October 10, 2005
Amending the (Proposed) Iraqi Constitution
From Sunday's Washington Post:
"Saudi Arabian and Jordanian officials, at the urging of U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, have called on Sunni politicians in Iraq to stick with negotiations until Monday, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. Iraqi lawmakers say Monday is the last possible date for bargaining over the language of the constitution, which will be put to voters next Saturday. Ballots are already being printed at a plant in Europe, and the first of millions of copies of the proposed constitution have been distributed across Iraq."
Democracy really does look different over there, doesn't it? Changing the wording of a national referendum less than a week before the vote - that really promotes the appearance of stability and a fair-minded system the voters can have faith in, no? And that people would be voting on a constitution different from that printed on the "millions of copies" that are being distributed to the populace - just a minor, technical matter I guess.
Posted by armand at October 10, 2005 11:01 AM
| Posted to International Affairs
Yes, democracy does look different over there. They actually are having the people have a vote on their constitution, something even our democratic forefathers did not do. Perhaps they should spend their time appointing judges like we do in our country, and soon any wording they do change in the last days will be moot because the judges can say it means whatever they want it to mean.
Morris you do realize that comment is inane drivel, right? What's the matter - do Antonin Scalia's blatant inconsistencies and Clarence Thomas' shocking disregard for precedent (which is, you know, understandably a central part of the US legal system) bother you that much? Or are you as frustrated as the US Supreme Court is at how the 5th Circuit continually distorts SCOTUS rulings on death penalty matters?
Though if you are suggesting that there should be more democracy in our electoral system I strongly agree with you and hope you'll agree with me that in an ideal world where we actually practiced what we preached we'd: 1) change the apportionment of the US Senate and 2) destroy the Electoral College once and for all. If we really believe in equal representation, both are blights on the US constitution.
Oh, I should congratulate you though on continuing your long tradition of commenting on matters that don't address what's in the post itself. That being the case, since you want to post in this thread I'll ask you outright - do you not see any problem with asking people to vote on referendum X when the text they see and what the referendum actually says are DIFFERENT THINGS. It strikes me that that's more than a small flaw, and calls into question whether or not this is really a vote on the proposed constitution - it seems to me that it's not.
does it matter if its a vote on the "proposed constitution"? no it doesnt. and does it matter that--pretending for the sake of argument that your right about the electoral college--our country does not abide by strict proportional representation? again, no. what matters is that are system has worked better than most any other system given the complication due to the size, diversity and external commitments of our country over its history. and what matter is that iraq has a constitution that its sectarian political leaders support, because after all, while we'd like to believe that every Iraqi can and will choose for themself, in truth on the day of the vote the avergae Iraqi will rely at least as much on what their religious leaders tell them as on their own independant, personal determintation. is iraqi society well suited for democracy in all the elated conotations of the word? no. by ratifying a constiution with support of all three groups can they get going on a general path--certainly better than the one they were on--that is more in line with all those elated conotations? yes. also "inane drivel". thats such an arrogant comment i imagine you talking in an english accent, wearing a smoking jacket with a pipe in your mouth.
Marc - In response to "we'd like to believe that every Iraqi can and will choose for themself, in truth on the day of the vote the avergae Iraqi will rely at least as much on what their religious leaders tell them as on their own independant, personal determintation" - I'd just ask, well, then why even bother having elections if the people can't think for themselves? To me, having elections that entail little more than calling on people queue up and mark some piece of paper without knowing what they are voting for is really something of an insult to the very idea of respresenative democracy - whether it's voting on something few have read, as will happen shortly, or voting for a slate of candidates, without knowing who's on the slate, as happened in January.
And if you think simply getting the elites to sign off is enough - well, which elites? And how many of them? From how broad a swath of the country? But even if that issue can be worked out, it's still far, far, far from the bill of goods the president has been selling the American people.
As to my arrogance, my brother has found some way to put up with it for years - and if he's going to insist on throwing out his own simple-minded barbs, why shouldn't I respond in kind?
Oh, and for the record I don't have an English accent, and I don't smoke anything - much less a pipe. I did buy a sweet red and black plaid 1950's smoking jacket recently though. I haven't had a chance to wear it to the right sort of costume party yet - but I am looking forward to it. As to whether or not I'll be arrogant when I where it, that remains to be seen.
well im not sure we can so worried about not insulting the very idea of representative democracy until we get stability and if we can get stability and it looks like to the rest of the world as perhaps more perfectly democratic than it is then all the better.
and i think we are beyond the point where we are discussing whether or not this election is what george bush sold to the country. stragetically, i dont think we have the luxury in iraq to sit back and wonder if we got we bargained for.
i mean its an interesting question to ponder. alothough im not sure this isnt what george bush sold to the country. i guess its all depends on what you thought he meant by establishing democracy there and within what kind of future time horizon he promised to establish it.
Well, whether or not it's what I personally expected isn't the point (I expected a giant mess, and that seems to be what we are stuck with). But I think it's extremely problematic for the the president of the United States to regularly portray something this important as something that it really isn't. It seems that more than once, presidents saying that X exists and then the public coming to the realization that X doesn't actually exist has fundamentally unhinged our policies, and we're left to try to come up with something workable in the aftermath - and in that situation even our best efforts might lack public support given (understandable) public skepticism. And without public support, it's hard to maintain any sort of steady, coherent policy, even if it does support the national interest (presuming the issue is one that gets a fair amount of media attention).
right its not what one expected but rather what one reasonably (or i guess even unreasonably)interpreted him to be promising. and i think painting a more rosy picture during a time of war is simply a political reality in just about every democratic country, or perhaps simply any country that has a free press. governments lie and at some point some of them cross over the line. has the government as a whole(including people who were around long before bush was around and will be around long after) under this adiminstration crossed that line? thats up to the individual to decide.
Sure, but if enough decide that the Bush administration has - and as the poll numbers get worse and worse that's looking increasingly likely - engaging in such a manipulative policy severely limits your ability to pursue any kind of coherent foreign policy in the future. Or put differently, if the public thinks policy X was a sham, that might taint their views of policies A B and C and make them harder to maintain, and might rule out the adoption of policies Y and Z altogether. And that's a real danger if policies Y and Z are the most efficient means by which we could secure a core national security goal.
And, back to Iraq, my fear is that by raising unrealistic expectations Bush may have greatly imperiled our ability to forceful act elsewhere in the region in the future, and be cutting the public's support for democracy initiatives that could be key to success in other areas. I worry that the public will be unwilling to back policies that resemble our current behavior in Iraq, even if those are the "right" policies in some future situation.
I understand your worries and they are warranted. I also think there is a lot to be hopeful about as well.