US troops won't leave Iraq until the war is won, George W. Bush has said, but the notion that the US is "winning" in Iraq has become a joke, especially after last week's Constitution fiasco.
If the draft Iraqi Constitution released to reporters on Monday, August 22, is representative of the Bush administration's best efforts at "pursuing the political process" in Iraq, then those troops should have come home a long time ago.
Part One, Article Two of the draft Constitution says: "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation...No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." It's a prescription for religious courts and Sharia law, similar to the government of Iran or the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan. Notably, the current US ambassador/viceroy in Iraq is Zalmay Khalilzad, who helped write the new Constitution of Afghanistan, which provides for religious courts that are only slightly less conservative than the Taliban's.
The Bushies can't claim--as they'll try to do--that they didn't have a hand in approving this. Khalilzad was involved in every stage of the process and pushed hard for all sides to agree on a draft constitution by the deadline of August 15 ... or at least soon enough after the deadline so the Iraqi people will have something to vote on by October 15th. In fact, many members of the constitution committee complained that the Americans were pushing them too hard to come to an agreement and were almost more interested in getting a finished draft than the Iraqis were.
The provision for religious law is bad enough, but here's what Part Three, The Judiciary, Article 90 says: "The Supreme Court will be made up of a number of judges and experts in Sharia (Islamic law) and law, whose number and manner of selection will be defined by a law that should be passed by two-thirds of the Parliament members."
So much for separation of church and state. It's surreal for George W. Bush to whine about how fundamentalist religious terrorists (represented by al-Zarqawi) are trying to take over Iraq and use it as a springboard to launch an Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East, while Shiite religious fundamentalists are being handed Iraq on a silver platter by Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the stupid neocons at the Pentagon.
George Bush's version of the Domino Theory might appeal to unthinking Republicans, or unthinking people in general, but the facts tell another story. Part Five of the draft Constitution is an entire chapter devoted to the "Authorities of the Regions." It says that a simple majority of voters in any two or more provinces can form a region, which can then write its own constitution, which will overrule the federal constitution in any matter where the two constitutions conflict, as long as it doesn't pertain to federal powers (like foreign policy, for example). The region can set up its own government, courts, and security forces. This section doesn't just cover the Kurdish autonomous region; it applies to any region, including the Shiite area in the south, a collection of 9 of Iraq's provinces (about half the country) that the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) wants to organize into an autonomous region.
Call this a prescription for civil war, if you like. It certainly encourages secession. Part Three of the draft Constitution takes this a step further with wording that sets up a "Council of Union" for the representatives of the regions to "examine bills related to regions and provinces." The organization and powers of the Council of Union are left deliberately vague. This raises important questions about the balance of power between the federal government and the regions. Will the Council of Union operate in opposition to the Parliament? Who will win if they pass rules that conflict? What if the regions become stronger than the federal government? Will the Council of Union eventually supercede the Parliament, just as the regions can overrule the federal government?
One of the worst problems of this draft Constitution is that so many clauses are vague and open-ended. There's far too much wording like the phrase "will be defined by a law that should be passed by two-thirds of the Parliament members" contained in the Supreme Court section. It's clearly not a finished document at all; it's a vague wish-list, pushed through in a hurry so that the Bush administration can pretend they're getting things done in Iraq.
What they're really getting done in Iraq is nightmarish. George W. Bush needs to admit that he has deposed a dictator and replaced him with a fundamentalist Islamic government closely aligned to Iran, and that this has been done against the express wishes of the majority of Iraq's population.
Fortunately, those folks are beginning to speak out against the draft Constitution: Sunnis, secularists, women's groups, and even a key segment of the Shiite population. The urban, economically downtrodden supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr turned out in the streets of several cities last Friday to protest against the Constitution and the current Iraqi interim government shepherded into power by the US.
It's long past time for US troops to come home.