Barack Obama may be doing the one thing that might have seemed impossible: he’s picking a running mate whose ideas about Iraq are even worse than, and stupider than, John McCain’s.
Obama, whose mushy Iraq plan excites no one, is marrying his own’s flawed ideas — which mostly revolve around beefing up US forces in Afghanistan and unilaterally attacking Pakistan — with Biden’s discredited notion of partitioning Iraq into three squabbling mini-states.
Indeed, last year it was the passage by the US Senate of a resolution in favor of Biden’s dangerously misguided ideas that sparked an outburst of Iraqi nationalism. More than the Blackwater killings, more than US efforts to forcibly privatize Iraq’s oil, it was the Biden idea of splitting Iraq into three pieces that galvanized Iraqi Arab nationalists. (It does, of course, excite the Kurds no end.)
Perversely, by selecting Biden, Obama might in fact hasten the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, if only because Iraqis won’t be able to stomach Vice President Biden pompously lecturing them on why Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds can’t live together.
As the always astute Reidar Visser points out, Biden has quietly suppressed talk of his partition plan even on his own web site, in cleaning up his act in preparation for being named Obama’s running mate. Noting that Obama himself seems unable to think of Iraq in other than the Sunni-vs.-Shiite paradigm, Visser points out:
Arguably, the addition of Joe Biden to the Obama ticket might aggravate these tendencies, because in the past Biden has been a leading American voice in promoting an interpretation of Iraq as a country of three mutually hostile and internally stable population blocks. His various “plans for Iraq”, while frequently misunderstood, in different ways reinforce the view that the main problem in Iraq has to do with a centralised state structure and coexistence issues. Like many others in American politics, Biden has failed to acknowledge the emerging non-sectarian trends in Iraq, seeking instead to push ideas about “Sunni federalism” during his visit to the Anbar governorate.
Need we point out that, in addition, Biden joined McCain in voting for the war resolution in 2002 that propelled the United States into Iraq? How, exactly, does Obama enhance his anti-war stand by selecting a pro-war hawk as his running mate? Among other things, Obama makes it impossible for himself to criticize McCain’s pre-2003 Iraq bloodlust by selecting a bloodthirsty Democrat as his running mate.