The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Federalism and Partition

June 4, 2007

George Washington University sociologist Amitai Etzioni regularly sends me his “Communitarian Network” newsletter as I am on his email distribution list.

Most recently, Etzioni’s newsletter passed along an invitation to this forthcoming event in Washington:

Monday, June 18, 2007 @ 2:00PM-4:00PM
“Plan Z: Community Based Security for Iraq”
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 419
Dialogue moderated by Amitai Etzioni
Open to the public. Space is limited.
RSVP to Kelly Makowiecki – kmak at

Etzioni will discuss his “Plan Z”, which is “Community Based Security for Iraq.”

Senator Joseph Biden is supposed to participate, along with Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings, some other well-known think tank members (Ivan Eland, Stephen Schwartz and others) and some scholars (including Frederic Pearson of Wayne State).

Etzioni’s paper, which I link above, references recent writing by these other policy analysts and scholars. Biden, for example, published an article in The National Interest calling for a form of partition.

I only had a chance to skim through Etzioni’s argument so far, but his plan is based on a negotiated partition of Iraq. Shia and Sunni would provide security in their territories much as the Kurds already do in the north.

Of course, the Kurds have a long head start in self governance, thanks to the “no fly zone” of the 1990s, and the Sunni have not yet shown a strong interest in any kind of partition plan. Keep in mind that the Sunni used to rule in Iraq (albeit in a secular government) and that their historical territory has very little of Iraq’s oil.

Perhaps I’ll make some other comments soon once I get a chance to read the paper carefully..

I have not yet decided whether or not to attend the event — by coincidence I will already be in the general area that prior weekend. Though the event is promoted as a dialogue, the list of speakers is sufficiently long that I doubt there will be much opportunity for participation by audience members.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.