Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, says cutting up Iraq along sectarian lines might be "the only realistic alternative."
"Well, that is an approach that has some strong support, Senator Warner, Vice President Biden has been saying this for years," the Virginia senator told the John Fredericks Show last week in an interview. "I have some kind of concerns about it but it may end up being the only realistic alternative."
Kaine, who has been one of the most prominent voices calling for a new authorization to fight ISIS in Iraq, expressed concern that breaking up the modern Iraqi state would empower both Sunni Muslim extremists and the neighboring Shia state of Iran.
"I'll tell you the concern I have about it is, if you say 'look, Iraq probably can't be governed together so you should split it up,' which I really worry about empowering Iran because what you had, you would have a Shia core of Iraq that would be largely dominated by Iran."
"You would have a Kurdish region, and the Kurds are great allies of ours and we work very closely with the Kurds, but then you end up with this Sunni region where they don't have a lot of assets.They don't have a lot of like, oil assets in the Sunni region and I think that they would easily be dominated by Sunni extremists."
"So, and then you end up with a bubbling three way fight between Kurds, Sunnis and Shias. If there is a way to get an Iraqi central government to try to operate the country as an Iraq for all Iraqis where Sunnis, Shias and Kurds can all be part of a state together. That should be, I think everyone would agree, that is the preferred. That would be the optimal. Maybe it's not possible but I'm not willing to give up on it yet."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Megan Apper is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Megan Apper at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.