We Count, They Don’t
By Tom Engelhardt
Counting to Three
At least Caesar was just commenting on reality when he wrote that “all Gaul is divided into three parts.” Last week, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden attempted to create reality when an overwhelming majority of the U.S. Senate voted for his non-binding resolution to divide Iraq into three parts — Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish autonomous zones. Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post reported that the 75-23 Senate vote was “a significant milestone…, carving out common ground in a debate that has grown increasingly polarized and focused on military strategy.” Murray added, “The [tripartite] structure is spelled out in Iraq’s constitution, but Biden would initiate local and regional diplomatic efforts to hasten its evolution.”
In Iraq, the plan was termed a “disaster” by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki; a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called the Senate resolution “a step toward the breakup of Iraq.” He added, according to Juan Cole’s Informed Comment website, “It is a mistake to imagine that such a plan will lead to a reduction in chaos in Iraq; rather, on the contrary, it will lead to an increase in the butchery and a deepening of the crisis of this country, and the spreading of increased chaos, even to neighboring states.” In the meantime, Sunni clerics and various political parties joined in the denunciations. Only the Kurds, eager for an independent state, evidently welcomed the plan.
Cole caught the essence of this latest stratagem perfectly: First, he pointed out, the Senate “messed up Iraq by authorizing Terrible George to blow it up, now they want to further mess it up by dividing it.”
But here’s the most curious thing in this strange exercise in counting to three — simply that it happened in the United States. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that the Iraqi Parliament had voted a non-binding resolution to grant congressional representation to Washington DC or to allow California’s electoral votes to be divided up by district. Or what if the Iranian parliament had just passed a non-binding resolution to divide the United States into semi-autonomous bio-regions?
Such acts would, of course, be considered not just outrageous and insulting, but quite mad and, on our one-way planet, they are indeed little short of unimaginable. But no one I noticed in the mainstream of political Washington or the media that covers it — whether agreeing with the proposal or not — seemed to find it even faintly odd for the U.S. Senate to count to three in support of a plan that, at best, would put an American stamp of approval on the continuing ethnic cleansing of Iraq.