Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart: Containing the Spillover from an Iraqi Civil War

Daniel L. Byman
Kenneth M. Pollack
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 239
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt1280fm
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  • Book Info
    Things Fall Apart
    Book Description:

    "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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-1380-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    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 Iraqi civil war could be disastrous. America has too many strategic interests at stake in the Middle East to ignore the consequences. Thus, it is imperative that the United States develop a plan for containing an all-out...

  7. Part I Patterns of Civil Wars and Policy Options

    • 2 Civil Wars and Spillover
      (pp. 17-59)

      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 and Sudan has been bloody, but it has occurred in peripheral regions and so does not affect U.S. and Western strategic interests directly, no matter how much it may tug...

    • 3 Policy Options for Containing Spillover
      (pp. 60-98)

      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 from Iraq, dampen the anger in neighboring populations caused by the conflict, prevent an outbreak of secession fever, keep Iraq’s neighbors from intervening, and help ameliorate economic problems that could breed further political or security concerns.

      This will not be easy. In fact, the...

  8. Part II Civil War Case Studies

    • 4 Afghanistan After the Soviet Withdrawal
      (pp. 101-119)

      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, and the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated from this base. But terrorism cannot be separated from the other forms of spillover. The Taliban, an organization that emerged from Pakistani refugee camps and was nurtured by the Pakistani government,...

    • 5 Democratic Republic of the Congo A War of Massive Displacement and Multiple Interventions
      (pp. 120-133)

      The civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,146perhaps 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, and as many as ten African countries have been involved in the conflict. It is a prime example of a civil war in one country causing a civil war in another, as well as of a civil war...

    • 6 Lebanon War after War (1975–90)
      (pp. 134-164)

      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 spillover. In particular, this case illustrates that once a civil war has blossomed into a regional war, it is difficult to bring it to an end because one or another of the neighbors typically has an incentive to oppose any specific...

    • 7 Somalia
      (pp. 165-176)

      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 involved in the conflict and Taliban-like actors have become more powerful. Today, the Somali crisis remains unresolved: anarchy reigns, while its neighbors meddle and radicalism grows.

      The sad experience of Somalia illustrates many of the problems that...

    • 8 Yugoslavia Getting It Right—Sort Of (1990–2001)
      (pp. 177-202)

      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 that emerged from the wreckage of the failed Yugoslav state after 1989, coupled with the pre-existing linkages among them.

      It was during this long series of civil wars in the 1990s that the international community came closest...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 203-226)
  10. About the Authors
    (pp. 227-228)
  11. Index
    (pp. 229-240)