The breakup of Iraq is something that the United States spent over $2 trillion over the last decade trying to avoid. If it happens, it will prove a devastating legacy for two American presidents, Bush and Barack Obama. It is a fate that has been feared—and foretold – not just for the last ten years but for much of the last hundred, ever since the modern nation-states of the Middle East – mainly Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – were created out of whole cloth by British and French diplomats seeking to reclaim their spheres of influence after World War I. Since then Arab nationalists, left-wing anti-imperialists and Islamic fundamentalists have variously dreamed of erasing the legacy of the so-called Sykes-Picot agreement, under which Mark Sykes, a British MP, and Francois-Georges Picot, a French diplomat, crudely divvied up colonialist spoils from the decaying Ottoman Empire in 1916. Essentially Sykes and Picot drew “a diagonal line in the sand that ran from the Mediterranean Sea coast to the mountains of the Persian frontier,” as British historian James Barr put it. Iraq itself was patched together from regions that had little to do with each other ethnically and culturally, but which various rulers culminating in Saddam Hussein tried to weld into some form of national unity with bloody force.