Monday, December 27, 2004

USA The Model

Juan Cole wrote in his blog (11-28-04) that Iraqis were in effect electing a constitutional assembly and that the main business of the new parliament was to craft a permanent constitution:

So, the analogy would be to 1789. What would the new American Republic's chances have been if the Southern states had not been able to send delegates to the constitutional convention, and so had been excluded from having an input into it? All sorts of compromises had to be hammered out in 1789, concerning southern slavery and how to count a slave for census purposes, etc. If the South hadn't been able to show up, the northern states would simply have ignored those issues, and the secession of those states might have come 70 years early. Would the North have been able to resist it so successfully at that point?

Likewise, Sunni Arabs have a big stake in the permanent constitution. Will it give Kirkuk and its oil to the Kurds, depriving Arabs of any share in those revenues? Will it ensconce Shiite law as the law of the land? Will it keep a unicameral parliament, in which Shiites would have a permanent majority, or will it create an upper chamber where Sunnis might be better represented, on the model of the US senate? If all those issues go against the Sunnis because they aren't there to argue their positions, it would set Iraq up for guerrilla war into the foreseeable future.

Just tell us, Professor Cole, how a one-man-one-vote based election is likely to result, constitutionally speaking, in limiting the Shi'ite influence in the country to 50% and guaranteeing the other 50% influence to Sunnis? As far as I know upper chambers in the USA were not so much about religious faith or even ethnicity as they were about territory. So how relevant is the model to us Middle Easterners? Why this fixation to the individual-based and state-centric Hamiltonian federalism? Why should we in the first hand prefer a Kanan Makiya-like federalism, not an Edward Said inspired bi-confessionalism? Why should we worship the US model?

Related readings:

'Staying the Course' Won't Do
By Patrick J. Buchanan
December 27, 2004

Iraq Rejects U.S. Talk of Adjusting Vote Result
By Luke Baker
December 26, 2004

Iraqi Elections
By Phyllis Bennis
December 20, 2004


Post a Comment

<< Home