August 25, 2005

"The U.S. has orchestrated a document that is organically Iraqi."

Quoting two experts who usually disagree about Iraq, David Brooks takes a positive view of the Iraqi Constitution.
"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.


Goesh said...

Al Sadr had his office burned and 4 of his men shot. The foibles of democratic dissent....wag the purple finger, wag the AK-47. Where I was born and in the early days of statehood, there was a county dispute of where the county seat/Courthouse should be. Two towns were bickering and it ended when the one town took the then established legal records from a building in the opposing town and burned the building. Thus a county seat was finally established, where it remains to this day.

Monty Loree said...

I'm glad you're discussing the American / Iraq issue here.

I mentioned it on my blog, in regards to another issue and I got hammered with political commentary.

I think I'll leave the political commentary here.

Being Canadian, I sincerely hope that the U.S. powers to be tread very carefully with Iraq. Getting something that is organically Iraq implies that the Iraq people agree with it, and that it will fit naturally within their culture.

Problem is: it seems that the Iraqis have several old - intrenched cultures in their borders.

It will be interesting to see how "organic" they can make it.

Eddie said...

Historically, I suppose we could look back over time and say it was the British that really messed the Country up by putting three separate cultures together. However, the U.S. is a Country of hundreds of cultures living together in peace (at least night fighting over cultural differences, drugs yes, politics-no).

XWL said...

Separate cultures within a single democracy, problem yes, fatal no.

Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, India, South Africa and many others have absorbed and combined multiple cultural and linguistic groups under one flag. The melding isn't always pretty, the groups aren't all without continued animosity and special dispensations (think Canada's own Quebecois) and many of those countries had been combined by force of arms and not any great love between the participating groups.

I believe Iraq (and Arabs in general) aren't exceptional with regard to the will and ability to learn the habits of a multi-ethnic/religious/cultural democracy.

Will it be smooth, no, will it be pretty, no, will more blood be spilled, yes, will the U.S. be happy in 50 years with what they helped birth in the heart of the Arab world, absolutely (turns out even though we don't like to admit it, the U.S. are the all time heavyweight champions of nation building).

Monty Loree said...

leroy w:
Vive la Queb├ęcois! Some Quebecois think that they're a separate nation. They speak french, have a different law structure than the other provinces, etc. As such they pretty much stay within the french community.

Some Quebecois wouldn't mind parting from Canada.

The same goes for Newfoundland. They're an Island off of Canada. They've had their own culture since 1492 when Jacques Cartier came across.

The culture in Newfoundland is very old and mature relative to Saskatchewan which is only 100 years old. Newfoundlanders are pretty entrenched with how they feel.

Canada has it's strong political culture as well.

Financial Maturity Blog

Monty Loree said...

re: post above correction
John Cabot or Giovanni Caboto came across in 1497 to Newfoundland.

Cartier was a different time and different place.

XWL said...

I included that example mainly for you, Monty, but it does show that an uneasy marriage of cultures within a democratic state can last for a long time, problems can linger, and it can all be done with a minimum of bloodshed, and should that marriage lead to divorce (or devolution in the case of nation/states) that can also happen without bloodshed (Czech Republic/Slovakia as an example).

Also I'd like to rant on a slight tangent, shouldn't media outlets (mainly CNN) refrain from speaking of a 'growing anti-war movement' until they provide metrics for there conjecture.

Even more heated rhetoric amongst left-leaning websites and falling poll numbers (in polls with slippery , and changing, methodology) do not automatically equate to a 'growing anti-war movement'. Just as those with that perspective decry the current administration's favoring of repeated mantras, they might want to inspect the materials from which they have built their houses before picking up any heavy objects.

Anyone looking ahead at the future of West Germany or Japan from 1947 would not have dreamed that they would both be peaceful and prosperous as soon as 1960 (and yet still full of strife, still with large U.S. troop contingents, and still developing their own styles of democracy).

With many Iraq will be a failure, period (damn the facts). And just to be fair, with many, regardless of what happens, Iraq will be declared successful.

And now to attempt to put a pretty bow on this digression and claim relevancy to the topic at hand, creating fair civic structures from the ashes of a Stalinist state combining people with centuries of mutual antagonism will be often ugly, sometimes brutal, and incredibly difficult every step of the way.

But (this is the hopeful, rather than damning but), when this succeeds, and it must, the world will be different and better place, just as our own revolution changed the world (and just as the Marshall Plan prevented defeated peoples from becoming subjugated peoples).