Monday, August 29, 2005

Mark Steyn, Capt. Ed on the Iraqi Constitution

In any democracy, unanimous votes are pretty rare. When you have a collection of people coming from different backgrounds and possessing different goals and ideals, it's nearly inevitable that any topic will produce someone opposed to the action being considered. The larger the group, the greater the likelihood is. So it is with the Iraqi draft Constitution which was sent to the National Assembly this week sans consenus thanks in large part to the Sunni contingent of the committee. My thoughts upon hearing this were that while it would certainly have been nice to bring a compromise to the table that everyone could get behind, that's not a requirement in a democracy. The committee did the best they could and produced a document that it - taken as a whole - thought served the Iraqi people best. Mark Steyn's commentary in this morning's Washington Times addresses a number of topics, including the never-say-success coverage of the process in the media. He gets to the point of the matter, as well:

::::::::If you had been asked in 2003 to devise an ideal constitution for Iraq's very non-ideal circumstances, it would look something like this: a highly decentralized federation that accepts the reality Iraq is a Muslim nation but reserves political power for elected legislators -- and divides the oil revenue fairly.

And if it doesn't work? Well, that's what the Sunni are twitchy about. If Ba'athist dead-enders and imported Islamonuts from Saudi and Syria want to make Iraq ungovernable, the country will dissolve into a democratic Kurdistan, a democratic Shiastan, and a moribund Sunni squat in the middle. And, in the grander scheme, that wouldn't be so terrible either.

In Iraq right now the glass is about two-thirds full. Those two thirds will not be drained down to Sunni Triangle levels of despair.

Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters also brings up the fact that the Sunni group in the committee was 1) allowed on-board after boycotting the elections in January, and in greater numbers than their population would normally have in representation, and 2) that both the Shia and the Kurds allowed compromises into the Constitution in an effort to meet the Sunni halfway. The Sunni merely took that inch and demanded a yard:

::::::::The Kurds and Shiites attempted to compromise with the Sunnis, even going as far as an offer to reinstate the Ba'ath Party, minus any support for Saddam and his propaganda. They offered to postpone any motions for federalism, keeping the concept but not exercising it until the next Assembly could get elected, save for the Kurds' hard-fought autonomy. In return, the Sunnis submitted a new list of demands in the final hours, demonstrating their bad faith and determination to sink any agreement that did not restore them to power.::::::::

The latest thing, however, is mentioned by Ed a few paragraphs later:

::::::::On the other hand, the Guardian reports that the Sunnis have asked other Arab nations to step in and block the draft from going to the voters, along with the UN and other international organizations. That end-run around democracy will not please their fellow Iraqis in the Kurdish and Shi'ite territories. The Kurds especially will resent Arab League interference, especially since they've run their own democracy in the north for over a decade while the Arab League tried to force the Coalition to leave Iraq to Saddam during the entire time since Gulf War I.::::::::

Considering that those "other Arab nations" have either staunchly refused to send any assistance to Iraq to date or have been involved in allowing foreign terrorists into Iraq to attack Coalition forces and Iraqi citizens alike, it would appear those nations have little if any standing to block anything. And the UN's penchant for heading for the hills the second things get tough doesn't give them a whole lot of leverage, either.

Frankly, this process is proceeding exactly as it should. The 3 major groups - none of which has the power alone to lord it over the others - are engaged in politics and are making their decisions by the rule of law and the practice of democracy. Beats torture chambers and rape rooms any day. Media reports to the contrary, the Iraqis are, so far, handling this well. Let's see what happens in October when the Assembly meets.