Sunday, August 28, 2005


Prespective on the Iraqi Constitution

posted by Rob at 8:46 AM

The latest from Mark Steyn:
Iraqi nation-building coverage is like one almighty cable-news Hurricane Ahmed. The network correspondents climb into their oilskins and waders and wrap themselves round a lamppost on the boardwalk and insist that civil war's about to make landfall any minute now, devastating the handover/elections/constitution. But it never does. Hurricane Ahmed is simply the breezy back and forth of healthy politicking.
He then lays out what is happening:
What the naysayers cite as the main drawback of Iraq -- it's not a real country, just a phony-baloney jurisdiction cobbled together to suit the administrative convenience of the British Colonial Office, never gonna work, bound to fall apart -- is, in fact, its big advantage: If you want to start an experiment in Middle Eastern liberty, where better than a nation split three ways where no one group can easily dominate the other two? The new constitution provides something for everyone:

The Shia get an acknowledgment that Islam is "the official religion of the state," just as the Church of England is the official church of that state -- though, unlike the Anglican bishops, Iraq's imams won't get permanent seats in the national legislature.

The Kurds get a loose federal structure in which just about everything except national defense and foreign policy is reserved to regions and provinces. I said in the week after Baghdad fell that the Kurds would settle for being Quebec to Iraq's Canada, and so they have.

The Sunnis, who ran Iraq from their days as Britain's colonial managing class right up to the toppling of Saddam, don't like the federal structure, not least because it's the Kurds and Shia who have the bulk of the oil. So they've been wooed with an arrangement whereby the country's oil revenue will be divided at a national level on a per-capita basis.

If you'd 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 that Iraq is a Muslim nation but reserves political power for elected legislators -- and divides the oil revenue fairly.
Don;t expect to hear this type of analysis anywhere near a MSM camera,

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