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Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PARTITION....A number of people, perhaps most prominently Les Gelb, have been suggesting for years that the best way to stop the violence in Iraq is via partition. Various people have put forth various plans along these lines, but most of them boil down to a Kurdish north, a Shiite south, and a Sunni center.

I've been skeptical of this ever since I first heard about it, and yesterday Iraq's leadership decided it was pretty skeptical too:

Iraq's leaders stepped back from a simmering constitutional crisis Sunday, agreeing to wait at least 18 months before setting up autonomous regions that would shift power away from the central government.

....The compromise leaves intact southern Shiite Muslims' and northern Kurds' goal of creating a federal system that would strengthen their hold on the vast oil resources of their two regions. At the same time, Sunni Arabs, who dominate in the resource-poor central and western provinces, would have time to seek constitutional changes to limit the effects of autonomy.

The problem is that, far from bringing peace, discussion of partition does nothing but fan the flames of sectarianism. By forcing a serious discussion of tradeoffs between Sunni and Shia, it makes their differences concrete and immediate, which is why negotiations have been "put off" yet again. Unfortunately, there's no special reason to think these differences will become any less concrete and immediate 18 months from now.

I suppose it's possible that eventually something along the lines of partition might work out. But my guess is that in the end the only partition we'll get will be in the Kurdish north, which will almost certainly retain its current level of independence and might even formally secede at some point. The rest of the country, though, seems destined to become a Shiite theocracy one way or another. It will probably take an all-out civil war for it to happen, but given that Shia make up about three-quarters of the population of the non-Kurdish south, it's hard to see it turning out any other way.

Kevin Drum 12:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

wow, kevin, I think you got it right...congratulations - you've come a long way.

Posted by: pluege on September 25, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

And if the north secedes, all hell will more than likely break loose.

Posted by: keith G on September 25, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

What's the problem with partition?

It has worked so well in Palestine.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 25, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I should have said a new style of hell will break loose.

Posted by: keith G on September 25, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that, far from bringing peace, discussion of partition does nothing but fan the flames of sectarianism. By forcing a serious discussion of tradeoffs between Sunni and Shia, it makes the problems concrete and immediate, which is why negotiations have been "put off" yet again.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Once again you have misidentified the real problem in Iraq and why there isn't a political accord there.

Political accord will only come when the vast majority of the Sunnis give up their hope of a Baathist revanche. That will happen only when they know they are defeated. And they will only know that when the central government - Shia and Kurds - are strong enough to hold their own - which is exactly what we are trying to accomplish in Iraq. That is why we must maintain troops in Iraq and stay the course. Once the Sunni Islamofascists know there's no way they can win, they will give up their unrealistic demand of a Baathist revanche and will accept any offer proposed to them by America and the freedom loving Iraqi people.

Posted by: Al on September 25, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Anything else than partition presumes an United States style liberal democracy-think that will happen, Kevin? Or a strong man like Saddam.

Posted by: Ace Franze on September 25, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Al is hilarious today.

Posted by: exasperated on September 25, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

18 months from now

3 Friedmans?! Is that now the new excuse why we can't draw done troop levels in 2007?

An independent Kurdish state in the North is good for the Kurds. Who is it bad for? Turkey, Syria and Iran. They've been oppressing their kurdish minorities for far too long.

Posted by: Edo on September 25, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Partition will be in our best interest, but not for the reasons that many of you think so.

Once partitioned, the three countries will keep on fighting with each other for generations, and we will have lots of opportunites to get their oil while they are busy with trying to kill each other.

Posted by: gregor on September 25, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well, de facto partitioning is alrady happening so the question is, does Iraq prepare for it and protect the Sunnis, who will lack oil and resources, or just pretend it's not happening?

Posted by: david mizner on September 25, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I am touched by the sensitivity and knowledge that Americans bring to a discussion of partitioning someone else's country. Maybe we truly are almost as good as the Europeans.

Posted by: clem on September 25, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"An independent Kurdish state in the North is good for the Kurds. Who is it bad for? Turkey, Syria and Iran. They've been oppressing their kurdish minorities for far too long."

No it isn't bad for Turkey or Syria. Oppressing thier Kurdish minorities is bad for them. It might be bad for the current leadership of Turkey or Syria in the sense that it could hurt them politically (presumably the oppression benefits them politically), but it isn't bad for either country.

I do wonder if the non-kurdish parts of Iraq can be partitioned without a full ethnic cleansing civil war (the war that is going on at moderate intensity right now). My impression is that those rest of the country, especially bagdad, is a lot more mixed and can't be split up so easily.

Posted by: jefff on September 25, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

I am honestly not altogether clear on why partition is such a bad idea. It's clear why the Sunnis don't want it (it would leave them resource poor) and why the US doesn't want it (another strong Shiite state to contend with, just what we need). It does seem like a better idea for everybody than all-out civil war, though -- wouldn't it be better to have the strong Shiite state as a result of a compromise rather than following the bloodbath that seems inevitable anyway?

Posted by: Lucia on September 25, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

But I am far from an expert on Iraqi demographics. :)

Posted by: jefff on September 25, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

The 'partitioning' (i like the irony of 'balkanization) of Iraq has been the inevitable, predictable, and (for the invaders) the preferred outcome of the ICORP of Iraq since the very first day...

jeezis, kevin, get a fuukin clue...

*ICORP= Invasion, Conquest, Ocupation, Rape & Pillage

Posted by: konopelli/wgg on September 25, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, there's no special reason to think these differences will become any less concrete and immediate 18 months from now.

Sunni tribal leaders have lately unified against al Qaeda, and are pledging men and other support to drive al Qaeda (an all the foreign jihadists) out. The next 18 months are likely to see more integration of the Sunni areas into the many infrastructure projects now underway. right now a higher proportion of Iraqi students are enrolled in primary school or high school than ever before in Iraqi history.

there is no reason to believe that the next 18 months will be entirely depressing.

Posted by: republicrat on September 25, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem is that, far from bringing peace, discussion of partition does nothing but fan the flames of sectarianism. By forcing a serious discussion of tradeoffs between Sunni and Shia, it makes their differences concrete and immediate, which is why negotiations have been "put off" yet again."

That's true, but is it worth it to draw the bloodletting and possibly inevitable partition out over the next decade and a half?

The awful (and most unacknowledged) truth about the civil war in the former Yugoslavia is that America and the Europeans delayed intervention until the factions had done the ugly business of partitioning the country themselves.

To forestall that level of ethnic cleansing in Iraq would require social engineering on a grand scale - the kind we haven't done for decades. It would be acknowledging that Arab democracy is possible, but only in ethnically and religiously-centric nation-states, and helping people to relocate to ethnic and religious-majority zones. It may become a humanitarian imperative.

Just because the Iraqi elites are postponing a serious look at devolution (which I believe will become a euphemism for partition over time) doesn't make that partition any less inevitable.

Posted by: Linus on September 25, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Jefff,

No it isn't bad for Turkey or Syria. Oppressing thier Kurdish minorities is bad for them. It might be bad for the current leadership of Turkey or Syria in the sense that it could hurt them politically (presumably the oppression benefits them politically), but it isn't bad for either country.

Yes, yes, of course its bad for their political leadership, and not bad for the population within those geographic boundries. Apologies for my shorthand.

Posted by: Edo on September 25, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

right now a higher proportion of Iraqi students are enrolled in primary school or high school than ever before in Iraqi history.

And all those schools are freshly painted!

Posted by: Stefan on September 25, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Partition has already occurred. Kurdistan is already a country (they don't recognize the Iraqi flag). In the rest of the country, all governance is local with enforcement by militias. The only part of the country still up for grabs is Baghdad, hence the violence of the last three months. Eventually, Baghdad will be "cleansed" of Sunnis and there will be a Shiite state in the southern half of what was once Iraq.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on September 25, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

"de facto partitioning is alrady happening"

Peter Galbraith makes the de facto argument persuasively.

Bonus: US troops may then head for the exits.

Posted by: Lucy on September 25, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Unfortunately, there's no special reason to think these differences will become any less concrete and immediate 18 months from now."

There's no special reason to think that anyone in the USA knows what outcome is best for the well-being of the human beings who live in the region that we call "Iraq".

Nor is there any special reason that anyone in the USA has the right to impose any particular outcome on the human beings who live in the region that we call "Iraq".

Except, of course, that 140,000 US troops are currently occupying the region that we call "Iraq" as result of George W. Bush's deliberate lies about nonexistent "threats" from nonexistent Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 25, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"right now a higher proportion of Iraqi students are enrolled in primary school or high school than ever before in Iraqi history."

as students are murdered on the street, the percentage in school goes up without any actual increase in enrollment.
.

Posted by: justfred on September 25, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

right now a higher proportion of Iraqi students are enrolled in primary school or high school than ever before in Iraqi history.

Unfortunately many of their teachers are being abducted, tortured, executed, and left at a roadside sans head.

Which brings to mind the exhortation in Rudyard Kipling's poem "If":

If you can keep your head when all about you are loosing theirs....

I wonder if there is a lesson plan for that?

Posted by: Keith G on September 25, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

All humans separate into tribes and kill each other for land, resources, slaves, economic advantage, power and prestige.

Partition is a way of furthering these base nationalistic instincts.

Maniputators deny the common origins of all people (known as evolution) to further their own anti-moral gains. Manipulatees, acting on their emotional ties to the manipulators, accept these "values" and go along for the ride.

Of course, the Wisdom of Solomon can be applied to the children of mixed marriage between warring factions. They can be split down the middle to serve the nation state.

Partition results in piles of dead and in millions of displaced, homeless refugees.

Think India-Pakistan, the Balkans, Darfur, Palestine-Israel and many more.

Very shameful and destructive behavior.

Posted by: deejaays on September 25, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq's leadership, drawn from all factions, is still working on a peaceful outcome. This is at least still some forward progress.

Of course, this isn't as efficient or "stable" as a murderous dictator imposing his will on large factions of the country, but you can't have everything.

Posted by: larson on September 25, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Partition is a terrible idea.

In the north, an independent Kurdish region will provoke a Turkish military response, very likely with Iranian cooperation. Turkey will NOT allow an independent Kurdish state, since such a state will fan sectarian strife in the southeast of that country (one would think the Turks have done plenty with their oppression of the Kurds, but of course they don't see it that way).

In the south, an Arab Shia state would be under constant pressure from Iran. Iran has one oil-producing, Arab-majority province (Kuzestan) and they wouldn't mind having another.

In the middle, the Sunnis would either be poor, or riven with strife, or trying to grab something from either the Kurds or Shia, or all of that. A Sunni rump state could also be snapped up by Syria.

What's being advocated by some Iraqis isn't partition but a federal approach with each region becoming akin to a Swiss canton. That might work, but the border regions and what to do about Baghdad would make this very difficult.

Posted by: Steve White on September 25, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm struggling with the logic in this post.

1.) Partition is bad, because it formalizes the distinction between groups. These distinctions are killing tens of thousands of Iraqis now, but somehow formalizing them makes it worse.

2.) Partition is something to be skeptical of, but it's inevitable.

3.) Partition is inevitable only for Kurdistan. We shouldn't let the Sunnis break off on their own. Rather, the better solution is to allow them to be subjugated and murdered by revenge-seeking Shiites. You know, so they don't get screwed over in the partition deal.

Breaking Iraq into a (very) loose federation is the best of a bunch of bad options, the worst of which is to continue what we're doing now. Far from introducing a brotherhood of man and making the world safe for democracy, we're now at the point where our best play is to simply try to introduce some level of stability.

The U.S. should use whatever leverage it has left to pressure the Shiites to give the Sunnis a fair share of the country's resources. Then get the hell out of the way and let them work it out.

Posted by: zeeeej on September 25, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Turkey struggling with Kurdish *Terrorists*?

Isn't Turkey a NATO ally?

Isn't Turkey opposed to an indpendent Kurdistan because of their willinginess to harbor said terrorists?

Doesn't that make Kurdistan the enemy in our Global War On Terror?

Posted by: Boronx on September 25, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Two questions on partitioning Iraq ("standard" 3 parts):

Do the Kurds get Kirkuk?

Do the Sunnis get Baghdad?

Posted by: Brian on September 25, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

right now a higher proportion of Iraqi students are enrolled in primary school or high school than ever before in Iraqi history.

Yep. That's why we have this story:

Most schools have fewer pupils this year, and many of the pupils are new, a result of families moving neighborhoods or fleeing the capital altogether.

Teachers, too, have fled, which means classes are larger, with pupils from more than one year packed into a single room, often in shifts.

Few can offer any real protection from attackers. At Ali's primary school, one of two security guards was absent on leave. The other had been kidnapped.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/09/20/iraq.school.reut/

And then there's this:

Earlier this year, the country's Ministry of Education reported that 64 children had been killed and 57 injured in 417 attacks on schools over a four-month period. The ministry also reported that more than 47 children had been kidnapped on their way to or from school during the same period.

In those same four months, the report noted that 311 teachers and government employees had been killed and an additional 158 wounded in attacks.
It comes as little surprise that UNICEF recently reported that school attendance is steadily dropping. Many parents feel it's just not safe enough to send their kids to school.

http://www.startribune.com/562/story/695529.html

there is no reason to believe that the next 18 months will be entirely depressing.

The only way I won't be completely depressed about Iraq is if you're there in Baghdad reporting from the scene. That would give me some measure of comfort.

As a bonus, Stefan may be persuaded to purchase your tickets.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 25, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

All of the reasons why partition is a bad idea are correct, but irrelevant. It's a bad idea that will happen, anyway. The real goal should be to help Iraqis manage the partition process to minimize violence.

The model for this should be the exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece early in the 20th century. It wasn't pretty, but in the end it worked out well. You have two separate nation-states living side-by-side -- hating each other but at peace, which is better than two nations sharing the same country who hate each other and go on slaughtering each other day after day.

Posted by: rosswords on September 25, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Well, de facto partitioning is alrady happening so the question is, does Iraq prepare for it and protect the Sunnis, who will lack oil and resources, or just pretend it's not happening?


You prepare for a partition just as you prepare for someone cutting off your dick.

Posted by: gregor on September 25, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Answers to Brian's questions:

1) Yes, the Kurds get Kirkuk.

2) Baghdad either becomes a U.N. protectorate or it gets partitioned, just like the rest of the country, with an exchange of populations.

Posted by: rosswords on September 25, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

As a bonus, Stefan may be persuaded to purchase your tickets.

The offer is, indeed, still open.

Posted by: Stefan on September 25, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

...and it doesn't really matter whether it's formal partition or a "loose confederation." Let the Iraqis figure out the details. But until you separate these warring populations, Iraq will never achieve any kind of stability. And, no, separation is not "ethnic cleansing" if it's done fairly, equitably and peacefully.

Posted by: rosswords on September 25, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Reagrding the post ostensibly by Al near the top of the thread. Guessing whether a given post is by the real Al or one of the fake Als can be a fun game. In this case, I say fake Al; real Al can take some pretty absurd positions, but there is just something a little TOO over the top about this one.

Posted by: Larry on September 25, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK


Do the Kurds get Kirkuk?

Yes.

Posted by: Edo on September 25, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

There's a Sunni minority in Iran we don't hear much about.

Posted by: cld on September 25, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

boronx,

Isn't Turkey struggling with Kurdish *Terrorists*?

No. Not under any reasonable definition of "terrorists". If, however, you state that any given action is okay if done by a formal government but is terrorism if done by a non-formal entity (i.e. the kurdish minorities in South East Turkey), then I suppose so. However, this seems to be an artificial distinction.

Posted by: Edo on September 25, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

cld: that Sunni minority in Iran is a tough group to pin down. The ethnic lines in Iran break down as follows: Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, and all others approximately 1%. The religions breakdown about 80% Shia, 19 % Sunni and 1% other (Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Ba'hai, etc.)

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm too lazy to learn HTML. Here is the website address where I got that info. It is maintained by that leftie pinko organization, the CIA.

https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ir.html#People

oops. I misread. Shia comprise 89% of Iran, Sunni's are about 9% and all others are about 2%.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 25, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

gregor: You prepare for a partition just as you prepare for someone cutting off your dick.

Yep. You grit your teeth and hope it doesn't hurt too much. But you know it will. Then, as you're sitting down to pee two years later, you say to yourself, "Self, this sucks! But at least there's not a pit bull chewing on my crotch anymore."

Posted by: zeeeej on September 25, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like 18th Century British lads have been transported into the present.

Posted by: gregor on September 25, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The real story here is the encroachment by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish territory. The threat of a land grab by either, especially Turkey was very real given the continuing activity of the PKK.

In response, the Kurdish parliament offered to guarantee a share of the oil under any plan, mainly because with Turkey and Iran on either side pressuring them, the new Iraqi Army looked better than ever.

The problem with 18 months is that means 18 months of US troops, and no thanks. If partition is the price to get US troops out, than pay it now rather than later. There has been to much of this "wait a little longer" stuff and all parties, especially the yanks, need to know the pressure is on to get out with ASAP. Take whatever stability in in view in the next month or so and began serious troop draw down .


Posted by: Matt on September 25, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully,

Does that 9% Sunni population feel disaffected or disadvantaged?

The Wikipedia articles on Baluchistan seem to be in a high state of flux, but this map is striking,


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pakistan_ethnic_80.jpg


The Baluchi region in Iran looks larger than 2%.

(And it looks like Pakistan and Afghanistan could benefit from redistricting.)

As I understand it Baluchistan was incorporated into Pakistan reluctantly and Pakistan is held together by an unstated understanding between the other groups to repress Baluchis, so I was wondering, what is Iran's view of this? Is it like the Kurdish problem in Turkey? Is Iran complicit in undermining Baluchistan?

Posted by: cld on September 25, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

why not let saudi take anbar so the latter isn't broke? then you got the islamic republic of shiite iraq and kurdistan on turkey's border. no problem.

Posted by: benjoya on September 25, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Brian's questions:

Do the Kurds get Kirkuk? yes

Do the Sunnis get Baghdad? No, it is split down the Tigris River.

Who protects the Kurds from a Turkish invasion? The Kurds have to answer that. Maybe US air power?

How to the Sunni survive? Welfare and agriculture and migration and foreign aid.

What happens to the constitution? It remains as a federal document, Iraq become more like the European Union or preconstitutional America.

The Sunnis picked a bad fight, their enemy was Bush incompetence and they are right to attack Yank troops which have protected the Green zone. They never should have picked a fight with the Shia, and they are losing that fight.

Posted by: Matt on September 25, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Just remember: There is a damn good reason that the Brits gave the power to the Sunnis when they created Iraq in the first place. The Sunnis- the poor guys that we are helping the Shiites slaughter right now- will be the ones who eventually make a relatively peaceful state there. Just like before under Saddam. So long as the Shiites hold power, Iran will be the overarcing power in the region.

Posted by: Castor Troy on September 25, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

A partition...instead, let us seek stability in the region through poverty reduction, a far more noble cause...especially considering the number of Iraqi's living below the poverty line has increased by one fifth since the US-led invasion. The Un Millenium Goals and www.borgenproject.org have the right idea.

Posted by: Amy1022 on September 25, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

During a memorial service this month for a soldier killed in Lebanon, Eitam, a former general who commanded a brigade in Gaza, told the gathering that "we will have to expel a large majority of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria," using Israeli terminology for the West Bank.

Partition Palestine along the 1947 UN borders.

Posted by: Hostile on September 25, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

And the Czechs and Slovaks just woke up one morning and decided to get a no-fault divorce. I was going to make that correction too. My grandparents emigrated from Prague when my father was four. Grandma sent all of her sons off to fight on Dec. 8, 1941. One died in France and was buried there, and the other two retired from service.

Of course none of this counts because her English was never very good and her paperwork wasn't in order when she they arrived.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 25, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

If we could somehow get the Kurds to accept the Sunni's (who gassed them, blech) it might actually work out with the Sunni's gladly joining the kurds to avoid a Shiite theocracy.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 25, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Two oil fields divided by three ethnic groups...

Posted by: myron on September 25, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Gelb is just yellow.

Posted by: phleabo on September 25, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I think Peter Galbraith makes a convincing "de facto" argument, but I'm still highly skeptical, especially for the Arab parts of Iraq.

Everybody needs to keep in mind that this isn't a new idea; the idea of partitioning countries to avoid political/communal/sectarian conflicts is a very old one and there are a host of examples from this century.

Unfortunately, the outcome was usually bad. India/Pakistan? Israel/Palestine? Cyprus? Northern Ireland? In virtually all of those cases, the problems are STILL intractible. Partitions tend to be highly traumatic events that destroy old social and economic networks, result in massive bloodshed and ethnic cleansing, and usually result in two or more hostile states that are weak, oppressive, and constantly in tension with their neighbors.

People cite Yugoslavia as an example of why we should partition Iraq. But surely the lesson of Yugoslavia is that its division was unnecessary. All the Yugoslav successor states are asking for EU admission; presumably one day they'll have open borders and the same currency again, so what was the point of the breakup? Remember that the violence flared AFTER Croatia and Slovenia declared independence. The results of that have been thousands dead, economic devastation, and a rise in radical politics in the successor states.

Where I'll concede is that I'm not sure there's much that's possible now to avoid a partition of Iraq. Particularly with the Kurds, they're likely to go their own way. But I think the Arab part can hold, and we shouldn't encourage a division of that part because it will merely leave behind a weak, poor, landlocked Sunni state.

Posted by: Andrew on September 26, 2006 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: amr铃声 on September 26, 2006 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

"But surely the lesson of Yugoslavia is that its division was unnecessary. All the Yugoslav successor states are asking for EU admission; presumably one day they'll have open borders and the same currency again, so what was the point of the breakup?"

Being one member of an international federation, and having your erstwhile fellow Yugoslavs as members of the same body (along with dozens of other nations), is different than being part of the same nation with them and only them.

The overall trend in Europe may be a super-state at the federal level and sub-states/ethnic enclaves at the micro-level (Brittany, Catalonia), but Yugoslavia was never going to merge seamlessly into that future trend.

(For one thing, the trend was in its infancy back in 1989, when The Troubles started.)

*

David Mizner, assuming you're the same one, I just read - and thoroughly enjoyed - your novel tonight.

But your comment confuses me:

"does Iraq prepare for it and protect the Sunnis, who will lack oil and resources"

How will "Iraq" protect "the Sunnis?" There is no "Iraq" (rounding-error minorities aside) apart from the very groups trying to steal the poor, disenfranchised Sunnis' stuff.

"The Sunnis" have been the ones most violently opposed to the invasion, occupation, elections (first round, anyway), and overall transition. That doesn't mean millions of Sunnis *should* pay for the intransigence of the few, but it probably means that they *will.*

Posted by: Knemon on September 28, 2006 at 5:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Partition Palestine along the 1947 UN borders."

To whom is this imperative addressed? The Magical Peace-Keepers from Neutralityland?

Posted by: Knemon on September 28, 2006 at 5:21 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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