The Facts: The Iraq Constitution

First, the document that's key to this whole discussion: The proposed Iraqi constitution. (PDF version here.) Wikipedia defines the proposed constitution this way. Iraqis will go to the polls to vote on the constitution this Saturday, Oct. 15.

For purposes of comparison, take a read of the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period, and then check out the informative analysis and commentary on the Iraq constitution by the Carnegie Endowment's Nathan Brown, a Middle East expert. (The Post hosted a Live Online discussion with Brown earlier today. More of Brown's articles on Iraq and other Middle East policy issues can be found here.)

Of course, sectarian disagreements over the constitution have been a big deal, so Reuters provides this breakdown of where the different ethnic groups stand. An academic paper by Rutgers professor Eric Davis on using the lessons of the past to help Iraq move forward. The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index tracks reconstruction progress, which has a significant influence on Iraq's political situation.

The Iraq page on the State Department's USinfo Web site offers the U.S. government's perspective. Also from the government, but a somewhat more independent part of it, comes the Congressional Research Service report Iraq: Elections, Government, and Constitution. The New York Times offers a slightly outdated but straightforward Q&A about the constitutional drafting process, while the Post offers an up-to-date, very basic Q&A on the proposed constitution.

Keep up with the latest Iraq news from the Associated Press and the Washington Post throughout the week's Debate.

By Emily Messner |  October 12, 2005; 3:39 PM ET  | Category:  Facts
Previous: No Guarantees on Miers's Confirmation | Next: This Week's Debate: Iraq's Constitution

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I am so glad that The Debate is taking on this important issue with (her? their?) well-informed and unbiased style.

First, I do think that some attention must be called to the media's coverage of which factions support the constitution (or the compromises) than the actual compromises themselves and what they mean. Here (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/12/AR2005101200559.html) is the Post's reporting of the recent compromises and the various groups who have now come out in favor of the draft constitution - but the first mention of what one of the compromises is is after the (online) jump. What does anyone else think of this? (I could go on more, debating the position of secular women in Iraq, "Sunnis on the Street" or what have you, but I will leave that to my fellow debaters to take up, in my place)

Thanks to the Post for letting us have this forum!

Lizzie Kaplan
Vienna, VA

Posted by: Lizzie Kaplan | October 12, 2005 08:59 PM

It's nice to see something about the Iraqi Constitution, but on the other hand, who cares?

What I meam when I ask this is that Montesquieu wrote (to paraphrase)"MANY things govern men: climat, religion, maxims of government, laws, historical memories," and John Dewey talked about how Democracy flows from every aspect of public life. Are we asking questions about Iraq on THESE lines?

The Iraqi Constitution is a piece of paper. Iraqi politics, however, is organic. It cannot be contained by rules alon because each change with each passing day causes politics to break out of its former boundaries and move in some different direction. However slight this might happen on a day-to day basis, it does happen, and this does have implications.

What's the property situation in Iraq? How strong is identification with the Iraqi state? Do the three ethnic groups share any common challenges, any common threats (besides the US?) What, if any, positive historical memories do the Iraqis have about the way things have been? How can leadership be incentivized through cooperation as opposed to obstruction once the new constitution is passed, if it is passed? What parts of daily life will fragment the day-to-day interest of everyday Iraqi's so that they will be less likely to care about mass movements and more likely to look out for their own interests more directly?

If THESE types of questions are not on the table, then the Iraqi constitution will simply be a pawn in the current political practices of Iraq, and not a binding agreement that ties the groups together.

According to legend, law came to Rome through treaties between Aeneas and those he conquered, they were promises between conquered and conqueror. What can these Iraqi groups prommise? What promises can they be made to keep?

Posted by: Steven | October 13, 2005 12:00 AM

I hope the Iraq Constitution works; the Iraqis really deserve tranquillity. What worries me is that under Saddam, HE was in charge of criminality while now there are many. I'm not sure this is the type of "free initiative" that can cement the democratic process. Perhaps O'Reilly, El Rushbo and Sean Hannity could be sent there as post-election monitors.

Posted by: Alex J. Coombs | October 13, 2005 09:52 PM

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