"The Bush administration finally did something right in brokering this constitution," [Peter W. Galbraith, a former United States ambassador to Croatia] exclaimed, then added: "This is the only possible deal that can bring stability. ... I do believe it might save the country."...
Galbraith says he is frustrated with all the American critics who argue that the constitution divides the country. The country is already divided, he says, and drawing up a constitution that would artificially bind three divergent societies together would create only friction, violence and civil war. "It's not a problem if a country breaks up, only if it breaks up violently," Galbraith says. "Iraq wasn't created by God. It was created by Winston Churchill."...
It's crazy, [Iraq analyst, Reuel Marc Gerecht] says, to think that you could have an Iraqi constitution in which clerical authorities are not assigned a significant role. Voters supported clerical parties because they are, right now, the natural leaders of society and serve important social functions.
But this doesn't mean we have to start screaming about a 13th-century theocratic state. Understanding the clerics, Gerecht has argued, means understanding two things. First, the Shiite clerical establishment has made a substantial intellectual leap. It now firmly believes in one person one vote, and rejects the Iranian model. On the other hand, these folks don't think like us.
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.
August 25, 2005
Quoting two experts who usually disagree about Iraq, David Brooks takes a positive view of the Iraqi Constitution.