Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Iraqi constitution

The Iraqis were voting about the proposed new constitution in an unusually peaceful atmosphere. The constitution would make Shiites and Kurds stronger, and therefore the areas dominated by these two groups were expected to vote "Yes".

More generally, the constitution is another step towards the independence of Iraq because it would replace the provisional, U.S.-controlled constitutional laws, and therefore it should not be too surprising if many anti-American people voted "Yes", too.

What do the results look like? The official final results are not available so far. The turnout was high and the national count will show a convincing "Yes" vote. However, there is a rule that if in at least 3 out of 18 provinces more than two thirds of the voters vote "No", the constitution is rejected.

The "No" vote was expected in the provinces where the Sunni Arabs have a majority - especially Ninevah and Diyala. However, unless there has been some kind of fraud in these areas, they voted "Yes"! However, there are two provinces - western Anbar around Fallujah and central Salahuddin - which have already voted a clear "No". The question is whether a third province will join these two.

Noah Feldman

If the constitution passes, it will be most importantly a victory for the Iraqi people. Second of all, it will be a victory for people like Noah Feldman. Noah - a full professor of law at N.Y.U. - who is now generally accepted to be a rising legal star was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows until 2003 and was chosen by the Bush administration to be the main U.S. brain behind the creation of the new Iraqi constitution. My understanding is that Noah is actually a de facto author of the current provisional laws only, but I guess that he will feel happy if his laws are superseded by a more authentic constitution.

Imagine: Noah who is an American Jew and a Democrat is sent by the G.O.P. administration to Iraq where he had to work with the Iraqis and more or less dictate them how their new crucial document should look like. I must say that I am impressed already by the very fact that they have not killed him (and also grateful, of course). Noah believes that democracy is compatible with Islam, he wrote a book based on this (controversial) basic idea, and it was one of the reasons why he was viewed as an authority. The developments in Iraq have so far been less encouraging than what I have hoped for (and what Noah has hoped for, I think), but all these things may improve substantially in the very near future.

1 comment:

  1. Whether the Iraqis voted up or voted down the new draft constitution. Either way it's their victory since it's their vote for a "yes" or their vote for a "no".

    I suspect you have had a chance to actually read the exact content of the constitution and studied what it says, before jumping to automatically decide that a "yes" is always necessarily better than "no". Here it is, if you want to bother spend some time reading it, before saying anything about it.

    In my opinion, this is one piece of crap awfully drafted, and surely does not look like a piece of constitution of a soverign country. That opinion is derived without any consideration of political point of view or bias one way or another.

    The US constitution starts with "We the people". There is no "We" in this Iraqis one. How could you expect a "We" for something drafted by a foreigner, in a country under foreign occupation?

    It authorize protection against terrorism, extremism, and catastrophes, but does not meantion "foreign invasion". Of course Iraq has no right to protect the integrity of its sovereignty against either foreign invasion or internal secession. In the later case, the right to secession is explicitly granted and actions against such secession is explicitly prohibited.

    The government shall have complete monopoly over mails and communication networks. Uh oh. So much for freedom of communication.

    Taxation is only levied from citizens. In another word, foreign personel or foreign interests are waived in taxation. It's awful enough if it is just a careless ommission, much worse if it is intended so.

    Overall the whole constitution is very empty, other than some decorative words about human rights etc. It's good poetry, but not an integral piece of a constitution of a country of 25 million. Too many important things are totally missing.