FEDERALISM….Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the Sunni speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said yesterday that federalism is dead in Iraq. Then he added this:

“The United States is a federated system and it is leading the world. But this was after the Civil War,” Mashhadani said. “So must we go through a civil war in order to achieve federalism?”

That’s a fairly eccentric reading of American history, isn’t it? In fairness, though, probably no worse than most readings of Iraqi history by American politicians.

On a more serious note, though, things seem to be going to hell in Iraq, don’t they? The Kurds have all but seceded now, and as Marc Lynch notes, that hasn’t gone down well in the Arab world. And while Mashhadani may not be keen on federalism, the Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is ? and he’s got an army to back him up. Meanwhile, Iran is happily offering help with “security matters” and violence is flaring up yet again in Baghdad. And those are just the high points.

Question: how does this end up? I figure like this: the Kurds break off from the rest of Iraq ? maybe officially, maybe not ? and after a bloodbath that American troops can’t stop, the Shiite majority takes over the rest of the country and installs an Iranian-backed theocracy. If anyone can figure out how to keep this from happening, I’m all ears.