Dem senator: Iraq should be split into three states

Dem senator: Iraq should be split into three states
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFormer coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday suggested the U.S. and the international community should reconsider the idea of splitting Iraq into three separate states to tamp down sectarian violence plaguing the country.

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“I know it was mocked at first. But the bottom line, we've tried everything else. You know, Churchill said many years ago, Joe, Churchill said famously, ‘The Americans will always do the right thing after they have tried everything else,’” he said during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Vice President Biden floated the idea of splitting Iraq into three states years ago while he was still in Senate. Republicans and Democrats ridiculed the notion.

But Manchin, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it’s time to take up the idea again as President Obama considers sending up to an additional 1,000 advisers to bolster Baghdad’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and thinking you're going to change and have a different result,” he said.

Manchin said splitting the country among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds might be the best option as they “respect each other, but they have their own autonomy. I don't know if we're trying to force something together that's not going to work because we have tried what they want to try again.”

“We have just about tried everything else,” he added. “Maybe we need to take different approach.”

Dividing the country could also help untangle policy issues like arming Kurdish security forces, known as the Peshmerga  -- something many lawmakers have long called for -- and smoothing out how oil revenue is distributed among the three ethic factions, according to Manchin. 

He said a three-state solution “will be a long time in the making, if that's the direction our country wants to go and the direction that people in that area want to do.”