O’Hanlon’s ‘Soft Partition’ Plan Envisions Long-Term Occupation Of Iraq

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon predicted, “The United States and coalition partners would win any future war to overthrow Saddam Hussein in a rapid and decisive fashion. This will not be another Vietnam or another Korea.”

Since that time, O’Hanlon has remained a steady supporter of the occupation of Iraq. In January 2007, in a piece entitled “A Skeptic’s Case For the Surge,” he wrote of the escalation, “It is still the right thing to try — as long as we do not count on it succeeding.” In March, O’Hanlon urged Congress to “give [Bush’s] surge strategy a chance.”

With Bush’s escalation policy on the ropes, O’Hanlon earlier this month introduced a new plan to delay redeployment and maintain the U.S. occupation. He called for the “soft partition” of Iraq into three main regions. At a press conference, O’Hanlon explained the impact of his plan:

We do not think this will lead to an immediate troop reduction for the United States, at least not a major one. … So notionally, 155,000 U.S. forces now. If this plan were adopted in the course of the fall, you’re probably over a 100,000 U.S. forces throughout all of 2008, maybe even into 2009. And perhaps you settle into a range of perhaps 50,000 U.S. forces for perhaps several years thereafter.

Watch it:


With Congress mulling over a host of legislative proposals to deal with the future of Iraq, O’Hanlon is clamoring to get attention for his “soft partition” plan. Today, he appears on a panel in the Capitol building to discuss his proposal, along with the authors of the Center for American Progress’ Strategic Reset plan.


In a region torn by sectarian strife and civil war as a result of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, O’Hanlon believes the proper role for 100,000 American troops is to oversee the mass relocations of Sunnis and Shiites to different regions of the country. Clearly, O’Hanlon has learned nothing from the past four years.