Michael O'Hanlon claims "soft partition" already occurring in Iraq
Although senior Iraqi officials have strongly opposed a partition and the Bush administration has no interest in it, O'Hanlon claims that it's already occurring. "It is what's happening on the ground. Iraq is being torn apart; Iraq is being divided along sectarian lines whether most Iraqis want it or not. Al-Qaida strategy in that regard has been working," he said. "Iraq is being ethnically segregated. Ethnic cleansing is on its way, it's happening, and at least a couple million people have been displaced. It's becoming Bosnia in some ways.
"We would rather manage the process than have the death squads and the militias do the separation for us," O'Hanlon said. "The United States cannot impose partition for Iraq. Only Iraqis can decide this," Joseph said. "Iraqis have already agreed to an extent. The constitution already contains the fundamental vision for a soft partition." The plan would call for American troops to stay in Iraq for 12 to 18 months in order to help protect Iraqis relocating to their own sect's region. Although such a move would be voluntary, Joseph said the pressure of being a minority in a hostile neighborhood would eventually sway those who decide not to move.
Regional boundaries would have to be drawn, with outside help, to mediate any arguments over territory. Those who would have to be uprooted, estimated at 5 million by O'Hanlon and Joseph, would then have to be given assistance in building a new life. That would be done through a house-swapping scheme and a job-creation program, which should create 3 million jobs paying roughly $1,000 a year.
Michael O'Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Congo Kinshasa. Read more.