Jeff Hunter and Camp David

"Dissecting Iraq’s Constitution"

Ltr to Washington Post, Tuesday, August 9, 2005; Page A16

An Aug. 2 editorial suggested that the committee drafting Iraq’s constitution should put forth a partial constitution if necessary to avoid a draft that enshrines "Islamic law" or further balkanizes the country. But those two issues are the heart of any constitution. What else is a government but a body to set and enforce laws, to set national policies over resources and their resulting revenue, and to have the authority to do so within a prescribed territory?

If the new Iraqi constitution covers none of this, it will do little more than permit the issuance of a nice news release that the coalition can point to as some sort of "mission accomplished." Then coalition members can declare victory and leave.

I knew that self-delusion was rampant in the administration, but I did not think it was contagious.


Lee’s Summit, Mo."

I don’t know Mr. Hunter but he comes across as a typical heartland American who know BS when he sees it. 

It is a favorite "technique" in the diplomatic "community" to conduct difficult negotiations by dealing with all the readily soluble issues early in the process on the principle that negotiating momentum and good will generated by the process will enable the brokering parties to "soft soap" the disputants into accepting compromises to deal with the hard issues as deadlines (often artificially injectedby the brokers) approach.  This rarely works for the obvious reason that the really hard "stuff" usually involves issues on which the perceived survival and well being of the disputants are involved.

Nevertheless, the State Department loves this methodology.  Whether they "learn" it in international relations or political science classes or at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, I know not.  This method seems to be as popular among political appointess as among career FSOs.  Group think?  Similar "educational" backgrounds?  Who knows?  In any case they love this process and seem to almost invariably try it, unimpressed by previous failure.

The Camp David 2 negotiations were a good example of this.  There were so many ridiculous things done at CD2 that it is difficult to concentrate on just one, but…  Arafat and Barak were brought together there to finalize an overall agreement.  In the aftermath of failure, the architects of that failure all claim that nothing so grand was intended.  Rubbish!  Anyone who can do research in the internet can see through that in half an hour.  Unpleasant thing, the internet.

The process that led to CD2 was said to have resolved nearly all the outstanding issues that stood as obstacles to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  There were only a few things left that would be resolved by the "momentum" of negotiation in an environment in which the parties were isolated in the presence of the president of the United States.  The issues?  Essentially, they came down to mutual recognition of each other’s permanent sovereignty between mutually recognized borders and an agreement on the status of Jerusalem.  That’s All!!!

Guess What?  It did not work for a wide variety of reasons but at the bottom of the sorry tale of failure was the idea that leaving the tough issues to be settled at the end of ANY KIND of governmental or negotiating process was the way to "get by."  What followed?  Disaster followed.  The Second Intifada followed and is still with us.  Instead of the era of relative good feelngs that accompanied the Barak government, we saw the misery, death and bloodshed of insurgent warfare.

IRAQ  Here we have another dispute, this time over the apportionment of the goods and future of the state called Iraq.  Once again we are told that most issues have been settled.  Only a few remain:

-The role of Islam in the State.

-Federalism among a people who have little experience with or liking for devolution of power.

-The rights of women and  other "minorities."

-The share of power to be had by the Sunni Muslim and Kurdish communities.

A few "minor" points?  What will happen if the Shia Iraqis enact a constitution which does not deal with these problems, and does not achieve a "national" consensus?

1-The majority will resolve these qustions by amandment of the constitution according to their own interests or tastes in the years to come.

2-Civil war will continue with large parts of the country remaining essentially outside the daily reach of central government authority.

The adminstration?  I would thionk that they are getting lots of help from Foggy Bottom.!

Patrick Lang

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4 Responses to Jeff Hunter and Camp David

  1. wtofd says:

    Thank you. Right on target. Nothing to add except that CD2 also failed to address the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. I’ll save comment on the stupidity of that and insisting Abu Dis is Jerusalem for another blog.

  2. ismoot says:

    I simply forgot to include the RoR in my list of the hard things they avoided dealing with until it was too late.
    Abu Dis? I sat and listened to Arafat say at lunch that Abu Dis worked for him. It was juridically within Turkish, British and Jordanian Jerusalem and Arafat was willing to accept it to keep things moving. So was Mahmoud Abbas who discussed it positively with Yossi Beilin.
    Not good enough for Sharon though. He has run the wall right through the middle of Abu Dis to make sure it is useless to the Palestinians. pl

  3. wtofd says:

    Wait? Arafat wasn’t insisting on E. Jerusalem starting at ha Nevi’im St. or whatever the Arabic name is for the road that runs directly into Damascus Gate?

  4. ismoot says:

    As I said, I sat at lunch with him in al-Bira and heard him say that Abu Dis sounded reasonable to him. There were a couple of reporters in the room. They left and we got on with lunch. After lunch his “boys” got hold of the leader of the group I was with and persuaded him to hold a press conference in front of the building to explain the “El jefe,” had merely been speculating aloud.
    He was quite serious in a “rambling” kind of way. pl

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