, due in large part to the Bush administration's policies. If spreading the chaos was part of the neocon plan to provoke a final region-wide confrontation, they overlooked one important detail: the continued instability works more to our enemies' advantage than to our own. The porous borders and perpetual battlefields are being exploited by global jihadists to recruit and train the next generation of terrorists to broaden the conflict to North Africa and Western Europe.
Now, like it or not, the writing's on the wall: The era of inclusive solutions has come to a close. If you want a taste of things to come, just take a look at the world's response to the Palestinian civil war. And, as several people have already pointed out, there's an inherent contradiction in advocating for the partitioning of Gaza from the West Bank, while rejecting such a plan for Iraq. Or Lebanon, or Waziristan, or Somalia, et cetera ad infinitum.
None of which makes the Biden plan any more likely to succeed. Just more likely to be implemented.