Combining a history of Iraq and its dominant sects with an acute awareness of the political machinations fomenting worldwide, this keen military analysis offers a practical exit strategy for U.S. armed forces in Iraq—partitioning, a unique strategy that has been successful in other chaotic political situations.
Eland (The Empire Has No Clothes) contends that the only workable solution in Iraq is a partition into a confederation of autonomous regions or into independent successor states in this slim polemic. The author asserts that Iraq is an artificial state that has been held together only by iron-fisted rulers like Saddam; wracked by ethno-sectarian, tribal, and clan fissures it faces a massive civil war without a negotiated partition. After a historical survey of partitions from Poland to Yugoslavia Eland draws 15 lessons that can be applied to Iraq. But many of Eland's suggestions will work in Iraq's case only if some problematic concession is made, e.g., if the Iraqi Kurds give up any attempt to absorb Kirkuk. A unified democratic government in Iraq might be impossible and partition the only viable solution as the author claims. Indeed, a partial de facto partition among Kurds, Sunni and Shiites already exists. But Eland undermines his credibility by focusing on conditions before 2005 and either ignoring or misrepresenting more recent progress. A case can be made for Iraq's eventual partition, but Eland's superficial brief isn't it.