The Danger of Division: a Historical and Statistical Evaluation of Partition in Iraq

Naidoff, Caitlin

"Under certain circumstances, this outcome would be plausible. According to Donald Horowitz, certain preconditions make partition involving ethnic segregation more likely to successfully decrease violent interactions between ethnic groups. He cites three primary factors that particularly impact the likelihood that partition would succeed: (1) the regions being created already experience a high degree of ethnic homogeneity; (2) there is a wholesale defection of forces formerly committed to a unified government,
now willing to support partition; and (3) there is external foreign support for the movement (Horowitz 266).
My research suggests that none of these conditions is currently present in Iraq. In this paper, I will argue that the policy of partition is problematic generally because it necessitates a conception of ethnic groups as more cohesive than they are, and specifically because of the current conditions in Iraq. While a policy of soft partition may be different from that of strict partition in certain respects, it would still facilitate the imposition of ethnic separation, the policy’s most problematic component.
Furthermore, drawing on the research of Nicholas Sambanis, I will show that, from a historical-statistical perspective, partition has had an insignificant effect on preventing the recurrence of violence in post-ethnic civil war societies. Considering the high costs of implementing a partition in Iraq—both in terms of the operation and its potential negative effects, this paper suggests that the burden of proof is on the advocates of partition to prove its effectiveness in the country."--from pages 144-145

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The Journal of Politics and Society

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Helvidius Group
Helvidius Group of Columbia University
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February 12, 2014