PLAN Z….Here’s Joe Biden on Thursday:

I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost. They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy — literally, not figuratively.

Is Biden right? Beats me. I simply have no idea what Bush and Cheney genuinely think these days, and I certainly wouldn’t discount the possibility that they continue to live in an alternate reality in which they truly believe that “victory” is still possible in Iraq.

But even if Biden is right, I suspect there’s a bit more to it. As we’re all aware, “population transfers” are the order of business right now in Baghdad (and in the rest of the country as well, though slightly less dramatically). Eventually, regardless of any action one way or the other from the United States, the Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd populations will be almost entirely separated. This was the prerequisite for our “success” in Kosovo, and in a similar way it’s possible that once Iraq’s ethnic cleansing is mostly complete their civil war will start to die down of its own accord and the U.S. will finally be able to prop up a government of sorts. It won’t be much of a government, but it might be enough for Bush to convince himself that his steadfastness kept Iraq together after all. I suspect that both Bush and Cheney may be counting on this.

And if even that doesn’t happen? Then, as Biden said, it’s the next president’s problem. I guess that’s Plan Z.