Now this is a great idea, because frankly, it would help fix a historic injustice (the kurds), show America respects the differences of Islam (giving Sunnis their own nation, capital Baghdad) and further make inroads with the majority friendly Shia (their government is hostile, but not the Iranian people) of Iran by giving the Shiittes in the South their own nation as well. This is a must read, an excellent idea that might help America out a lot. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5191422/site/newsweek/ Redrawing the Map For long-lasting Mideast peace, Iraq should be broken into three nations Brennan Linsley / AP WEB EXCLUSIVE By Col. Mike Turner Newsweek Updated: 6:06 p.m. ET June 11, 2004June 11 - Ive been trying for weeks now to be positive, to figure out how to apply the Powell doctrine in a way which can lead the United States out of this mess in Iraq. The other day, I hit upon what I think may be a long-term solution. Until now, our premise has been to reshape Iraq as a single, democratic nation within the British-imposed boundaries of 1918. But that is, frankly, an impossible task. Anyone who has studied the region and who sees the predictable jockeying going on now for a seat in the U.S.-imposed government knows such a solution will never work. The real opportunity we have, having deposed Saddam, is to allow the three nations that comprise what we call modern Iraqthe Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiitesto shape their own futures in a manner which coincides with the more natural evolution of their cultures. What if, rather than imposing our Western notion of a modern Iraq, we embraced, instead, a more regional, pragmatic notion of three separate states. Yes, I know. The pundits are shaking their heads right now thinking, This guy cant be serious. But think through the likely outcomes. The Kurds would quite happily form their own independent Kurdistan in the north. Theyve been trying to do it for decades. In a very real and measurable way, the Kurds are closer to the ideal outcome sought by the Bush administration, a functioning, capitalist democracy. They love Americans, and they are thriving in the north. The Turks wouldnt be happy, but their displeasure would be manageable. We would have to establish a U.S. security force across the narrow gap in the north leading from Turkey into northern Iraq, but that would be relatively easy. Turkey would never risk its standing in NATO by attacking U.S. troops. American soldiers could then be withdrawn from elsewhere in Iraq and used entirely in the north to protect the new Kurdish state. They would be welcomed by the Kurdish population with open arms. Plus, the Kurds would have the major oil-producing city of Kirkuk to feed their economy. The Sunnis in the center could have Baghdad and form their own government, which is what they want anyway. Gulf access would be problematic, but workable. The new state, with its former Baathists, would be a major security concern, but a separate Sunni state could easily be supported by a modest international security force sanctioned by the United Nations. And that U.N. force would have no U.S. troops. And what about the Shiites in the south? Theyre very likely to climb into bed with Iran anyway, either with or without our attempts to stop them. Its a loss to the United States, but a rump Shiite state aligned with Iran would not significantly shift the regional balance, especially with a flourishing Kurdish state in the north also on Irans border. Taking this scenario one step further, suppose the three states formed a loose federationthe Federation of Iraqi Stateswith oil as the common link. Such an arrangement might go far to restrain the more extremist Shiite elements in the south, particularly since that population is probably less than eager to march a 1,000 years backward in history as Iran has done. By redefining our political objective and limiting it, we would be able to limit our military mission to one supporting a population that would welcome us, the Kurds. We would cut our losses in the south and, who knows, maybe the Shiites would actually think more favorably of a United States that let them go. Then again, maybe not. But so what? Were not going to impose our will on the south anyway, and were going to destroy all chance for success anywhere else in the country if we try. The Shiites will simply not be constrained by the U.S. notion of a greater Iraq. Its a radical solution, I know, but it makes real sense. Its only a partial win for the Americans, but its a win just the same. And its the Powell doctrine at its best. An achievable political end state, a limited military objective in the north, an easy exit strategy and a virtual guarantee of international support. Its amazingly simple, and it could give the Bush administration a way out. Not that this White House deserves one. But our troops do. _____________________________________________ Retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner was a personal assistant to Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and served as the air-operations briefing officer in the war room in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm. From 1993-1997, Col. Turner worked as a Middle East/Africa politico-military policy planner on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, working for two years for then Lt. Gen. Wesley Clark. He is currently a consultant at TheSynerGGroup in Colorado Springs, Colo. © 2004 Newsweek, Inc.