Interesting times in the ISIS War; I don't know what they'll call this conflict, but that will work for now.
The news of the day is that the Iraqi president opted to name a party rival of current PM Maliki to the post since Maliki seems to be liked by anyone who's not getting a paycheck from him. That might help rally some local support behind newbie Haider al-Abadi but might also split Shia factions in two if Maliki doesn't want to go quietly.
This weekend, President Obama was on record saying that a military solution isn't the answer-
“We can conduct air strikes, but ultimately there’s not going to be an American military solution to this problem,” the President said in a White House lawn news conference.
“There has to be an Iraqi solution . . . And that can’t happen effectively until you have a legitimate Iraqi government.”
His mantra of "no military solution" saw more than one amen from other diplomacy mavens of the left.
Diplomacy and/or domestic politics assumes that parties are willing to negotiate. ISIS doesn't seem to be interested in negotiating. Their leader has christened himself a modern Caliph and is fixin' to eventually take over the whole world. ISIS has renamed itself the Islamic State; no suffixes, they are Islam and everyone else are impostors and infidels.
It's kind of hard to negotiate with that or have them as partners in a coalition government.
The idea of "an Iraqi solution" reminds me of the old chemistry joke-"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." Coffee grounds would be a quick example of a precipitate, the stuff that floats to the bottom when you're mixing something into water.
What is in the solution has been dissolved.
Might Iraq best wind up dissolved into three pieces? The Kurdish region has been fending off ISIS with some wins and some losses; American help is en route. They might wind up surviving even if the rest of Iraq doesn't, although American aid is best sent via Turkey, and Turkey and the Kurds aren't the best of buddies.
We might be on the verse of a de-facto partition of Iraq into a Kurdish area slightly larger than the one they have on paper pre-ISIS war, a Shia-oriented central government in the south and a ISIS-controlled area in the northwest. Some realpolitik folks recommended something on those rough lines after ousting Saddam, but more naive/idealistic thinkers (including myself) thought that idea to be too pessimistic, that the various ethnic groups should be able to get along in one country with some American chaperoning.
Partition might be pessimistic, but it seems to be realistic the way things are going. ISIS has some Talaban-style cred among Iraqi Sunnis who might prefer a Salafi-on-steroids ISIS to a dysfunctional Shia central government, or at least aren't going to get in ISIS' way in the fight. A full-scale war would be needed to bring Iraq back together at this point.
The alternative is waiting ISIS out for years if not decades before they burn themselves out in back-to-Islamic-basics barbarity and granting the Kurds functional if not actual independence, since supply lines from Baghdad might not be available. The Obama team might opt for that solution, since the Iraqi army might not be up to ousting ISIS on their own and the Obama team (and the country, I think) isn't up to sending US soldiers back in again in a place the Sunni population would not welcome them, tolerating them at best if ISIS wears out their welcome.
There will be pleas for a unity government, but there seems to be little unity to be had. Old colonial boundaries often ignored the ethnic lines of an area, and Iraq is no exception. It might well be better served with three governments rather than one, giving us the option of invading ISIS territory or waiting them out, using local troops and air-strikes to keep ISIS penned in.