Thursday, August 25, 2005

Constitutional Conventions

“Iraq wasn’t created by God. It was created by Winston Churchill,” the smarmy and frequently unperceptive Peter W. Galbraith, former ambassador to Croatia, explains to the New York Times’ David Brooks in “Divided They Stand”. This time, the proverbial stopped clock is right. Speaking of the newly forged Iraqi constitution, Galbraith says that “this is the only possible deal that can bring stability. . . . I do believe it might save the country.” Why? As Brooks explains concisely, “this constitution gives each group what it wants. It will create a very loose federation in which only things like fiscal and foreign policy are controlled in the center (even tax policy is decentralized). Oil revenues are supposed to be distributed on a per capita basis, and no group will feel inordinately oppressed by the others.
“The Kurds and Shiites understand what a good deal this is. The Sunni leaders selected to attend the convention are howling because they are former Baathists who dream of a return to centralized power. But ordinary Sunnis, Galbraith says, will come to realize this deal protects them, too.”
As Brooks relates in his brief essay, the far more perspicacious Raul Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute (and formerly of the CIA) concurs with Galbraith. “What’s important, Gerecht has emphasized, is the democratic process: setting up a system in which the different groups, secular and clerical, will have to bargain with one another, campaign and deal with the real-world consequences of their ideas. This is what’s going to moderate them and lead to progress. This constitution does that. Shutting them out would lead to war.
“The constitution also exposes the canard that America is some imperial power trying to impose its values on the world.”
Much more about the Iraqi constitution later today or tomorrow. In the interim, be sure to see Brooks’ article.

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