I've been saying it for a while now (or at least the last three weeks) but two news analysis articles, one in today's Washington Post and the other in today's New York Times , acknowledges our president's declining influence in Iraq. The Sunnis rejected the latest compromises as expected because they believe Kurd and Shi'ite negotiators are carving Iraq and its oil resources up while leaving the Sunnis with an economically deprived, land-locked weak autonomous state in central Iraq. Neoconservative New York Times' columnist David Brooks signs on to the view of those who say Iraq was always a fiction that was only held together by colonial powers and ruthless tyrants. This constitution, they say, reflects the reality we should be embracing.
I don't know if Iraq's eventual split-up was inevitable. Iraq was a fiction but so was the United States. The thirteen original states no doubt united to overthrow our British sovereigns but their differences and suspicions kept them from binding themselves together in anything more than a loose confederation for several years. The Iraqis are no doubt divided by religion, ethnicity and language and we weren't but that is largely irrelevant. The differences and between Quaker and Anglican, large and small state, or between rural and trade state may seem petty now but they were extremely important to the residents who guarded their cherished freedoms then.
Enlightened self-interest eventually brought them to unite behind one banner. Their more powerful neighbors, the British, French, and Spanish empires, still threatened their freedoms and any hope of one day becoming a viable state required difficult negotiations.
Whether the Iraqis will unite behind one banner I do not know but the president's inability and increasing unwillingness to persuade the Kurds and Shi'ites to unite behind a stronger federal system not unlike ours or the Swiss Confederation will lead to their country's undoing and we will pay the price.