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Dividing Divided States, Gregory F. Treverton

Reviewed by Christopher Cyr



Gregory F. Treverton wrote this book to provide “tentative lessons about how dividing states have handled the particulars in their own divorces, from oil and water to security, citizenship, and assets” (p. 3). He intends for the book to be read by a policy-oriented audience and writes accordingly. Each chapter begins with policy lessons and then provides case studies to illustrate those lessons. While South Sudan is usually present in the background of the analysis, it is meant to be a general discussion of secession. Readers interested in current events such as the dispute in eastern Ukraine or the Scottish independence movement will also likely be interested in this book.

Treverton divides the issues associated with secession into three main categories: people, natural resources, and national resources. Throughout all of the issues, he urges parties to start early in their negotiations. For example, he argues that Estonia’s early start to monetary reform was critical, “providing as much time as possible for transition to new arrangements” (p. 171).

Treverton suggests that people be allowed to choose which country they would like to be citizens of and that states should start early to establish policies for refugees and pastoral people. Ethiopia and Eritrea serve as a cautionary tale in this category. Each country expel

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