Sunday, January 14, 2007

Some good and bad ideas out of Iraq

American politicians, when discussing
Iraq’s “young democracy,” often seem to be describing adolescents who are one week into an eighth-grade civics class. Yet the Iraqis may have something useful to teach their self-proclaimed mentors, as these provisions from the current Iraqi constitution demonstrate:
Article 8: Iraq shall observe the principles of a good neighborliness, adhere to the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states, endeavor to settle disputes by peaceful means, establish relations on the basis of mutual interests and reciprocity, and respect its international obligations.

Article 31: Every citizen has the right to health care.

Article 35: (1)(A): The liberty and dignity of man are safeguarded.

Article 35 (1)(B) No person may be kept in custody or interrogated except in the context of a judicial decision.

Article 35(1)(C): All forms of psychological and physical torture and inhumane treatment shall be prohibited. Any confession coerced by force, threat, or torture shall not be relied on. The victim shall have the right to compensation in accordance with the law for material and moral damages incurred.

Article 35(2): The State guarantees the protection of the individual from intellectual, political and religious coercion.
Many of these provisions would be a solid addition to our own constitution, or at least our vast collection of federal statutes.

: The new plan to introduce Kurdish units into Baghdad, to the tune of 3,600 troops, is appalling and short-sighted. So far the Kurds have managed to remain neutral, or at least aloof, in the midst of the Arab civil war. Although this move is one way to supplement the expanded U.S. presence in Baghdad, it could invite retaliation later and embroil the Kurds in a truly nationalized conflict. Among other problems, the Kurds don’t speak Arabic, don’t know Baghdad and come from a region that is largely rural. And Kurds, who possess vast oil reserves and comprise only 17% of the population, are widely resented and distrusted by Iraqi Arabs.

Meanwhile, the Mahdi army in Sadr City is planning to be less active and less visible during the next few months, just biding its time and concealing its heavy weapons for later use. Not surprisingly, Prime Minister Maliki has announced that the first target of the escalation in Baghdad will be the Sunni insurgency and not the Shi’ite militias like the Mahdi army.

GRAPHIC: Iraqi constitution and flag from UNESCO.

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