FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Juliet's Lament: An Argument for Partition

Below is paper I wrote examining the methods by which a multi-ethnic democratic state can reconcile different identities during after ethnic conflict arises.  My complete collection of grad school notes and paper can be found here.

Juliet's Lament: An Argument for Partition

          Were the terms state and nation always synonymous there might be far fewer 
incidences of intrastate ethnic conflict. International conflict, of course, would still flourish but 
it would not stem from ethnic heterogeneity within a state. This observation is offered to 
demonstrate the myriad challenges of state governance. With few exceptions, most states 
contain multiple ethnic identities that compete for power and control. A state’s primary duty 
remains the maintenance of its sovereignty (its stateness) through the governance of its territory. 
When ethnic conflict arises, this governance comes down to choices—of reconciling lines on a 
map to accommodate realities on the ground, or reconciling the identities of the population on 
the ground to the arbitrary lines on a map. Poor choices in this process have caused millions of 
deaths—sometimes intentionally but often as an after effect of well-intentioned state responses. 
In examining the reconciling of a state’s options, one must ask how a state can best respond to 
problematic ethnic populations? Is there an ideal best response? Does it address the origins of 
the conflict? In this essay I argue that democratic multi-ethnic states must balance the 
requirement for their own self-preservation with the needs and rights of its people. Ideally, the 
most comprehensive and widely employable balance for a state can be found in partition. This 
method addresses the primordialist origin of ethnic conflict. Ethnic bonds are not something that 
can be easily broken through assimilation or integration. Respecting the innate nature of ethnic 
affiliation produces an approach that seeks to preserve ethnic identity. This approach must be a 
holistic one—while it must originate within the sovereign state—it then requires cooperation 
(not intervention) by the international community in ensuring that refugee relocation does not 
turn into ethnic cleansing, nor is it perceived as indiscriminate expulsion. I begin the essay by 
distinguishing between nationalism, nations, and states, as well as between partition and 
secession. Then I describe that which is never a viable option—genocide—highlighting 
preconditions that a state must avoid to guard against it. Next, I provide a brief analysis of 
common criticisms of partition. Finally, I address the advantage of partition as well as the 
supplementary responses necessary once a state makes the decision to make a fresh cut.

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