The Iraq Constitution: And They Call This Victory?
Curiously, the United States has forgotten the wisdom of its own founders, who were more concerned with liberty than democracy. In fact, many of them regarded democracy as “mob rule.” They realized that a majority, through an election, could gain control of government power and impose tyranny on a minority. They wisely limited the jurisdiction of government, created competing branches to diffuse governmental power, and created a bill of rights so that government could not usurp the liberties of the minority. Unfortunately, over the course of US history, the American public, media, and politicians have become enamored with democracy at the expense of liberty.
Regrettably, it may take a policy failure in Iraq to refresh the American memory about the wisdom of the founders. The US government has instituted, by force, democratic processes in Iraq. However, this effort does not solve the main problem: convincing a disaffected, well-armed minority to quit fighting against the Iraqi government and the US occupation that props it up. In fact, the democratic process—in this case, the constitutional referendum—has conclusively demonstrated to the Sunnis that even if they vote, they are at the mercy of the alliance of Kurds and Shi’a. Thus, the referendum will likely fuel the rebellion, not weaken it.
The situation in Iraq has so deteriorated that a civil war is now the most likely outcome. Ironically, a rejection of the constitution might possibly have diminished the chances of such an all-out internecine bloodbath. In sharp contrast to the president’s “happy talk to victory” strategy, a constitutional defeat could have compelled a start for genuine Iraqi self-determination. A conclave of representatives from all of Iraq’s diverse tribes and ethnic and religious groups meeting on their own timetable would have allowed true consensus-building. In such a grand council, the Iraqis would have had a variety of possible governing structures to choose from, not just an imposed US-style federation. More than likely, they would have eventually chosen some type of looser confederation or even a partition.
Although the Sunnis now oppose such decentralized structures, their opposition centers more on the potential loss of oil revenues to the Kurds and Shi’a and less on regaining control of the entire country. This problem might have been solved by a negotiated arrangement to share oil revenues among the decentralized regions or by redrawing the map to give the Sunnis some of the oil fields. A myth exists that to ensure stability, decentralized regional governments would have needed to administer contiguous parcels of land. Finally, the knowledge that US forces, which protect Shi’ite and Kurdish interests, would have been withdrawing quickly would have given those groups an incentive to quickly reach an agreement on sharing oil fields or revenues with the Sunnis.
But alas, the constitution has been approved, the insurgency will continue and probably intensify, and the United States seems likely to continue to adopt policies that will make the situation in Iraq worse. For example, a congressional source informs me that Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, the chairman and ranking minority member of the House International Affairs Committee, will surreptitiously attempt to impose further economic sanctions on Syria—ostensibly to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but really to turn the screws for not preventing Iraqi insurgents and supplies from crossing the porous Syrian-Iraqi border.
Since Syria has provided some help to the United States in the war on terrorism, perhaps the US government should use carrots instead of sticks. Instead of imposing new sanctions, the United States could offer to remove existing sanctions if the Syrians tighten up the border. And if, by some miracle, an eventual political settlement that quelled the violence was ever reached in Iraq, a better relationship with Syria might provide the Assad government with an incentive not to undermine it. But the U.S. government keeps soldiering on with its bellicose—and counterproductive—policy toward Syria, which could put the United States on a trajectory for war with that nation.
Unfortunately, the founders’ enlightened policies that treasured liberty and presumed friendly relations with all nations are long gone. Instead, the United States is now tragically faced with a downward spiral into an Iraqi civil war.
Ivan Eland is a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, Director of the Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty, and author of the books The Empire Has No Clothes and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy. He may be reached at DTheroux@independent.org.
Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
This story was published on October 21, 2005.
Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
06.20 ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Agenda Benefits Koch Industries, Nationwide [the sociopaths are at it again]
06.16 Delhi's air pollution is now so bad it is literally off the chart [an increasingly deadly problem]
06.15 What if Canada had backed wind energy instead of the oil sands? [infographic]
06.10 Microplastics in our mussels: the sea is feeding human garbage back to us [our pollution becomes us...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
06.22 As 'Wealthiest and Freest Country in the World,' Nikki Haley Tells Bernie Sanders It's 'Ridiculous' to Examine US Poverty [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
06.22 50 Years Later, We Still Have a Dream [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
06.21 James Comey: 'You stare at children crying – what kind of people are we?’ [We have stupidly allowed bribery and greed to corrupt government to the point where morality—and what's best for people is totally ignored...is considered too late.]
06.20 Democratic candidates vow to dump Pelosi [if you want single-payer, then corporate Democrats must not have leadership]
06.20 Millions Lack Food, Housing, and Healthcare, But 38 Democrats Just Joined GOP to Spend $716 Billion on Endless War and Empire [it's about pleasing your corporate base for huge “campaign donations”]
06.20 'Morally Bankrupt': After Tax Cuts for Richest, House GOP Unveils $5.4 Trillion Attack on Nation's Safety Net [the sociopaths are at it again]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
06.22 The Unsurpassed Power Trip by an Insuperable Control Freak: An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
International & Futurism
06.22 Europe’s democrats must unite to prevent a far-right takeover [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]
06.20 'Outraged, But Frankly Not Surprised': In Defense of Serial Violator Israel, US Ditches UN Human Rights Council [the sociopaths are at it again]