Iraqi Constitution - They Call This Victory?

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Iraq, United States Of America Views: 5154

The incompetence of the U.S. government's policy in Iraq was demonstrated by this weekend's referendum on the Iraq Constitution. The Constitution, written by the Shi'a and Kurds, has passed, over the objections of many Sunnis. Yet it symbolizes one of the U.S. government's biggest errors in Iraq: confusing democracy with liberty.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S.-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 U.S. 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 U. S. 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 the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

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  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Iraq, United States Of America
Views: 5154

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Older Comments:
AHMED said:
Actually "Open minded" we do support good things, which is why we are against the fiasco you call the "new Iraq." Theres no such thing as free and fair elctions in a country under a brutal foreign occupation with its own handpicked puppets masquerading as "leaders." You "liberators" arent fooling anybody with tales of WMDs and other lies you used to illegally invade Iraq. Go tell the families of the 130000 you killed that their country being turned into a hellhole is a "good thing."
Obviously you dont know what you're talking about, your appropriate name should be "ignorant and narrow minded."

Why can't you support the good things that taking place in Iraq?
Things are going in the right direction and we should support that. Is it hard for you to accept new Iraq.
You are trying and wishing for civil war. Iraqi people are smarter than that and they have proved over and over that living in peace is true fact and peace is the way to go.
So, stay away from your nagative views and look for other countres to pick on.

Light grows best when shared. The more evenly it is shared the more widely it can be shared. A real democracy is based on this concept. A republic however is a separation of light and governance. The US would be much better off promoting a democracy in Iraq than it is calling a republic "democracy".
But then the military occupiers with their acceptance of hierarchical command and control know less about democracy than they know of Islam. Scaling "govern yourselves through mutual consultation" to a national scale will require significant rethinking of the communication processes and national knowledge management. It will also require retraining the western thought processes, something that, while necessitating a grass roots effort, will require initiation by the religious leaders.

please pray for the suffering to be lifted from the people of iraq after decades of torture and oppression they should have the chance to live and worship as one united country, they just want to have the freedom to look after their families and not be constantly terrified of being bombed byh these misguided suicide bombers, please condemn their actions how is it right to murder children women and innocent civilans do not let them use the name of islam to justify it, murder is wrong and the civil war has to stop, all musllims in iraq used to live harmoniously together, marrry together work and study together now they can't trust anyone, is this islam, i converted because i loved the message that muslims are one ummah togther and if one believes in quran, sunnah of prophet muhammed then small political differences should not divide the can we show the non believers the right way if we cannot love our brother muslims, we all pray and read quran together, where does it say it is right to kill the innocent.

Thanks for your insight on what's really going on in Iraq. Our governments bad foriegn policies in Southwest Asia will be the nightmare we will never be able to shake. Our leaders have made a grave error in trying to colonize Iraq. It was always about controlling the oil wealth and never about the Iraqi people who have suffered under the injustices of Saddam's government. Unfortunately, they will continue to suffer because without JUSTICE, there will never be PEACE. It is they who will continue to suffer when civil war breaks out. It's time the American people wake up from the war hype. How many more innocent people must die before we wake up and see the injustices we have committed as a nation? How many Iraqi babies must die? How many more young American soldiers? Who are we to impose our type of government on everyone? Our economy is falling apart at the seems, people are struggling to make a living, and our elderly are struggling to buy medicines they so desperately need. Let's take care of our citizens and hold true to the fundamentals of liberty and justice for all and respect for human rights or are these liberties for a select few?

I am not against this article per say. There are many things in it that I whole-heartedly agree with. However, there are many things that I disagree with. After everything that the Iraqi people went through under Saddam and the US invasion, it is interesting to have sugarcoat or water down with the armed minority is doing to resist the constitution. The deliberate killing and bombing of Iraqi civillians without care if that they are innocent children, women, old men seems to have no bearing in this article. Call them what they are. Terrorists, bloodthirsty, hiding behind the cloak of Islam. What they are doing alienates them in a country where they are a minority, and puts any non-resistant minority in harm's way and in jeopardy of retaliation attack. They do not fear God and they have no conscience; if they did, how could they justify their mindless bloody actions. They do not discriminate between an invader or a bystander. They do not respect other people's God given right to their own beliefs and opinions. They think that by killing innocent people they will get a say in Iraq? All they get is people's hatred and disdain. When a person commits the atrocities they did on his or her own people, that person loses any and all right they have in that country.

NA FROM US said:
The vicotry is only in the eyes of the US and it's allies. The victory should be for the people of Iraq. The consititution is written for the sole purpose of the Americans and Israeli.
Now US and the allies are now after Syria for supporting terrorism, what about Israeli is supports terrorism and US to. Since Israeli is drawing the borders to take more land from west bank and sure they gave a small piece back to
the Palestine. The person that must go is Sharon.
He is not man of peace, he is man of war.