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Sunday, April 20, 2003
Breaking up is hard to do
Should Iraq continue to exist? Most treat it as a given that the United States must build a stable, multiethnic Iraq. Indeed, the first President Bush allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power in 1991 in large part because he was worried that Iraq would break up if he didn't, and he feared the consequences. But back then, the U.S. wasn't trying to remake the middle east; now, we are. So, given that, maybe we should let Iraq break up, according to Ralph Peters.
The key lesson of Yugoslavia was that no amount of diplomatic pressure, bribes in aid or peacekeeping forces can vanquish the desire of the oppressed to reclaim their independence and identity. Attempts to force such groups to continue to play together like nice children simply prolong the conflict and intensify the bloodshed.

We are far too quick to follow Europe's example and resist the popular will we should be supporting. If the United States does not stand for self-determination, who shall?


As we try to help the Iraqis rebuild their state, we should spare no reasonable effort to demonstrate to all parties concerned the advantages of remaining together. But we must stop short of bullying them -- and well short of folly.

Even as we aim for a democratic, rule-of-law Iraq, we must consider alternatives if we are to avoid being bushwhacked by the guerrilla forces of history.
There are many potential problems if this happens, but there are also some benefits, the most unambiguous being a free and independent Kurdistan, already versed in democracy, and (unlike some other Iraqis) staunchly pro-American. A stable, full-size, democratic Iraq that's an American ally would obviously be an even greater asset, but that may not be an option. The point isn't that we should break up Iraq, but that if it's going to happen, we should let it happen.

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