Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Ivan Eland:Will Iraq’s Constitution Be Irrelevant?

Will Iraq’s Constitution Be Irrelevant?

August 22, 2005
by Ivan Eland

To the Bush administration’s relief, world media attention has focused intensely on whether the fractious Iraqis will meet the now extended deadline to create a constitution that can be put to a national referendum on October 15. As in U.S. election campaigns, the media are focusing on the short-term “horse race”—that is, how the process is going—rather than on the long-term ramifications of the issues decided.

The media’s focus on whether the Bush administration’s forced timetable is met, rather than on the quality and likely impact of the resulting constitution, serves the administration’s purpose of creating the illusion of progress. Thus, victory can be declared and American troops can begin coming home. After all, the congressional elections are next year, and by then, the Democrats will be feisty over a war that is getting ever less popular here at home.

And an illusion it is. Earlier this summer, Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, made the astounding admission that the war in Iraq was lost militarily when he said: “[T]his insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations.” He then pointed his finger to the political process for a solution.

Yet, artificially forcing the Iraqis to reach a definitive agreement on fundamental issues—such as autonomy for Kurdish and Shi’ite areas (federalism), the role of Islam and women in Iraqi society, and the fate of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk—will likely make any Iraqi Constitution as irrelevant as those of neighboring Arab states. On paper, many Arab states have liberal constitutions, but they do not have the political culture or institutions to sustain an open political system. If Iraq doesn’t descend into civil war quickly, perhaps the administration can pull off this façade and exit Iraq with some dignity.

Whether Iraq gets a freshly minted constitution or not, however, it is regrettably most likely on a trajectory toward all-out civil war. Although the issue of federalism has been on the table in Iraqi constitutional deliberations, it has long been decided on the ground. The United States never seized the abundant weapons possessed by Iraq’s numerous ethnic militias, who are ready to go after each other over all of the issues being debated by the Iraqi constitutional commission. The question is whether U.S. troops will be caught in the middle of that internecine conflict or whether President Bush will tacitly admit his mistake and save them from further futile and dangerous duty amid the escalating mayhem.

Although the president’s intentions are currently murky, the upcoming congressional elections, pressure from his own military to exit Iraq to avoid breaking the force, and his strange rush to adhere to an unrealistic timetable to build a viable Iraqi constitution and government seem to indicate that he may be headed down the latter path. The desire to keep new military bases near the Persian Gulf oilfields may have been tempered by the realization that continued chaos in their host country dramatically lessens their viability.

Politicians rarely admit making a blunder, and this president’s nature makes him even less likely to do so than most. Although it will be tough for some Democratic activists to swallow, allowing the administration to save face, declare victory, and begin leaving the Iraqi quagmire would be the best situation for all concerned—especially for the American soldiers who are being sacrificed in the unnecessary and pointless invasion and occupation of this sovereign country. Believe it or not, the best alternative now is admitting defeat, without publicly acknowledging it, and withdrawing American troops from Iraq before the civil war begins.

History will be the ultimate judge of President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Perhaps it will be seen in the same light as Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, although with less looting and brutality by the invading force and more by the invaded country’s own citizens. For now, let’s allow the president to save face and begin bringing to a close this sorry chapter in the history of the great American republic.


Ivan Eland is a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, Director of the Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty, and author of the books The Empire Has No Clothes, and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news