A piece worth reading from Mickey. He wonders whether Bush's second-term legacy will amount to refusing to sieve the half-a-loaf solution when it's available to him:
One way to characterize Bush's second term in domestic policy is that he's consistently moved to Plan B too late to salvage anything from the demise of his Plan A. That was certainly the case on Social Security reform, and in all probability will be the final story on immigration. Will he replicate that misjudgment on Iraq?
He also recommends a piece from Fred Kaplan that he believes offers 'the sound position:'
Back in the spring of 2004, when Galbraith first proposed splitting Iraq into a loose federation of three ethnic enclaves, I criticized the idea. He did have a point. "Iraq" was an artifice from its outset, the product of a scheme to widen the British Empire in the wake of the First World War. When the American-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, it also imploded the artifice of a unified Iraqi nation, and there was no way to put the monster back together. It would be better, Galbraith argued, to let the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds govern themselves in autonomous regions, with a central authority doing little more than equitably distributing oil revenue...
My objections remain, but the context has changed. Amputation seems a terrible idea when one's limbs are still flexing. It's a bit more palatable when the alternative is death, and, in Iraq, the gangrene is spreading...
Before they withdraw, U.S. troops could try to help minorities relocate into areas where their ethnic brethren are in the majority—providing the means of transportation and, to the extent possible, safe passage. Iraqi troops and police may be very keen to assist, if not lead the way, in this mission—at least if Shiite forces are called on to help Shiites, Sunni forces to help Sunnis.
In the Kaus formulation, this is 'the right approach,' if you believe that building a vigorous central government in a peaceful Iraq is impossible. If you reject that notion, then it's a 'cut-your-losses' option, that might leave open the possibility of a stronger central government over time.