No Constitution Would be Better than an Islamic State

"Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish negotiators all said there was accord on a bigger role for Islamic law than Iraq had before. 
    But a secular Kurdish politician said Kurds opposed making Islam "the" — not "a" — main source of law and
subjecting all legislation to a religious test.
    "We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi’ites," he said. "It’s shocking.
It doesn’t fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state. … I can’t believe that’s what the Americans really want or what the American people want."
    U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment. "  The Washington Times

Are we really going to accept a measure of responsibility for a constitution like that hinted at in the WashTimes story above? 

Let us not kid ourselves, in a state which specifies in the constitution that laws must not "contradict" Islam, there will be profound change in the status of women, the status of non-Islamic religious groups, the status of what Americans think of as basic human rights.  Iraq would be a profoundly different place under such a legal regime.

Why?  It is because Islam is a religion which takes its form with regard to law on the basis of the collective opinion of Islamic jurists, not on any kind of fixed document like our "Bill of Rights."  The majoritarian balance of power in the new Iraq will evidently be that of the "Twelver" or "Imami" Shia.  This is the form of Shiism shared by both Iraqi Shia and Iranian Shia.  "Twelver" Shiism functions on the basis of the opinions of certified wise men called Ayatollahs.  There is great collegiality among these men whether they are in Iraq or Iran.  The legal opinions of senior clerics either on the bench or standing "behind" it in Iraq will be deeply affected by the legal opinions of their colleagues in Qom and other places in Iran.  That consensus now includes severe restrictions on the activities and status of women and minorities.

It is reported that Khalilzad, our ambassador in Baghdad, has been willing to compromise the rights of Iraqis, in his zeal to "close" on a draft constitution by tomorrow (22 August, 2005).  If this is true, then we need an ambassadorwho understands what America is about and for what purpose our soldiers have suffered death and mutilation.

I have known Khalilzad for a long time.  He was an advocate of the later withdrawn "Defense Policy Guidance" of the early ’90s which advocated the pre-emptive use of American power around the world to "do good." 

To accept a regressive constitution which legitimizes discrimation before the law would hardly be "doing good."

Democracy?  If a constutution is adopted which makes the coming of an Islamic state in Iraq inevitable, then there will be no more "purple thumb" days unless they are approved by the "fatwa" of clerical consensus.

Pat Lang

This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to No Constitution Would be Better than an Islamic State

  1. Michael Singer says:

    If you are right, Bush loses all political and moral underpinnings for making war. If you are right there can no longer be a justification for the sacrifice of American lives. Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, will go crazy. Further the Sunni and Kurds, if they are not left alone, will rebel against a twelver government and the rebellion will be backed by a female undeground across the country. There are many reports of Shia militia type governments already functioning in Basra and other cities while the reps in Bagdhad fight over a constitution that has no meaning and of course the US media isn’t covering this story because they can’t get out of Bagdhad and find it without US escorts. In the meantime Bush is now committing to 4 more years in Iraq because were the US to pull out before his term is up, the lid would blow and the sham of “democracy in Iraq” would be exposed and that would not be good for the Republicans in 2008. It’s so cynical. Michael Singer

  2. J says:

    you hit the nail on the head:” Islam is a religion which takes its form with regard to law on the basis of the collective opinion of Islamic jurists, not on any kind of fixed document like our “Bill of Rights.””……”then there will be no more “purple thumb” days unless they are approved by the “fatwa” of clerical consensus.”
    Bush-Cheney just shafted the pooch regarding Iraq and the larger Middle East, and most Aemricans are too asleep to even realize it, ‘yet’ that is. When Americans ‘hopefully’ wake up from their slumber and see what George-Dick potentates have done, will they grit their teeth or will they go back to sleep?

  3. Some Guy says:

    This is truly sad and it makes complete the sham the rotating rationales for this war have been. No WMD, no real connection to international terrorists until after our invasion, and now a good chance of a non-democratic Islamic state.
    Reuel Marc Gerecht this morning on Meet the Press observed that, “If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s [meaning pre-19th Amendment in context], I think we’d all be thrilled. I mean, women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they’re there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.”
    Expect more of this rationalizing, which runs completely counter to Bush’s own lofty themes. Setting aside Gerecht’s shocking ignorance of women’s roles in advancing the culture of participatory democracy in the U.S. BEFORE the 19th Amendment, it is not credible to treat the institutionalization of honor killings, home imprisonment, battery, loss of property rights, and much more of one-half of all Iraqis as a “democratic” success in any way. It is a cop out that replaces the tyranny of one man with a tyranny of men.
    Why not judge and Islamic state in Iraq by 17th century standards while we are at it? Would it look even better? Exactly how “backward” should we assume Iraqi’s are such that we can flatter ourselves? Paricularly given the status women had achieved within Iraq not so long ago.
    The colonial mentality is appalling and I would put money on hearing similar sounds emanating from Scott McClellan in the coming days. Exactly the kind of racism Bush tried to pin on liberals for years now.

  4. ismoot says:

    Some Guy
    I must say that I completely agree with you. The willingness on the part of Gerecht to sacrifice the rights of women (and other minorities, including modernist Muslims) is repulsive. His agenda, like that of many of his Jacobin friends, has been to install the Twelver Shia in Iraq as a ruling majority no matter what the cost to real human beings.
    They have decided for some bizarre reason that mainstream Sunni Muslims are an enemy to be dispossessed everywhere.
    Where there are no Shia, they tend to favor other dissidents. In Egypt they regard the offshoots of the Society of the Moslem Brothers (MB) with benevolence and seek to make us believe that an MB government would be a government of “moderation.”
    Why? It is because they imagine that the beneficiaries of their experiments in historical engineereing will make manageable “allies” in the region. pl

  5. sbj says:

    Gerect’s fellow PNACer Khalilizad is likewise attempting to cement a deal on this so-called constitution regardless of the real-time effects on actual human beings.
    Would that we had an intrepid reporter in the White House press corps who could ask the president to explain how facilitating a constitution and a government that denies basic equal rights to all it’s women is commensurate with his claims of “spreading democracy”; how millions of those Iraqis waving purple fingers are actually going to lose basic human freedoms thanks to the Jacobins’ lunatic agenda.
    On a related note, do you really think Cheney and the PNACers envision the leaders of a Shiite Iraqi government as potential allies?

  6. sbj says:

    My previous comment seems a bit disorganized. Not only do I repeat what’s already patently stated in your original post, I hit “post” rather than “preview” before I had the chance to clean up the syntax.

  7. ismoot says:

    I think they certainly did think of the Shia that way. I have heard it personally from any number of them. You could still hear it in what Gerecht said today on “Meet the Press.” pl

  8. Curious says:

    I truely don’t understand how Bush thinks. Does he think he can get away with this constitution after he was hyping about women’s right, school for girls, no more torture etc etc…?

  9. Dale R. Davis says:

    If you take a realist point of view the Shi’a are our allies in the war against radical Sunni pan-Islamism. (Let’s remember who attacked NYC and Washington and why.) The Shi’a are not our friends but we share a common enemy in Wahabi Islam. Shi’a Islam, especially that branch captured by Iranian nationalism raises a whole new set of challenges to the US. However, I would point out, again, that those challenges are not existential in nature – but that is a different topic. What is incongrous here is that the ideologues of neo-conservatism would take such a realist stance. What happened to their battle cry of “Democracy is the Answer”? It doesn’t fit. I think what we are seeing is sheer desperation in the face of the growing truth that their theories have proven absolutely invalid under the harsh light of reality. They are so eager to latch on to any remnant of hope that their ideas will somehow be vindicated in Iraq that they are now redefining Shi’a dominated Islamic government as “democratic.”

  10. ismoot says:

    I agree with the part about desperation but they have looked to the Shia for solutions from the beginning.

  11. ismoot says:

    The cognitive dissonance in this doesn’t bother him at all. He wants what he wants. As Dale says, desperation has set in and he will do what he can to cope. pl

  12. sbj says:

    I guess my problem with the question about the Jacobins’ view of the Shia as allies against a Sunni threat centers around the idea that if this is so, how are Mssrs. Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz and Ledeen going to be able to launch an attack against Iran? Are they so deluded that they still think Arab Shia won’t fret over Persian Shia’s country being bombed? Or have they perhaps abandoned, (for the moment), the idea of attacking Iran at all.

  13. ismoot says:

    The more vulnerable of the Jacobins are in the process of being “mugged by reality.” If you hold high office it is increasingly impossible to ignore the intentions of Iran in Iraq as well as their persistence in pursuing a nuclear program that can have but one purpose. Therefore, you see more and more office holders becoming at least ambiguous about Iran.
    The academics, like Gerecht, have the luxury of being able to cling to their previous theories. They are not responsible for policy and real world consequences. Besides, to abandon their “political philosophy” inspired dreams would expose them to ridicule by people like me, and probably you, pl

  14. curious says:

    If you take a realist point of view the Shi’a are our allies in the war against radical Sunni pan-Islamism. (Let’s remember who attacked NYC and Washington and why.)
    Posted by: Dale R. Davis | 22 August 2005
    I seriously doubt there is such thing as Sunni pan-Islamism in term of real political force.
    That’s like saying, pan catholic-christianism, (let’s remember the IRA and Argentinian rightwings, etc)
    1. Sunni doesn’t have centralized interpretative structure. It behaves more like protestants as political forces. (If we go along the line of simplistic religio-politics analysis.)
    2. I find the conflation of religion/Islam and guerilla politics in analysis has gone too far. It’s plain tunnel visioning. It’s as if that’s all people can think of, instead of wider local cultural variables and mechanism.
    These crude thinking/tunnel vision manifested in clumsy policy. It pisses off ever more people. And ultimately , we are going to fight religion with 700 million people in it.
    Be carefull labelling who our enemies are, cause we might get our wish. If we keep doing rough shot rethorics against a religion, we truely going to war with it. There aren’t that many social structure that has succesfully won conflict against religion, and as far as I know, not a nation state.
    It’s bad enough the mainstream media is trumpetting simplistic view outline by Bushies, but do we have to go along and follow the destructive view?
    What we are dealing is a franchise of terrorists group grown out of the afghanistan/soviet war. There is no easy way to label it. Just like there is no easy way charting mafia/gang organisation structure. Imagine a simplistic view that all italian/ black/ latino/ asian/ bla bla are member of pan-ethnic~whatchamcalit~ism.
    Wrong label won’t solve problem, in fact it contributes to clumsy bureaucratic policy/thinking that will piss off ever more people in the world.
    If we keep doing what we are doing, we will one day wonder why do 700 million sunnis hate us. Then it will be too late.

  15. angela says:

    George Bush has a history of failure, he is used to cognitive dissonance. Again and again family friend bailed him out, they finally made him a front man for a consortium that got a city to condemn land and build a baseball park. George Bush felt no concern when it was later ruled that the people who had their property seized were payed a fraction of the lands value.
    In the words of Reagan this guy is a “welfare queen” who is totally convinced that he did the Horatio Alger thing. He chose colleagues of similar mettle, Cheney and Rumsfeld are rich because they sold their governmental contacts to the private sector. Confusing this process with “capitalism” has been one of the big fiascos of our efforts, rather than use money, usually Iraqi money to try and rebuild an economy using Iraqis these people believed that American’s needed the jobs more and since we could do the work at ten times the price it was the kind of “good deal” (remember their focus) they could understand.
    At the same time a person like Bush can be sincerely concerned and even outraged that a working mother might collect medicaid. This is fairly typical, but unlike the others in his administration he had to rationalize a life of continual failure as success.
    He is thus uniquely qualified for the situation in Iraq.

  16. ismoot says:

    Read “Bush on the Couch? pl

  17. ismoot says:

    This comment of yours is really directed to Dale but you have so many points that I thought to say something about at least one.
    Nobody is conducting a war against Sunni Islam. Nor are we conducting a war against Shia Islam.
    What we have done is go to war against the Jihadi movement and network. Now, you know very well that the percentage of Jihadis in the world, whether members of groups loosely linked to AQ or actual operatives of the Iranian government, are a small, small percentage of Muslims world-wide.
    Americans before 9/11 were absolutely indifferent to anything about the Islamic World and Islam except that they knew there was a lot of oil in the Gulf and that a lot of Arabs are hostile to Israel, a country that most Americans have a sentimental attachment to.
    The trauma that 9/11 inflicted on Americans was deep and will last a long time. It is natural and just that Americans should identify the Jihadi movement as an enemy that attecked and wounded them. The same thing can be said of American efforts to rid the world of Jihadism as a threat.
    What has confused the issue for many people is that the US Government did not limit its efforts to the anti-Jihadi struggle but instead foolishly intervened in the affairs of the ethnic and religious jigsaw puzzle that is Iraq.
    Even President Bush makes it clear that he is not fighting a war against Islam. The great majority of Americans do not believe they are fighting a war against Islam.
    Why do you think we are? pl

  18. searp says:

    Isn’t the larger point that an ephemeral triumph of one faction (Shii?) guarantees a permanent civil war in Iraq? The political problems posed by three incompatible worldviews (Kurd, Sunni, Shia) may result in a permanent civil war anyway. For our public it won’t be the nature of the constitution, nobody will read it anyway. It will be the unending war that results that will clarify the mess.

  19. ismoot says:

    These are Arabs. They are intensely political and “into” language. They will read it but in the end it won’t matter if one of the major groups does not accept it. pl

  20. sbj says:

    Your point differentiating the academic (Gerecht) with the actively engaged (Cheney, Ledeen, Perle, et. al.) is well taken.
    I confess I tend to think of all these “Jacobins” as different faces of the same hydra-headed beast.

  21. Diana says:

    “They have decided for some “bizarre reason that mainstream Sunni Muslims are an enemy to be dispossessed everywhere.”
    Do you think that this might have something to do with Israel, and that this is a continuation of the Ben-Gurion policy of normalizing Israel’s position in the ME by cultivating relationships with non-Sunni Muslims? There was actually a name for this policy but I forget it. It seems to me that the entire neocon crowd has taken this policy to Iraq, no matter how ruinous the consequences. I remember reading something by Jon Podhoretz that essentially spat out a spiteful “so what if the Sunnis didn’t vote”, and which compared the latter group to white S. Africans, a once-privileged group that had lost illegitimate privilege.

  22. Diana says:

    OK, did a little quickie research and it was called “the periphery doctrine” (you can google this) and it advocated cultivation of relationships with non-Arab states, but one could make the case that this is an adaptation of it. The core idea is that the Sunni Arab domination of politics should be destroyed.

Comments are closed.