Robert A. George: Pullout Deadline, No. Constitution Deadline, Yes?


According to today’s Times, despite previous announced extension, Iraqis are promising to stick to a US-desired Aug. 15 deadline for a working constitution.
“Among the most divisive issues are the rights of women, the role of Islam and the scope and reach of Kurdish self-rule.” Oh, is that all?
It was a good idea for Americans to stick to the promised deadlines when it came to the January elections: There, American policy political aims and administration promises — and and the symbolism of new Iraqi freedom — needed to overlap. However, when it comes to a governing document, putting an artificial date is asking for trouble — especially considering this is the process supposed to demonstrate to both Iraqis, the Middle East and the entire world that it is Iraqis and not Americans that are controlling the process. It would be especially terrible if women rights end up getting pushed to the side — Kurds, one way or another, can take care of themeselves — in the name of expediency.
Keep in mind, Americans didn’t get their governing documents right at first. The Articles of Confederation were an initial stab, which fell apart ten years later. (Notably, the Articles were drafted with the War for Independence still going on.)
The post-war Constitution of the United States of America worked better — yet also left some of the “most divisive issues” on the table, most notably the status of black Africans/slaves in the colonies. Everyone knows how the inability to resolve that particular issue turned out 70-some years later. Can Iraq really afford to risk such a “resolution” just to get a “working first draft” on the table — pushed by an outside power? Does anyone think such an awkward compromise could peacefully last even a dozen years?
Robert George