Chaim Kaufmann, from Lehigh University’s International Relations department, spoke at Asch on February 24th. Here is a brief summary:
Academia, human rights organizations, and governments agree: partition is no solution to communal conflict. Indeed partition is just another name for ethnic cleansing Chaim Kaufmann has a radically different view, based on years of study of dozens of cases. He argues that, once large-scale communal violence has begun, separation of populations and partition is the best way to reduce loss of life. Applied to Iraq, his argument leads to the conclusion that peace and safety depend on defensible boundaries for nearly homogenous populations of Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurds. The U.S. should not, however, encourage the Kurds to seek de jure sovereignty because Turkey would not permit it. The U.S. also should not encourage the Sunni to try to re-unify Iraq; an attempt to re-establish minority control could destabilize the whole of the Near East. The U.S. should try to remain helpful to the Shi’a majority, who control the rump of Iraq, so that they will not turn to Iran for assistance and may be dissuaded from raising Shi’a insurgencies in oil-rich Gulf countries. Perhaps most controversial of all, Kaufmann argues that the “surge” has mostly provided secure borders between ethnic enclaves in Baghdad, especially for Sunni enclaves surrounded by Shi’a. U.S. troops should offer secure transport from these enclaves before quitting Iraq. Today these ideas are shocking, tomorrow they may seem obvious. Many lives depend on the right answer.