Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Baghdad is currently self partitioning. Perhaps it could be an independent free city under international administration. Mosul is actually more of a problem than Kirkuk. If there was a program to share oil revenues, who actually administers Kirkuk becomes fairly unimportant. I think they US would have to retain a major presence in Kurdistan, particularly along its borders. Other pipelines could be built. Iraq's access to the sea is pretty limited anyway. This really struck me while standing on the docks at Um Qasr in 2003.

I see Steve as closest to the mark with the point that Baghdad has self-partioned. That was our assessment on 1990: that a fragmented Iraq was the most likely outcome of any march on Baghdad. I feared as much in 2003 and said so. Now I would say to you is that it matters not what we as Western outsiders want to happen. What does matter is what the "Iraqis" want to happen. In the circumstances of today, inaction on their part is action, meaning that a neutral stance toward survival of the state is not really neutral. It is pro-fragmentation. I also see culture playing a strong role in that regard; Arab and Muslim cultures are fatalistic in accepting what happens as fate. The tendency to talk about about as it happens versus actively influence what does happen is strong. None of this in any case implies a nice, neat solution--which is where I see the proponents of partition going astray. It has not been pretty so far and it is not likely to get in prettier in the near to mid-term.