The promotion of American values of freedom and pluralistic democracy in Iraq requires an American model. The colonial manner by which the US insists on approaching this issue, however, requires a colonial model.
The two exigencies put together lead to the conclusion that the peaceful formation of a pluralistic democratic society in a federal framework must begin with dividing Iraq into three anthropogeographically distinct and politically independent entities. The differences and distrust among the various factions presently competing for power are simply too overwhelming to make any other approach destined for success.
The Imamate of Basrah, composed of Basrah and the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, will be the domain of the Shi'ites who wish to pursue an Islamic republic form of government.
The Republic of Kurdistan, composed of the northern section of Iraq and inhabited predominantly by the Kurds, shall be ruled by the Kurds, whose present factionalism and relative success with self-government are suited to the creation of a multiparty system of government.
The rest of Iraq's territory will comprise the domain of the Republic of Baghdad, presumably to be ruled by the Sunni Arabs, who in the majority are of secular disposition.
The economy of the Shi'ite state shall be based on oil and gas, receipts from pilgrimage to the holy sites, and transit fees levied on the trade that passes through the state. The oil and gas revenue generated by the fields in Kurdistan will be supplemented with an economy based on agriculture and husbandry. The economy of Baghdad will be anchored by oil and gas, and provision of services and industry to the other two states.
The people who wish to relocate to an area other than where they inhabit presently should be given every opportunity to relocate. This of course conjures the images of population exchanges experienced in the Indian subcontinent prior to independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. However, the relative internal peace and tranquility in the two countries owes much to that tasteless migratory exercise.
If and when the need arises based on mutual advantage and coinciding self-interests, very much like the American colonies, any two or all three of the new Iraqi states will come together in a federal system, forming, for example, a united states of Iraq.
In the minimum the scheme proposed here will ensure peace both in the short term and long run in a country which has been victimized in the course of its post-WWI history by violence born out of irreconcilable religious and ethnic differences.
Guive Mirfendereski practices law in Massachusetts (JD, Boston College Law School, 1988). His latest book is A Diplomatic History of the Caspian Sea: Treaties, Diaries, and Other Stories (New York and London: Palgrave 2001)