Saturday, August 27, 2005

Iraq: Everybody has their Black Dog Days

Fire of Liberty

While several people are lamenting that Iraq seems to be heading towards chaos because the folks writing the constitution keep on extending the deadline on the final draft of the constitution due to several roadblocks or disputes between the varying parties/groups within Iraq, they seem to forget that this nation faced a bevy of problems itself when the delegates met in Philadelphia to write its constitution. Though there's a lot of books out there on the problems and disputes that faced our founding fathers in the creation of our wonderful constitution, I thought you'd find this column by John Avlon in the New York Sun very informative. Hopefully after you read Avlon's wonderful piece you'll have a better understanding of what troubles that our founders witnessed and addressed in their quest to place this powerful capstone on a nation that had endured so much to be a free nation and how these disputes seem to be universal fact that seems to occur within all other nations that come together to form a written constitution. As you know, politics or constitution writing is like making sausages, you don't want to see what goes on to make it but you have no problems eating and enjoying them. Now I know that Iraq is a Arab Islamic nation and lacks the history and cultural experiences that the West has endured but one thing I do know is that when a nation decides to turn and embrace the tenets of democracy it's best that they take time in getting things right even if that means several years down the road. We can throw together a constitution that satisfies everyone in the West but since the people in Iraq have their own culture and history, the might need to approach certain things more slower than the West but in the grand scale of things, the Iraqi people are moving in the right direction towards creating a model democracy that has been non-existent in the Middle East (Aside from Israel and Turkey) I think Avlon summed this point up in the following:
Such a tortuous timeline makes Iraq's one year goal for agreeing to and ratifying a new constitution seem positively - and perhaps naively - ambitious. Naysayers who insist that all the important issues facing the first Arab democracy must be dealt with completely in this document are not being realistic. In order to forge compromise, America's founders declined to deal with our original sin of slavery, punting it for succeeding generations to address. This perhaps made civil war inevitable, but only by that time were our civic institutions strong enough to survive such a fight. Likewise, as we judge Iraqi efforts to incorporate women's rights into a religious culture unaccustomed to such modern innovations, we would do well to remember that women in America were denied the right to vote until a constitutional amendment the 1920s. This was less than ideal, but we were still a democracy and a comparative beacon of freedom to the world. Concerns about the intended influence of Islamic law on the Iraqi constitution may prove well founded (hasn't anyone in that part of the world heard of separation of church and state?), but Islamic democracy is a work in progress.

Now the process of ratification for the Iraqi constitution has begun, with a nationwide referendum scheduled for October 15. This process will surely be fraught with complications. But Iraqi democracy, struggling to be born in an inhospitable part of the world, does not have the luxury of a search for perfection that leads to paralysis. In a time of high-stakes transition, doubt cannot be allowed to be in the driver's seat. We must believe that patience and persistence will lead to progress, as it did in our case, when success was far from certain. That constancy of purpose led Benjamin Franklin to reflect on how during the difficult days of the Constitutional Convention, he would stare at the half sun painted on the back of a chair in the room and wonder whether it was an omen of dawn or dusk for the republic. "Now," Franklin said, "I have the happiness to know that it is a rising, not a setting sun."
All I can say is I bid the folks in Iraq a good fortune and hope they can form a lasting government that will set about a sea-change towards democracy in a region wrapped in turmoil and tyranny. No matter how you look at it, the future of the West could revolve around how things go down in Iraq. If we can't win a viable future for Iraq then we could lose a powerful weapon from our armory. Let's get this one right so we don't have to keep answering as many 911 calls from the region. I prefer to have a large array of friends at our side in the region rather than a swamp full of snakes and crocodiles that are waiting to attack us if we ever slip. So my prayers go out for the success of this nation and the future of Iraq. I'm willing to wait, how about you.

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