Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thoughts on the Iraqi Constitution

Sometimes, (as a history buff), I assume that my friends and others know their history and have the same perspective that I do. Sometimes, we know these things and fail to put them in their proper perspective.

As many of you, (no doubt, figuratively), have heard me say; all things lose their meaning when taken out of context. I do not mean words or sentences taken from a statement, paragraph, chapter or book. I mean that, literally, 'everything' loses its meaning when taken as a singular event.

I am going to attempt to 'not' make assumptions about historical matters and make an effort to provide context for events in the news.

As my first effort I will point out that the US Constitution did not get created overnight and some of the things we thing of as "normal", (e.g. a bicameral legislature), are actually compromises that required years to negotiate.

Now lets look at what Professor John Eastman had to say about the Iraqi Constitution.

From a transcript of the "Hugh Hewitt" radio program:

HH: And so they convene in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, and there are deep divisions. Identify some of those divisions for people.

JE: Well, the big divisions, often unspoken, but sometimes explicitly addressed, was slavery. By then, most of the northern states had outlawed slavery. Most of the southern states not only kept it, but thought it was critically important to their economy. And so, the balance of power in the new central government was going to have to be pretty even, so as to not interfere with this issue, because they couldn't grapple with that at the same time they were trying to establish a new union. They had just defeated the British, but the British were still salivating over coming back in and taking over again. The second thing is big states versus small states. If you give power in the central government's legislature based on population, New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania run everything, to the detriment of New Jersey and Maryland and Rhode Island and what have you. If you give it equal votes to each state, then the small states are going to have a much greater role in the national government than their population would warrant. And this was an intractable problem, finally settled by the compromise that gave population-based control to the House of Representatives, and state-based control to the U.S. Senate.


HH: Now given that background, are you surprised that it is so difficult in the birthing in Baghdad?

JE: No. I'm not at all surprised. In fact, if anything, you add to it the deep religious animosities, and cultural animosities that exist between the peoples there, that we didn't have. We were a largely homogeneous population in 1787, in a way that Iraq is not. The fact that they have gone as far as they have, as quickly as they have, is the real story here.

Read the whole thing and I think you will be more optimistic about the future of democracy for Iraq.

Remember that democracy isn't an event, it is a process.


Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

>>Remember that democracy isn't an event, it is a process.<<

You mean we can't just install Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Iraq and call it "democracy" like President Clinton and her husband did in Haiti?

Warren said...

Listen cousin, they had good intensions but you have to remember that Aristide started out as a priest before he became a cheap gangster.

He has a lot of whoremon... Uhh err, work to do before he can claim the statesmanship of a democracy promoter like BJ Clinton!

drummaster2001 said...


you know i too like American history.

slavery was in my opinion the biggest issue in 1787. that's why they put in the 3/5s compromise and let the slave trade stand untouched by the govt until 1808 (of course it went longer). this was a very fickle issue and something Jefferson called 'a necessary evil'. the fact was, no one really wanted to touch it because it was that 'make or break' issue.

as for the legislative branch, this was also a problem. they were able to resolve it however, their method of election was very flawed. they finally changed it in 1913 to deal with corruption.

the Constitution wasn't created overnight. there were several meetings held between 1785-87 that failed to present representatives from every state. the Philadelphia convention met and finished the initial parts all in the summer of 1787. some people also forget that the Philly convention was called to amend the Articles Of Confederation, not rewrite the law.

the hardest part for the Federalists was ratification. the writers had to promise a Bill Of Rights, which it delivered it 1791, several years after it was ratified, before they obtained all 13 states.

i fully agree with you that democracy is a process, hence why we have amendments and the lawmaking process.

i also agree with you when you say there are even more dilemnas in Iraq because of religious factors. i think they need more time and not to be under such strict global critique. America was under the microscope after 1791, but really only to see if democracy would work. America was the pioneer and other nations did want America to fail, especially Britain.