Things Fall Apart
Containing the Spillover from an Iraqi Civil War
Publication Year: 2007
"Iraq is rapidly descending into all-out civil war. Unfortunately, the United States probably will not be able to just walk away from the chaos. Even setting aside the humanitarian nightmare that will ensue, a full-scale civil war would likely consume more than Iraq: historically, such massive conflicts have often had highly deleterious effects on neighboring countries and other outside states. Spillover from an Iraq civil war could be disastrous." Thus begins this sobering analysis of what the near future of Iraq could look like, and what America can do to reduce the threat of wider conflict. Preventing spillover of the Iraqi conflict into neighboring states must be a top priority. In explaining how that can be accomplished, Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack draw on their own considerable expertise as well as relevant precedents. The authors scrutinize several recent civil wars, including Lebanon, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia. After synthesizing those experiences into lessons on how civil wars affect other nations, Byman and Pollack draw from them to produce recommendations for U.S. policy. Even while the Bush Administration attempts to prevent further deterioration of the situation in Iraq, it needs to be planning how to deal with a full-scale civil war if one develops.
Published by: Brookings Institution Press
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Table of Contents
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With each passing day, Iraq sinks deeper into the abyss of civil war. The history of such wars is that they are disastrous for all involved. Asking who won most civil wars is a bit like asking who “won” the San Francisco earthquake. Unfortunately, we may soon be forced to confront how best we can avoid “losing” an Iraqi civil war. Starting to answer that question is the purpose of this...
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This study represents the culmination of considerable labor over the course of the past year, and as can only be the case there were many people whose assistance proved invaluable. We benefited from outstanding support for our research. Sara Moller, at Georgetown University, and Irena Sargsyan, at the Saban Center, served as our principal research assistants during...
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Chapter 1: Introduction
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Iraq is rapidly descending into all-out civil war. Unfortunately, the United States probably will not be able to just walk away from the chaos. Even setting aside the humanitarian nightmare that will ensue, a full-scale civil war would likely consume more than Iraq: historically, such massive conflicts have often had highly deleterious effects on neighboring countries and other...
Part I: Patterns of Civil Wars and Policy Options
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Chapter 2: Civil Wars and Spillover
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By any definition Iraq is already in a state of civil war. However, it is not yet at a Lebanese or Bosnian level of all-out civil war violence and differences in degree matter. The turmoil in Haiti, for instance, can be labeled a civil war, but relatively few people have died or been driven from their homes. Moreover, not all civil wars have the same strategic impact. Strife in Nepal...
Chapter 3: Policy Options for Containing Spillover
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If Iraq spirals into an all-out civil war, the United States will have its work cut out attempting to prevent spillover from destabilizing the Middle East and threatening key governments, particularly Saudi Arabia. Washington will have to devise strategies toward Iraq and its neighbors that can deal with the problems of refugees, minimize terrorist attacks emanating...
Part II: Civil War Case Studies
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Chapter 4: Afghanistan: After the Soviet Withdrawal
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The civil war that consumed Afghanistan led to all of the types of spillover discussed in this book. Indeed, Afghanistan is one of the worst modern instances of a civil war, not only devastating a country, but also wreaking havoc upon its neighbors and other states. For U.S. purposes, perhaps the most important form of spillover was terrorism. Al-Qa‘ida was born in Afghanistan...
Chapter 5: Democratic Republic of the Congo: A War of Massive Displacement and Multiple Interventions
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The civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,146 perhaps the most destructive war of the second half of the twentieth century, was itself a case of spillover, and it in turn proved a cauldron of instability that fostered conflicts in neighboring states and led to their intervention in the war. The role of outsiders, particularly Uganda and Rwanda, was tremendous...
Chapter 6: Lebabon: War After War (1975-90)
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The Lebanese civil war that broke out in 1975 still plagues the Middle East today. The violence that broke out again between Hizballah and Israel in 2006 is just another round in this seemingly endless conflict. These recurrent cycles of bloodshed demonstrate both the impact that spillover can have on even strong neighboring states, and the difficulty of containing...
Chapter 7: Somalia
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Somalia has been plagued by civil war for decades, and for the last 15 years has been a failed state. In addition to horrific levels of suffering in Somalia, this war has at times involved several of Somalia’s neighbors and even sucked in the United States and other members of the international community. Over time, international terrorists linked to al-Qa‘ida have also become...
Chapter 8: Yugoslavia: Getting It Right--Sort Of (1990-2001)
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Many people conceive of the various internecine conflicts within the borders of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s as a single civil war. While there were certainly aspects that sustain such a conception, it is more accurate and useful to see them as a series of interlocking civil wars, in which spillover was magnified by the uncertainty hanging over all of the countries ...
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About the Authors
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Daniel L. Byman is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is also the Director of the Security Studies Program and the Center for Peace and Security Studies as well as an Associate Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Byman has served as a Professional Staff Member with...
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Page Count: 239
Publication Year: 2007