Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Iraq's Constitution Flap--Yes, There IS a Good Side

I am personally surprised and deeply disappointed in the failure to achieve a sectarian consensus on the proposed Iraqi Constitution.

The list of negative repurcussions is long and potentially dangerous and destablizing for the future of a unified and peaceful Iraq. I have spelled out some of those issues in my previous posts, The Proposed Draft of the Iraqi Constitution (as of 8/25/05) and Iraqi Sunnis Debate Whether To Wield Constitutonal "Nuclear Option."

ON THE OTHER HAND.......There are some very good things shining through in the midst of this otherwise very bad thing.

Most importantly, there is now a national consensus that the future of Iraq is enexorably tied to participatory democracy. It is recognized by all major groups, Kurd, Shi'ite and Sunni, that political power no longer resides in terrorism, armed militias or strident ideological intransigence.

This new reality is demonstrated by the realization of the Sunni political and religious leadership that the only effective way to express their opposition to the proposed constitution is to GO OUT AND VOTE!

Yes. Really! For sure! Sunnis right and left are urging their people to go out an register to vote! What a contrast from just nine months ago when the Sunni mantra was "Boycott....Boycott...Boycott." That futile attempt to discredit the national elections backfired miserably, leaving the Sunnis with minimal representation in the resulting interim national assembly.

If, however, they can rally three of the four majority Sunni provinces to reject the proposed constitution, they will have achieved a tremendous victory on two fronts--One for themselves and Two, for democracy.

For themselves, they will have forced a return to a new interim government in which they will be able to elect a more representative Sunni presence. This will give this second interim government far more legitimacy than the current one.

For democracy, they will have demonstrated that, even as a "not-very-respected" minority "party," they can still wield a more legitimate influence over national affairs with the ballot than they could ever hope to gain through bullets.

While the insurgents and terrorist cells in Iraq clearly are pleased with the Sunni leaders rejection of the proposed Constitution, they will, in the long run, come out as losers no matter what transpires in the weeks and months to come.

The Iraqi people have turned a very important corner. They have seen their future. And that futurewill be in the ballot box and not in car bombs.

The current dispute may be viewed as a severe and serious stumble, but the momentum towards freedom and democracy has now passed the point of no return. For most of us, including most Iraqis, this is the answer to prayer!