Home/Daniel Larison/South Sudan and the Partition “Solution” for Foreign Conflicts

South Sudan and the Partition “Solution” for Foreign Conflicts

The New York Timeslaments South Sudan’s continuing descent. This line was a grim reminder of the U.S. role in creating the country:

What makes the South Sudan tragedy all the more astounding is that the country was initially hailed as a triumph of American foreign policy.

The creation of South Sudan as an independent country was “hailed as a triumph” mainly because very few people wanted to think through the implications of creating a new state that seemed bound to become a failed state and international ward in a short period of time. South Sudan’s independence is a testament to a deeply-ingrained belief in the West and elsewhere that a country’s serious problems can and should be addressed by partitioning the country and setting up a new state that has most of the same failings as the earlier one. This is worth bearing in mind the next time we hear the calls to divide Iraq, which is once again becoming a more popular option for a “solution” to the country’s current conflict.

More often than not, partition has been a response to an internal conflict that then turns it into an international one. The editorial is right that the U.S. does have some responsibility for the new country that it helped to create, and that obliges the U.S. to try to find a resolution to the current civil war. However, if the U.S. assumes responsibility for the fate of the new states it has worked to establish, that is one more reason why we should be extremely wary of resorting to the partition “solution” anywhere else.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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