THE completion of Iraq's draft constitution, which will be submitted to the people for ratification in October, should have been an occasion for celebration. As most Americans are aware, it has not been. But while much of the criticism has focused on such areas as women's rights, federalism and the role of Islam, such concerns are largely misplaced. In fact, the text strives to balance democratic equality with the Islamic values that are popular with many Iraqi voters, and it sketches a workable if vague compromise on power-sharing between the center and the federal regions.
The major problem is one of who is agreeing, not what they have agreed on. The flawed negotiations of recent weeks, driven at breakneck pace by American pressure to meet an unnecessary deadline, failed to produce an agreement satisfactory to the Sunni politicians in the talks. It appears that the draft will be put before the people with their strong disapproval. The paradoxical result is a looming disaster: a well-conceived constitution that, even if ratified, may well fail to move Iraq toward constitutional government.
August 30, 2005
NYU lawprof Noah Feldman, who was a senior adviser for constitutional law to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, has an important op-ed in the NYT today: