I am glad that all previous demands for withdrawal or disengagement from Iraq were unheeded, because otherwise we would not be able to celebrate the arrest and trial of Saddam Hussein; the removal from the planet of his two sadistic kids and putative successors; the certified disarmament of a former WMD- and gangster-sponsoring rogue state; the recuperation of the marshes and their ecology and society; the introduction of a convertible currency; the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan (currently advertising for investors and tourists on American television); the killing of al-Qaida's most dangerous and wicked leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and many of his associates; the opening of dozens of newspapers and radio and TV stations; the holding of elections for an assembly and to approve a constitution; and the introduction of the idea of federal democracy as the only solution for Iraq short of outright partition and/or civil war. If this cause is now to be considered defeated, by the sheer staggering persistence in murder and sabotage of the clerico-fascist forces and the sectarian militias, then it will always count as a noble one.
Meanwhile, Juan Cole, who Hitchens has ripped into before, writes what seems to be an unobjectional piece in Salon, explaining why the partitioning of Iraq is not really an option:
But aside from the selfish interests of all the political actors inside and outside Iraq, as a practical policy, partitioning Iraq is too risky. It would probably not reduce ethnic infighting. It might produce more. The mini-states that emerge from a partition will have plenty of reason to fight wars with one another, as India did with Pakistan in the 1940s and has done virtually ever since. Worse, it is likely that if the Sunni Arab mini-state commits an atrocity against the Shiites, it might well bring in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They in turn would be targeted by Saudi and Jordanian jihadi volunteers.
A break-up of Iraq might not stop at Iraq’s borders. The Sunni Arabs could be picked up by Syria, thus greatly increasing Syria’s fighting power. Or they could become a revolutionary force in Jordan. A wholesale renegotiation of national borders may ensue, according to some thinkers. Such profound changes in such a volatile part of the world cannot be depended on to occur without bloodshed.