Saturday, July 23, 2005

Just Asking

You have to feel sorry for the Iraqis. There they are under the gun to produce a constitution and have it up and running by October.

It is as though Uncle Sam is standing by, foot tapping and eyes raised to heaven, with outstretched hand, demanding, “Okay, where is it? What’s taking so long? Are you guys fighting again? Play nice, why don’t you?”

So twenty-five million people who have lived under the worst sorts of government for generations are all of a sudden supposed to sit erect, grab their pencils and start acting like gentlemen of the Enlightenment.

Western-style feminists are demanding equal rights and their conservative counterparts held their own counter-demonstration declaring for stricter rules for reining in the women folk. Meanwhile the Sunnis are off sulking because they’re not in charge anymore. The Kurds are pushing for a quasi-federalism — at least that’s what their detractors claim — while everyone suspects the Shi’ites will try to slip the Koran into the works and send the citizenry spinning back to the Middle Ages.

Not that anyone remaining in that country would say so, but oy vey. What a mess.

It would be salutary to remember at this point that our constitution was a very long process. From the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 to the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788 was a long and winding road. In the process, the question of slavery got shelved just so we could be done with it and get on to making a country. Thus our hurry and our fear led us to a bloody and ruinous Civil War seventy three years later. We are still feeling the effects of that “hurry-up” back in the years from the Declaration of Independence to the final states’ ratification. We left out Negroes because we were afraid and we are still paying for our cowardice.

So let’s back off, hey? The Iraqis can learn from our mistakes, including our sense of urgency and our failure of nerve. Three questions to ponder as the Iraqis scrabble to find a workable solution:

1. What would our country have been like had we been willing to duke it out with the South for a no-slavery clause in our Constitution instead of postponing the inevitable for seventy five years?

2. What would our country be like if the 700,000 people who died in the Civil War had lived out the normal span of their lives? Those were our best and bravest, weren’t they?

3. What would it cost us to let the Iraqis have more breathing room if they want it?

Just asking.


Redneck Texan said...
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Redneck Texan said...

The people that were writing our Constitution did not require a foreign military presence to protect them from their own countrymen while they were writing it. How many of our founding fathers were executed by their own countrymen during the writing process.

I believe the Iraqis have irreconcilable differences that come with trying to artificially force three ethnic groups that hate each other into a confederation they don't really all want. Based on their long history, I question their ability to compromise on important fundamental issues, and I cant see any compromise getting the required votes for ratification under the current rules for ratification.

There just may be deeply rooted cultural reasons why these folks could never attain a free democratic society without doing it under the thumb of occupation by a foreign Democracy's army. They are a backwards culture that don't fully grasp the concept of Democracy and Freedom like our founding fathers did, and they may have to achieve it in backwards order by having their civil war war first in order for it to be self-sustaining.

Dymphna said...

Thanks for your comment. You always make me think!

Yes, there *are* differences between their attempts and ours. These are not gentlemen of the Enlightenment. But that Constitution they hammered out has been a beacon to others for these past two hundred years. And the Iraqis need breathing room that American political machinations are not allowing for.

And I do believe that the desire for liberty --and the concomitant responsibility that goes with it --is written in the human heart. At the same time, the fear that we won't survive others' intentions keeps us (all of humanity) fighting with one another. The Europeans only ever stopped fighting because we stepped in and made them stop.

I see our presence in the Middle East as the oxygen that let all the flammable material ignite...there are layers and layers waiting to burn. As in Syria. And the Iranians would love us to bop over there. At least about 90% of them would. Too bad we have to give so much to the UN. We could take the money and build the necessary military to do so....

But, anyway, I agree the Iraqis have "irreconcilable differences." But we did, too, Redneck. We shoved them under the rug for another couple or three generations so we could do nation-building. And then we almost lost what we'd built. And seven hundred thousand people died!

They may not want a confederation (and some of our states certainly didn't) but they want the peace and prosperity that comes with that kind of set-up. They are well-educated, family-oriented, and some of them, a signficant some, are moving toward a secular government. Or at least limiting Shar'ia until it withers away.

BTW, if you haven't read Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" I highly recommend it. As is usual with Sowell's books, one never looks at the world in quite the same way after he's finished with your mind.

airforcewife said...

I have noticed some eerie similarities between the civil war and the war we are fighting now. I've brought them up to several people, but they usually look at me like I'm nuts.

However, in the glory bin of history, the cruder aspects of the civil war - like Lincoln suspending habeas corpus, like the horrendous names and Lincoln's myriad of detractors (both for not doing enough and for doing too much), the draft riots, the practice of "buying" your way out of serving in the military being possible by using a proxy and leading to charges of the elite getting off scott free... and so many other things, have been glossed over by our "revised" textbooks.

I find many similarities there, I wonder if I still will in ten years time.

Redneck Texan said...

Another problem the drafters of our Constitution did not have to deal with was looking up after every line they wrote to see if their Ayatollah was giving them the nod or the thumbs down.

I am looking forward to seeing how many Iraqi women vote to ratify a document that gives them less rights than they had under Saddam.

Dymphna said...

You raise an interesting question.

How will they know how women voted? At last, Shi'ite women may have a little breathing room to say what they think. I just want to know how secret that ballot actually will be...

OTOH, remember Freud's "what do women want?" It's a toss-up.

The 'rights' anyone had under Saddam existed at his whim. I'd rather live in Hell.

BTW, in response to an earlier thought of yours, our founding fathers indeed were killed for their beliefs but so are some of these people being targeted. It's a hazardous job.

Pofarmer said...

There's one pretty good reason why it can't take 7 years. The American left doesn't have an attention span that long! Seriously, if we don't get this thing wrapped up the Kennedy's and Pelosi's, scum that they are, are just gonna call this thing a loss and keep calling it untill public support just absolutely crumbles. No matter what the cost to U.S. interests or to the Iraqi people.

Who would have thought there would be such a complete breakdown in Iraqi civil society? Of course, we now know that that was planned, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with with an armed force that wasn't really meant to be an occupation force.

Pofarmer said...

BTW, you've also got to realize that to understand the ethnic divides in Iraq, you have to realise that the boundaries of present day Iraq are fairly recently drawn, and didn't have much to do with any natural or cultural boundaries. That's a big a problem as any. These folks NEVER wanted to live together.

linearthinker said...

This is a little OT, but fits Dymphna's title. What prevents a repartition of Iraq so the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites each have a place? All I've seen on the issue of current boundaries is critical with respect to how they were drawn. Coming up with an equitable resource split might be a sensible place to start, after looking at traditional tribal boundaries. Look at Californians. Their neighbors manage to coexist with them. Of course, the Siskiyous, the Sierras, and the Mojave are persuasive buffers. Just asking.