So Joseph Biden, unlike Obama, is supposed to be a foreign policy guru. But his previous position on the most pressing issue of the day -- the war in Iraq -- is disturbing, if not downright muddleheaded.
Biden has led the ivory-tower brigade in favor of breaking up Iraq into three parts along sectarian lines -- a strategy borrowed from postwar Bosnia. Here's my question: Does this mean that Obama, by anointing Biden his second-in-command, also secretly favors the "soft" partition of Iraq?
Partition (or as Biden prefers to call it, decentralization) in Iraq, like Bosnia, would require land swaps, the separation of ethnic groups, and a political agreement that disperses powers to the regions, while keeping a unitary state.
I have spent the past few weeks in Bosnia. Yes, the peace there has proven durable. Even the arched Old Bridge at Mostar, destroyed by Croats in the early 1990s, has been replaced by nearly carbon copy of the original and now swarms with tourists.
But Iraq is not Bosnia (which had no oil revenues to share; plus it had far more troops per capita to enforce the settlement). Applying the Bosnian model to Iraq makes no sense, especially given the recent political and military progress there. Iraqis are becoming more unified, not less. The central government, however fitfully, is strengthening, not becoming more federalized. Which may explain why Biden remains so unpopular in Baghdad. Even Kurds, as Reuters reports, are opposed to the "Biden plan."
Of course, perhaps Biden has modified his plan, which was hatched back in 2006, given the changing circumstances on the ground. Nope. According to Mother Jones, he still clings to his vision to decentralize Iraq in a Dayton-like fashion.
That is unfortunate. Obama's major foreign policy trump card -- his sound judgment to oppose the war in Iraq--has just been watered down by his vice presidential nod. I never favored a decentralized Iraq, even at the worst of the sectarian bloodshed in 2006. I don't understand why someone with such supposedly impeccable foreign policy credentials as Biden does not modify his earlier position on Iraq (as he has for his vote in support of the war). We can't afford for him to be wrong twice.