September 30, 2003

Constitution Drafting Can someone show

Constitution Drafting

Can someone show this to the French?

And, even if you want to argue that sovereignty can be handed over before the Constitution is finalized, note this peril:

"Noureddine and other council members said a longer timetable to write the constitution should not result in a longer occupation. They rejected the Bush administration's view that a constitution and elections must precede a transfer of sovereignty, insisting that the issues should be separate.

Bush administration officials contend that if they transfer sovereignty before a constitution is drafted and a democratically elected government is seated, the interim political authority could prolong or subvert the process. "If a constitution has to be drafted before there can be a government, you bet we'll get a constitution," one U.S. official said."

It's smart to pressure the Iraqis to get the Constitution drafted before sovereignty is handed over. That way, we can at least ensure the Constitution contains "principles [of] federalism, democracy, nonviolence, a respect for diversity and a role for women."

Bremer takes pains to stress the document will be drafted by Iraqis. That's, of course, critical. But it's fair to at least monitor that the resulting document contain the above key principles/rights.

So the Constitution-writing process is likely going to prove messy, protracted and complex.

But the larger point is simply to pause and witness how such important debates, ideas, horse-trading etc. are playing out in the nascent Iraqi polity.

Delegates to a constitutional convention to be chosen by popular vote? Or the selection of "wise men" to ward off the dangers of crude Shi'a majoritarianism?

No, wait. How about:

"A compromise approach that appears to be gaining support is to hold caucuses in provinces where religious, political and tribal leaders could assemble and select a few delegates to represent them at the convention. The 250 or so delegates could be augmented with a few appointed members, particularly legal scholars and other academics, supporters of that approach said."

Caucuses? In Iraq? Who would have thought?

From the ashes of Saddam's totalilatarian regime, democracy is stirring. Fitfully, yes. In the midst of a dismal security situation in (one part) of the country, yes.

But progress is being made. Let all the Iraq nay-sayers continue to castigate Dubya for his foolhardy and reckless adventure.

But History's verdict is still very much at play. And I'm betting Dubya's big bet is yet going to pay off. He may yet create a functioning democracy in Mesopotamia. It's just going to take a while. And cost a lot in terms of blood and treasure. But the potential rewards are immense. So keep the faith. This was never going to be easy.

UPDATE: Go check out how Pat Tyler writes up the same story in the NYT. Might there be a "coalition efforts are floundering" kind of agenda at play here? Just asking.

Posted by Gregory at September 30, 2003 12:33 AM

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