Monday, July 07, 2014

From the vaults

White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow (RIP) 20 October 2006 --

Q On the [Iraq] partition question, you said yesterday it was a non-starter; today you said the President doesn't want to think about it. You have prominent Republicans like Senator Hutchison and Senator Santorum saying that it should be looked at. Why does the administration -- 

MR. SNOW: It has been looked at. It has been looked at. 

 Q Why is it not -- why is it a non-starter? 

 MR. SNOW: It's a non-starter because you don't want to recreate the Balkans. What you have is -- within Iraq there is a sense of national identity, and it was expressed at considerable risk by 12 million Iraqis last year. They made it clear that they consider themselves part of a nation. And the idea of breaking them into pieces raises the prospect in the south that you're going to have pressure from Iran on the largely Shia south; you're going to have difficulties in the north with the Kurds, with the Turks and the Syrians, who are worried about a greater Kurdistan; and then if you have in the middle a Sunni population that has been cut out of the prosperity by oil to the north and south, you have a recipe for a tinderbox. It makes a lot more sense to continue, rather than saying to everybody, go to your separate corners and be different people, to build on the sense of Iraqi identity that was expressed by people who went forward and voted, which is an -- at times when a lot of people were saying, they aren't going to vote, the Sunnis aren't going to participate -- remember all these predictions that were made last year? They turned out not to be true. And so it makes perfect sense to try to work with the Iraqis for what they want, rather than to insist that they follow a path that people in Washington may think is more politically convenient. 

 Q Just to follow on that, pressed on the Balkans issue, Balkanizing Iraq, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said, well, the Balkans appear a lot more safe than Iraq is right now. 

 MR. SNOW: Well, again, we stand by our position. We love and respect Senator Hutchison, but on this one we just disagree.