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from The Great Debate:

If Iraq must be divided, here’s the right way to do it

Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight ISIL, hold a sign during a graduation ceremony in Najaf

As Iraq spirals toward chaos and its Kurdish region talks independence, the issue of partition, or federalism, has resurfaced. This is a concept that then-Senator Joe Biden strongly advocated in 2006. Though it would be difficult to accomplish, federalism could still be a helpful element as Iraqis struggle through their current tragic mess.

The appeal of federalism could grow if Iraqi leaders in Baghdad cannot agree soon on a government of national unity, ideally one without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has proven so divisive. Whether a “soft partition” -- meaning the creation of a Sunni autonomous zone to complement the existing Kurdish one -- or “hard partition” --meaning the formal redrawing of regional lines -- it would seem a natural idea. Not only because of the recent violence, which has caused hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes, but also the arbitrariness with which state borders were drawn by the European powers after World War One.

We did a study of the possible soft partition of Iraq in 2007, and found that the new Sunni autonomous zone would need the following:

    A proportionate share of Iraq’s total oil revenue (perhaps 15 percent to 20 percent) because the Sunni regions generally lack oil resources; An arrangement with Baghdad allowing Sunnistan police to patrol the region’s cities on a routine basis, but with Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds continuing to support a national army for the country’s overall defense; A means for Sunnis to safely sell their property so those seeking to leave places like Baghdad (now roughly 10 percent to 15 percent Sunni) could settle in the new autonomous region with enough means to buy homes; An economic transition fund to help create job opportunities for resettled Sunnis; Clearly defined, enforced and monitored minority rights for all Iraqis choosing to stay in regions where they are not in the ethnic/sectarian majority, an inevitability since many Iraqis are in mixed marriages, and Physical protection by a combination of national and local security forces for people relocating.

These ideas should be part of the public conversation today as Iraqis debate their political futures.

from The Great Debate:

The first woman president is not about the past

Want to know the latest meme in U.S. politics? Here it is: Hillary Clinton is a candidate of the past.

It's been spreading through the political press. Now Republicans are beginning to echo it.

from The Great Debate:

China’s air defense zone: The shape of things to come?

China’s announcement of an air defense identification zone (AIDZ) that covers substantial portions of the East China Sea has unleashed a storm of concern among China’s neighbors -- as well as in the United States.

For China’s action reflects the deeper challenge now posed by its growing military capability and international activism. Vice President Joe Biden was on solid ground when he objected strenuously to this new air defense zone during his recent trip to the region.

from The Great Debate:

For Biden, Mexico’s endless allure

Vice President Joe Biden recently canceled the Panama leg of his trip to Latin America, citing the need to be in Washington, focusing on Syria. He did not, however, cancel his visit to Mexico.

Biden arrived in Mexico late Thursday night and is due to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto, and kick off the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED). There were plenty of reasons for the vice president to stay home -- including the brewing budget battle, and the shootings in Washington's Navy Yard -- in addition to Syria. So it is worth asking why he didn't.

from Front Row Washington:

McCain, Biden coming together for Sedona, Arizona forum

These days Washington is not known for bipartisanship, but every now and then a breakthrough is made.

So it is noteworthy that Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Senator John McCain, a Republican, are appearing together at a forum in Sedona, Arizona on Friday.

from Thinking Global:

Obama’s Afghan test

Munich – For America’s friends and allies, who will welcome Vice President Joe Biden to the annual Munich Security Conference this weekend, President Obama’s second inaugural address was notable for its single-minded focus on U.S. domestic issues even as global challenges proliferate. It was the clearest sign yet that Obama intends to build his historic legacy at home.

No one quibbles with Obama’s conviction that America’s global role can best be sustained through a period of “nation-building at home.” The problem is the world is unlikely to hit the pause button as America gets itself off the fiscal cliff, reforms its immigration system, modernizes its infrastructure, fixes its education system and focuses on other long-neglected home chores.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama shows Biden some love after debate mention

President Barack Obama broke from his standard campaign speech on Tuesday to show his running mate Joe Biden some love, heaping praise onto the vice president less than 24 hours after he put Biden under a harsh spotlight during the final presidential debate.

When explaining his decision to kill Osama bin Laden, Obama said in the debate to his Republican opponent Mitt Romney that "even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did."

from Tales from the Trail:

Vice presidential candidates by the numbers

The vice presidential candidates who will take the stage for a debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky this week are just as polarizing as their running mates, according to Reuters/Ipsos polls. “Very unfavorable” was the most commonly held view of both men.

According to data collected last week, Vice President Joe Biden is seen “very unfavorably” by 22 percent of respondents, in line with President Barack Obama’s “very unfavorable” score of 27 percent.

from Jack and Suzy Welch:

Mr. Biden, here’s the truth about private equity

Time was you worked in private equity and people just sort of shrugged when you mentioned it. You were in finance sort of; you invested in companies, you made deals. Whatever.

Now, you’re in private equity, and well, hello. You’re a heroic job creator – or no, wait, you take pleasure in firing people. You’re a savvy executive who knows how to grow the economy – or get outta here, you’re a vulture capitalist with leadership skills, as Vice-President Joe Biden recently put it, that are no better than a plumber’s.

from Tales from the Trail:

After gay marriage shift, high profile Romney backer switches to Obama

An openly gay, big-dollar donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign is asking for his money back after Vice President Joe Biden followed by President Barack Obama – embraced gay marriage, the New York consultant told Reuters on Monday.

“When I heard Biden say he was comfortable with men marrying men I almost fell off my chair,” said Bill White, 42, a registered independent who has supported politicians across the political spectrum, including both President Bushes and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and who maxed out during the Republican primary for Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.

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