You have to feel sorry for the Iraqis. There they are under the gun to produce a constitution and have it up and running by October.
It is as though Uncle Sam is standing by, foot tapping and eyes raised to heaven, with outstretched hand, demanding, “Okay, where is it? What’s taking so long? Are you guys fighting again? Play nice, why don’t you?”
So twenty-five million people who have lived under the worst sorts of government for generations are all of a sudden supposed to sit erect, grab their pencils and start acting like gentlemen of the Enlightenment.
Western-style feminists are demanding equal rights and their conservative counterparts held their own counter-demonstration declaring for stricter rules for reining in the women folk. Meanwhile the Sunnis are off sulking because they’re not in charge anymore. The Kurds are pushing for a quasi-federalism — at least that’s what their detractors claim — while everyone suspects the Shi’ites will try to slip the Koran into the works and send the citizenry spinning back to the Middle Ages.
Not that anyone remaining in that country would say so, but oy vey. What a mess.
It would be salutary to remember at this point that our constitution was a very long process. From the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 to the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788 was a long and winding road. In the process, the question of slavery got shelved just so we could be done with it and get on to making a country. Thus our hurry and our fear led us to a bloody and ruinous Civil War seventy three years later. We are still feeling the effects of that “hurry-up” back in the years from the Declaration of Independence to the final states’ ratification. We left out Negroes because we were afraid and we are still paying for our cowardice.
So let’s back off, hey? The Iraqis can learn from our mistakes, including our sense of urgency and our failure of nerve. Three questions to ponder as the Iraqis scrabble to find a workable solution:
1. What would our country have been like had we been willing to duke it out with the South for a no-slavery clause in our Constitution instead of postponing the inevitable for seventy five years?
2. What would our country be like if the 700,000 people who died in the Civil War had lived out the normal span of their lives? Those were our best and bravest, weren’t they?
3. What would it cost us to let the Iraqis have more breathing room if they want it?