Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Progress Is Progress

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Okay... I've had some time to think about it and to study the issue more. The draft constitution for Iraq does, indeed, say that islam will be the main source for legislation... but that is pretty much the limit of that type of wording.

The rest of the constitution is filled with positive articles and clauses... to wit:

[[ Article Seven

1. Any organization that follow a racist, terrorist, extremist, sectarian-cleaning ideology or circulates or justifies such beliefs is banned, especially Saddam's Baath Party in Iraq and its symbols under any name. And this should not be part of the political pluralism in Iraq.

2. The government is committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms, and works to protect Iraqi soil from being a center or passage for terrorist activities.
]]

Now THAT'S the kind of wording we need to see more of throughout the Middle East!

My optimism is back... and I think the world will soon see the emergence of a real, functioning, honest-to-goodness democracy.

We who are realists have been saying that islam and democracy are mutually exclusive... in fact, on that point, most of us have agreed with the islamo-fascists. Now, though, we have Iraq trying to rise from its own ashes like a new-age phoenix in the midst of terror and fundamental extremism... proclaiming itself as a democracy AND an islamic state. Okay...

Maybe this is the thing we have all been waiting for. There is no way to take islam out of the Middle East... but what if they succeed in taking the Middle East out of islam?? I think it may be the only way we will ever see stability there. Making muslims believe that the islamo-fascists and the western Conservatives are all wrong... and that islam CAN exists inside a flourishing democracy. Not to use the tired old "moderate" word, but it might be fitting here.

Maybe this is the first step in bringing islam out of the dark ages... and into a sort of reformation...?

Here's the draft of the constitution- it doesn't take very long to read.

(LINK to Iraqi draft constitution)

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Tsar Lazar said...

Talk is cheap. We'll see how long the committment to fighting "sectarian-cleaning ideology" lasts. My guess is it will mean nothing for the dhimmis in Iraq; it seems geared towards fighting Baathists and thier insurgent leftovers.

As for section 2, well, if you believe THAT isn't just to satisfy the US in the short run, I've got some fantastic beachfront property in Taos I could sell you.

Sorry, but the Islamic nations have a 0.0 batting average when it comes to this sort of thing, and most of them have it written into thier "constitutions."

Pomoze Bog.
Tsar Lazar

23/8/05 07:48  
Blogger kmg said...

Thanks a lot, Tsar...!!

I finally get myself back to my usual optimism... and start looking for the good things... and you have to go and remind me that we're dealing with a morally and civily corrupt area...

...stupid facts...

Well, I'm going to hold out a measure of hope... and maybe if enough of us do that, then our idealism will become contagious, and...

oh, there I go again...

...geez... it's hard to be optimistic in the face of reality sometimes.

23/8/05 08:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep the faith. Democracies generally try harder to live by their constitutions than dictatorships do. We should be prepared for failure, certainly, but to expect it is to assure its arrival. After all the blood and treasure spent there, by the Iraqi people as much as the Coalition, they deserve a chance to back their words with action, IMO.

Steve

23/8/05 16:00  
Blogger kmg said...

I strongly concur, Steve... a functioning free state of Iraq is the biggest weapon we could ever have against islamic tryanny and terrorism.

23/8/05 16:58  
Anonymous Tsar Lazar said...

Of course, in the interests of crushing your well-meaning but feeble optimism, if the Iraqi Republic DOES succeed, it will become a target of every free-ranging mujahadi in the Muslim world for just that reason. We're constructing a terrorist magnet with a big bulls-eye painted right in the center. It will be a bloody shooting gallery.

PS Just kidding about crushing your optimism, BTW... :) However, when it comes to the Islamic world, the glass is ALWAYS half-empty.

Pomoze Bog.
Tsar Lazar

23/8/05 21:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better to have that bullseye over there than over here. Although it will still be here but still its nice to spread the wealth!

24/8/05 06:14  
Blogger husker_met said...

Actually I believe the actual test reads Islam will be "a main source for legislation" (we can thank the more secular Kurds for that one).

The real hitch in the gitalong right now is federalism. This one's going to be a tough nut to crack.

Even the U.S. had a lot of difficulty in sorting out this issue back in the day, and we all fundamentally liked each other. Sometime go back and review the Federalist/Anti-Federalist scrape between about 1778 and 1789. Roughly eleven years of political infighting and rancor.

Hindsight's 20/20 but I wish like hell we would have taken a few of these things into account during the invasion planning. We might have been better off decapitating the regime and demanding reforms in return for withdrawal. Or just making Iraq our 51st state, which is the way me and my V8 would have preferred (one of the many reasons I will never be elected President I suppose).

My biggest fear now involves civil war or a secession movement (the Kurds are already making rumblings about this). If that happens we will be redrawing the map once again to include Kurdistan, a Shi'ite Iraq in the south and a Sunni central region extending to Syria.

Once we get the political boundaries set up, we can start the disputes over oil, Persian Gulf access.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the Sunnis are going to have to be dealt with very harshly and very quickly, or that the Sunnis and Kurds are going to have to go the extra mile and a half to write into the constitution the exact nature and scope of a federal government (neither of which paints a particularly sunny future).

Sorry kmg. We've got problems surfacing in Iraq that will keep us in the region for the next 20 years minimum.

The good news is that even in the event of a Sunni uprising, at least we'll know who our friends are, and where our enemies are located (actually still in the same places they're located now). The Kurds and Shi'ites can exert pressure from the north and south and the Syrians and Iranians will no longer have a dog in the fight (or at least a much smaller dog).

Another sort of positive note is that the Sunni/Shi'ite divide will be exacerbated. These two groups hate each other more than they hate Jews or Christians, so maybe we can redirect their energies toward killing each other rather than us.

Not the most positive outcome we could have hoped for, but pragmatically, it would sap enemy unity in the GWOT, and that's worth something.

24/8/05 07:20  
Anonymous Tsar Lazar said...

Yes, Anon., I agree. I ALMOST mentioned that in last night's comment, but I didn't want to destroy kmg's optimism completely---I'd hate for him to give up blogging in despair. :p

But yes, from my own personal standpoint I hope they can succeed, because when the Iraqi Republic degenerates into a decade of civil war between various Islamic factions, it will accomplish several positives, in my view.

1) It will demonstrate once again that Islam and democracy are antithetical because of basic Muslim theology, thus MAYBE awakening the West to its danger

2) It will have Muslims at war with each other rather than with the (nominally) Christian West, which is always a good thing

3) It will keep the Tangos busy fighting in Iraq and less likely to aid Palestinians and other radical Islamic movements throughout the world

This sounds very Machiavellian, I know, but I view the Islamic threat as too great to be sentimental on this one.

My only regret with the failure of the Iraqi Republic will be for the innocents caught in the crossfire. God keep them and have mercy upon them.

Pomoze Bog.
Tsar Lazar

24/8/05 07:22  
Anonymous Tsar Lazar said...

Husker:

A good comment, but just a few points.

The Kurds are hardly more secular; quite the opposite. One of the reasons why the Baathist regime tried to wipe them out is that they posed a threat to any attempts to truly secularize Iraq, especially in their northern provinces. They like oil, but they are Islamic hardliners---although not, perhaps, to the degree that the Shi'ites to the south are.

As to knowing who our friends are, in the case of the Kurds that may well be correct. I don't think they'll forget the ways the US has aided them now and in the past.

But the Shi'ites hate our guts. That's why the Brits were designated to be the liberators of the south; US troops would NOT have been welcomed there. We hung them out to dry during Gulf War I, and they haven't forgotten it. Also, the southern Shi'ites have close ties with Iran, which as a Muslim nation has a huge Shi'ite majority. That means the south will be looking towards Iran rather than to central or northern Iraq. I see major Iranian attempts to create a puppet state in southern Iraq in the near future, or at the very least setting up a regime that is favorable to Tehran.

Pomoze Bog.
Tsar Lazar

24/8/05 07:34  
Blogger husker_met said...

To clarify, I only assert the Kurds are more secular, not completely secular. Sort of like the difference between Southern Baptists and Pentacostals. They're both fundie, but at least a Baptist won't pretend he doesn't know you at the liquor store.

Although Shi'a is the most common religious form for Iraqi Kurds, there are actually many different religions practiced by the ethnic group (including weird permutations of Shi'a Islam combined with Coptic Christianity, Sufism and Zoroastrianism). This melange of religious beliefs, combined with a recent history of democratic experimentation in the Kurdish Safe Zone, IMO, was the point of contention with Shari'a. Cf. this from the Assyrian International News Agency:

The Kurds had objected to a Shi'ite proposal that would make Shari'a law the basic source of legislation in the new Iraq. That issue appears to have been resolved in recent days, with Shari'a being identified merely as "a" source of legislation.

Now, that's not to say that certain groups like the PKK aren't nutjobs, but again even the nutjobs have been tempered a bit by Kurdish nationalism. It's the really fringe A-Q sympathisers we need to watch out for among the Kurds. Thankfully, they have not achieved a great deal of traction among the Kurdish nationalists (the Talabani PUK segment). It's the Kurdish mainstream we have to support, rather than the totality of Kurds (including Iranian and Turkish Kurds).

Speaking of Turkey, that brings up another problem. Turkey is going to be wildly opposed to Kurdish autonomy. Start looking for Turkish border incursions starting about 10 minutes after the formation of a Kurdish federal state. And that's only if their watches are 9 minutes slow.

In re: the Shi'ites...

Despite the fact that we sold them down the river, the Shi'ites will play ball with us as long as the issue involves Sunnis on the other side. Al-Sadr and the rest of his Mahdi thugs are definitely not representative of the political vibe from the Shi'ites. John Q. Iraqi Shi'ite may hate our collective guts, but sees the U.S. as a necessary evil in the repression of the Sunni minority, at least during this phase . The real x-factor with the Shi'ites is how much more deeply held their religious loyalties are than their national loyalties.

Remember, there is a large ethnic enmity between Arab and Persian Shi'ites. Even during the Iran/Iraq war, Iraqi Shi'ites served in Saddam's army (granted they were MOS "Bullet Stopper" or "Minefield Tap Dancer"). But, one of the mass graves was a group of Shi'ite soldiers that refused orders during some battle because they didn't want to kill other Shi'ites. So at this point, who the hell knows? I can say that the Iraqi Shi'ite leadership outside Al-Sadr has given at least lip service to Iraqi independence from Iran.

I gotta agree though that Iran will definitely make a play in the south, and possibly in the north as well through the PKK/KDP. I'm skeptical that they will have the horsepower to do much more than set up a sympathetic regime in the south (they've got a lot of internal fish to fry right now) and I am truly doubtful that they will do anything as overt as an invasion or annexation (it wouldn't fit in with their assumed persona of noble victims at the U.N.). Weapons and covert influence will probably be about the extent of things.

All things being equal, at some point Iraqis of all stripes have to want this thing. One of the inherent flaws in the Sharansky schema is that by instituting democracy, we're giving these people an equal or greater chance of rejecting democracy, based on their inexperience with its benefits. In some ways, the old realpolitik method of setting up client states was a lot better system, as it produced fairly reliable results (though short term). But this is a learning experience for us as well.

Being only moderately neo-con, there is much that is troubling for me about Iraq. Although I am an advocate of spreading democracy, I've long held that the best way of doing that is through economic engagement (which was the true genius of the Marshall Plan). Flooding Iran with things like miniskirts and Brittany Spears CDs (some have suggested heroin as well) goes a long ways toward hastening the end of mullahcracy.

When things break down into requiring military action, you do it with crushing force. Force restructuring is all well and good (I am an advocate), but we were neither restructured nor retrained in March 2003. We had the bomb and maneuver elements in place, but didn't have the post-war elements in place. We now have paratroopers and Marines playing beat cop and building soccer fields rather than specific military units desgined and trained for such things. Again, we are on the lower end of a steep learning curve.

24/8/05 10:15  
Anonymous Tsar Lazar said...

Yes, I agree about the Turks...they're going to have a cow if the Kurds leave the reservation. They'll see it as PKK Central Command.

A good response...thanks.

Pomoze Bog.
Tsar Lazar

24/8/05 11:54  
Blogger husker_met said...

One thing I think we can all agree on...

This thing is like trying to predict a pachinko board. Way too many balls and pegs in play all at once.

Hope and pray for the best, but plan for the worst is about all we can do now.

24/8/05 12:46  

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