Column: Should we risk U.S. lives to save Iraqi lives?

careyTime’s June 30 cover puts it bluntly with the title, “The End of Iraq.” The Economist’s June 21 to 27 issue gave this post first World War background: “Working with France, Britain set up monarchies and protectorates, forging nations out of the tribes and sects that littered the Ottoman provinces.”

The Economist’s prediction is that, “Shia-dominated Baghdad is unlikely to fall, but a standoff beckons in which large parts of Iraq remain in rebel hands and the Kurdish north drifts towards independence.”

A term not previously familiar to this reader, ISIS, meaning Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, is heard to refer to the generally Sunni forces ranged against Iraq’s Shia-oriented regime.

We may certainly ask why Iraqis kill each other so viciously over religious issues that go back hundreds of years. But such violent antipathy is not foreign to other countries’ history and traditions. If Iraq were to divide along sectarian lines, how different would that be from the split-off of Pakistan from India or the breakaway of Ireland from British rule?

The Economist’s subtitle is, “Titanic forces are pulling Iraq apart. The best way to avoid years of bloodshed is to hold it together.” That sounds like spilling foreign blood in order to prevent Iraqis from spilling each other’s blood.

I think the editors of The Economist should rethink this position. If Iraq is to be partitioned along sectarian lines, we cannot stop it, nor should we lavish blood and treasure to try again what we have already tried at huge expense in both.