Need new approach for same objective

Separate regions for each of the main cultural groups in Iraq is the best solution.

John Kerry and Harold Ford weren’t the first people to call for the partitioning of Iraq, but, as a Republican, I’m willing to show Democrats what true bipartisanship looks like by adding my voice to theirs in complete agreement.

It’s clear that a strong national unity government in Iraq simply isn’t going to work. As of today, the militias, especially that of Muqtada al-Sadr, continue to interfere with the process with no apparent end in sight.

Meanwhile, the American people and our troops are weary of holding the hands of a nation which, despite having 300,000 of its sons in uniform, can’t seem to get their act together and establish lasting security.

But if the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia are allowed to establish autonomous regions, then perhaps each will acquire enough of a sense of their individual sovereignty to neutralize militants like al-Sadr, who feed like leeches on all that bickering in Baghdad, and perhaps put an end to the threat of civil war once and for all.

President Bush, our troops and our allies have all labored hard to make democracy work in Iraq. I applaud them, I support them and I agree completely. Cut-and-run, which most Democrats advocate, simply isn’t an option.

The time has come, however, for a modest recalibration of our approach, and it strikes me that the idea of separate autonomous regions for each of the three main cultural groups in Iraq is the best solution.

Iraq’s clearly not ready for the kind of experiment in democracy that worked here in America. They must find another way, having none of the democratic traditions we had when our founders managed to work through their obvious differences.

The Kurds, Sunnis and Shia may not want to work together now, but it’s my belief that if partitioned and when confronted by a common enemy, perhaps Iran, they will find a way to work together for the mutual benefit of all.

It isn’t time to declare defeat; that’s never going to be an option. It is, however, time to try a different approach toward the same objective we had three years ago.

And if that means a modicum of separation for the time being, then so be it. Eventually they will discover as we did that true strength lies in unity.

Mark Overholser is a resident of Woodbury. Please send comments to [email protected].