The constitutional crisis in Iraq has the distinct reek of Bush — which smells slightly different on everybody but cannot be mistaken for anything but the product of its own unique mix of ingredients.
It’s not something that effectively masks the stench of desperation pervading recent news of the Iraqi constitution writing. Insisting a constitution might be turned in a day before deadline, although the minor issue of federalism hadn’t quite been settled, well, that’s about as obvious a stench as exists, something like swamp gas and old eggs, and nothing hides it.
Some of the recipe:
The United States has faith-based initiatives, bans on flag burning and fervent presidential support for people who find virgin birth more plausible than evolution. Iraq is writing a constitution codifying a mishmash of Islamic beliefs into the rule of law. What we’ll accomplish for women by reversing Roe vs. Wade, Iraq will surpass by instituting Shariah.
The Sunnis, all of 20 percent of the nation, may boycott this political process. Shiites don’t need them any more than the conservatives here need liberals, even though liberals still make up about half the country.
And while the White House had the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers help select a nominee for the Supreme Court, among the most recent of its many blurrings of business and governing, Iraq’s constitution writers had early success pinning down distribution of oil profits. The agreement’s fallen through, but for a while it was something.
A suggestion for constitution writers who find themselves stuck on issues of federalism, power sharing, women’s rights and the role of religion in your society: You may want to not waste time divvying up oil money instead. You’re not going to buy off insurgents, secessionists or even the odd whiner by promising a good return from oil sales through the nation’s charter — especially when the recipients think it all belongs to them anyway. When you lack such stuff as freedom of speech and religion and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, though, one must find something to throw in the text; oil money’s as good as anything, and at least ensures the document gets read.
That’s all over now, of course. The constitution writers missed deadline, not beat it by a day, and seek another week to iron it all out. Civil war beckons from the unrest of Sunnis and Kurds and the insurgents are doing their best to bring it about with threats of violence in the mosques. In Baghdad the politicians are slamming doors and hunkering down, and everyone’s sniffing the air and grimly certain what they’re sensing.
It’s the smell of blood. The remaining ingredient in Bush’s recipe. The trick is to bottle it up again.