George Graham

You Were Right, Joe!

You told them so, Joe. You told them that Iraq should be “decentralized” into three loosely linked states. You knew that Iraq wouldn’t hold together, that trying to forge a unified democracy there was doomed to failure. You could see that the only way to deal with the infighting in Iraq was to let the Kurds rule their section in the north, the Sunnis take the western area around Anbar province and the Shiites have the south.

Here’s the record, from CNN’s “Fact Check”:

Sen. Biden co-authored an opinion piece in The New York Times on May 1, 2006, that proposed a five-point plan “decentralizing” Iraq, greatly beset at the time by civil warfare between Shiites and Sunni Arabs.

The column, also authored by Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb, likened Iraq’s sectarian woes to those in Bosnia – “torn apart by ethnic cleansing and facing its demise as a single country” after the breakup of Yugoslavia last decade.

Did they listen? No they did not.

Indeed, CNN noted that:

Sen. John McCain, speaking at the October 15 (2008) presidential debate in Hempstead, New York, said Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, “had this cockamamie idea about dividing Iraq into three countries.”

How does Senator McCain manage to be wrong about everything all the time? It must be a gift.

Now, Iraq is falling apart on its own, collapsing into three separate, warring fiefdoms. And there’s a real danger of the rampaging Sunni extremists overpowering the Kurds and the Shiites. You can bet the United States won’t stand by and let that happen. Those Sunni rebels have close ties to al Qaida, which was responsible for Nine Eleven and remains America’s most hated adversary.

So, there was Senator McCain on TV last night, up on his hind legs again, braying about launching a full-scale offensive in Iraq. He wants the old Bush team reassembled to embark on another catastrophic Mideast adventure.

Meanwhile, President Obama is making appropriate sounds about “helping Iraq” and “nothing being off the table,” that is nothing except US boots on the ground. Mercifully, he isn’t contemplating a repeat of that insanity.

So what now?

Bomb, bomb, bomb Iraq (to paraphrase another McCain classic)? Who in Iraq? The Sunni horde swarming through the country like Genghis Khan? If so, as NBC’s Richard Engel pointed out on Rachel Maddow’s show last night, the US would be fighting the Sunnis in Iraq while supporting the Sunnis in neighboring Turkey. And not only that, but the US would be supporting Iran’s best buddy,  Nouri alMaliki, who was catapulted into the position of Iraqi prime minister by America’s imposition of a democratic system of government. Isn’t Iran supposed to be The Enemy?

Then there’s the Syria situation to consider. The Sunnis invading Iraq are an overflow from the rebel movement in Syria. By attacking them, wouldn’t the US be siding with that horrible dictator Bashar Havez al-Assad? And isn’t Assad a Russian ally?

Of course oil-rich Saudi Arabia is Sunni, too. And America wouldn’t want to lose their friendship.

It’s hard to imagine what the Obama administration will come up with. Whatever their solution is, it isn’t going to be pretty. And it’s sure to cost the US taxpayers a bundle – again.

If only they had listened to you back in 2006, Joe. But they never seem to take you seriously. And that’s just too bad.

Click for the Iraqi collapse.

Click for CNN’s fact check.

Click for Engel’s analysis.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for