Tuesday, October 25, 2005

You Say You Want a Constitution

This weekend I heard a story on NPR about the new Iraqi constitution. Specifically, it was about the preamble. You can read the whole preamble here, but the part that really struck me was:

...and in the midst of an international support from our friends and those who love us, marched for the first time in our history toward the ballot boxes by the millions, men and women, young and old, on the thirtieth of January two thousand and five, invoking the pains of sectarian oppression sufferings inflicted by the autocratic clique and inspired by the tragedies of Iraq's martyrs, Shiite and Sunni, Arabs and Kurds and Turkmen and from all the other components of the people and recollecting the darkness of the ravage of the holy cities and the South in the Sha'abaniyya uprising and burnt by the flames of grief of the mass graves, the marshes, Al-Dujail and others and articulating the sufferings of racial oppression in the massacres of Halabcha, Barzan, Anfal and the Fayli Kurds...

After hearing this, I thought, who would put this stuff about mass graves and such into the preamble to a constitution? It would have to be someone who wanted to remind the Iraqi people, by codifying it into the very center of their legal and governmental system, of how bad things were in Iraq under Saddam, before we came in and fucked everything up even worse. Who, you ask, would want to do such a thing? I'll give you a hint: It's not the Iraqis. Sinan Antoon, the guy interviewed in the link above, gives another hint, when he compares Article 27, which establishes private property as "sacrosanct" to the rules set up by Paul Bremmer and the Provisional Authority, you know, to protect the oil wells and all.

My point is, yes, it's great that Iraq has a half-way decent constitution now. But let's not pretend like we didn't cram a bunch of our own shit into it to make sure that we don't get totally burned by the will of the Iraqi people and to protect our own interests.

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