Christopher Hitchens, in Slate, states the central fact of modern international politics:
There are many different plans to reconfigure forces within Iraq and to accommodate, in one way or another, its increasingly tribal and sectarian politics. (Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith's suggestion, arising from his admirable book The End of Iraq, involves a redeployment to the successful and peaceful north, with the ability to answer requests for assistance from the central government and the right to confront al-Qaida forces without notice.) But all demands for an evacuation are based on the fantasy that there is a distinction between "over there" and "over here." In a world-scale confrontation with jihadism, this distinction is idle and false. It also involves callously forgetting the people who would be the first victims but who would not by any means be the last ones.
There is no serious prospect of maintaining Iraq as a unitary state, but a federal arrangement risks enhancing Iranian influence and disaffecting Sunnis. Gareth Stansfield, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House, argued on these grounds in The Telegraph at the weekend that a five-way division would have more chance of creating a stable federal system than a tripartite arrangement. That will be important in convincing Sunni Iraqis that al-Qaeda is not their protector against perceived Shiite domination. More important than anything, to that end and for our own security, is that the coalition of Baathist former army officers and Islamist terrorism suffer decisive losses and many casualties. The notion that in withdrawing from Iraq we would enhance our security by removing a cause for provocation is the merest superstition.