Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This is a short entry into a subject which derserves a book-sized exposition, but this week Iraqi leaders are striving to settle their differences in order to present the assembly a final version of what would become an Iraqi Constitution.

Two quick points: the first an unattributed quote from an American official, and the second point is about handling the tough issues.

Point One. This quote caught my attention:
"U.S. officials, pressing for a deal in time for an October referendum, hope a constitution will undermine the revolt among the Sunni Arab minority..."

This mind set that the Sunni population and those tied directly to the insurgent attacks will be hushed by democracy and consitutional government has never proven correct. It is disconcerting that this fallacy continues, that democratizing a people will stop discontent somehow. The wish for this to become a reality is almost wholly derived from the Administration's political hope that Iraq will be what it says it is - a successful foreign policy initiative.

Point Two.

Kicking the wasp-infested-can down the road. Later in the article linked above, this thought emerges:

"'We don't mind the Kurdish region but with the same borders as before the war in 2003. We want to fix everything now, but they don't want to define it, so maybe they can expand in the future. Then there will be a war,' he [Saleh al-Mutlak, a leading Arab nationalist] said.

Kurds can cite the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), agreed last year, which says the issue of Kirkuk, a disputed city which they want to be included in their region eventually, should be left until later."

When considering a constitution, it should not be viewed as a document that legislates small or local issues or makes permanent solutions to temporary problems. In this case however, Kirkuk may very well be central to the way Iraq is run. The area has great oil reserves, it is made up of Kurds, Arabs, and Turks, and has the potential to light the country on fire with political and civil discontent if handled improperly.

It has the same ignition value that slavery had for the United States. The main idea of autonomy for regions or groups of people and the authority that a central government possesses are being wrangled over. With this in mind, the best that the current Administration in the U.S. can hope for is that everyone loses out equally with the final document complete since one group taking a disproportionate "win" out of the constitution-making process will be viewed with a jealous eye by the "losers".

To that end, this compromise may ensure more violence and hatred among the several groups than relieve it.

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