Monday, August 29, 2005

Let the Debate Begin

The Draft of the Iraqi Constitution is here.


archduke f. f. said...

Xtra, I'm happy you provided a link, since I would never have even searched for this.

I've yet to read the whole thing, as I am lazy and not in the mood to analyze a massive document on a lazy (ostensibly) summer afternoon.

Here's what piqued my interest from the first 30 or some-odd articles:

Article (19):

5th -- The accused is innocent until his guilt is proven in a just, legal court. The accused cannot be tried for the same accusation again after he has been freed unless new evidence appears.

=Essentially, no double jeopardy. Unless, of course, new evidence comes to light. It makes that whole Ashley Judd movie premise sketchy if it were to take place in Iraq.

Article (17):

1st -- Each person has the right to personal privacy as long as it does not violate the rights of others or general morality

==I would be a little worried about this, especially considering that the law cannot go against Islam. Therefore, could it be said that a woman not wearing a burqa is violating the general morality? Could it be said that watching a movie with male or female nudity is violating the public morality, even in the privacy of one's own home? It seems that with a law like this a government has to legislate morality, something that doesn't generally work. See: Prohibition.

Article (20): Citizens, male and female, have the right to participate in public matters and enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and run as candidates.

==Happy that this made it in there, although I didn't notice an age limit on voting anywhere. Maybe we'll see 10 year olds at the polls? Okay, I'm reaching on that one.

Article 28

1st -- Taxes and fees shall not be imposed, amended, collected or eliminated except by law.

2nd -- Low-income people should be exempted from taxes in a way that guarantees maintaining the minimum level necessary for a living. This shall be regulated by law.

==Uh oh. How is GW Bush going to handle the welfare state of the Iraqis making? Dear me, how will people ever pull themselves up by the bootstraps if there is a welfare program regulated by law to protect those who can't protect themselves. I suppose in a country like Iraq, a country that will most likely have huge, state-controlled oil revenues, the general populace will be well-off.

Article (29):

1st-- (a) The family is the foundation of society and the state should preserve its (Editors Note: the family's) existence and ethical and religious value.

(b) The state shall guarantee the protection of motherhood, childhood and old age and shall take care of juveniles and youths and provide them with agreeable conditions to develop their capabilities.

==I assume this is an article that outlaws gay marriage, before those Massachusetts liberals get ahold of the impressionable public. Of course, it also protects the rights of mothers and gives welfare to young'uns, so that's nice. It might also outlaw abortion, though I'm not sure how it will be applied, since an abortion could be construed as a destruction of motherhood.

3rd -- Economic exploitation of children in any form is banned and the state shall take measures to guarantee their protection.

==Does this mean no more camel racing? Like in Dubai?

1st -- The state guarantees social and health insurance, the basics for a free and honorable life for the individual and the family -- especially children and women -- and works to protect them from illiteracy, fear and poverty and provides them with housing and the means to rehabilitate and take care of them. This shall be regulated by law.

1st -- Every Iraqi has the right to health services, and the state is in charge of public health and guarantees the means of protection and treatment by building different kinds of hospitals and health institutions.

==I'm impressed with the provisional government's focus on stamping out illiteracy. I suppose, though, that Islam has a long history of encouraging literacy, as it's the only way to read the Koran. The prophet Mohammed, however, was illiterate before the angel gave him the holy Koran, though, wasn't he?

In addition, I like that there is a public healthcare system set up, like they have in Korea. The oil revenues should fill the coffers of medical doctors enough so that they are able to practice medicine at a discounted rate and still enjoy an affluent lifestyle. I know, xtra, that you would probably prefer to have things in the hands of private industry, but it seems that a country that has about 25 million would have an easier time implementing such things than a country with 280 million, no?

Article (32): The state cares for the disabled and those with special needs and guarantees their rehabilitation to integrate them in society. This shall be regulated by law.

==At least we know the mentally disturbed won't be rounded up and shot...

2nd -- Free education is a right for Iraqis in all its stages.

==Does this mean free college? The provisional authority is on the maglev train to education town, seriously. There's an impressive amount of ideas concerning education codified in a federal constitution. At least their government is making education a federal issue in their constitution. GW Bush made education a federal issue w/ his No Child Left Behind act, although it is not one of the enumerated powers and, therefore, should technically be left up to the states. Hmm...Constitution Originalists, let me hear you say "unconstitutional". No, of course not. But then, of course, you believe in an evolving constitution. See for more on strange, strange ideas about a living constitution. (sorry for the sidebar)

3rd -- Forced labor, slavery and the commerce in slaves is forbidden, as is the trading in women or children or the sex trade.

==Don't really know what to say about this one...I'm all for it. I guess I'm just so used to reading the U.S.'s constitution, where slavery wasn't outlawed for almost 70 years. And slaves were 3/5 of a person. Seriously, though, at least it wasn't 1/2. How degrading would that be.

Okay, enough bile about the Framers of our beloved We the People. So far, what I've read of the Iraqi constitution doesn't seem too crazy. By crazy, of course, I mean fundamentalist. And not fundamentalist in a nice way, like Pat Robertson. No, fundamentalist in a mean way, like Sadd-osama. I mean, Osama Bin Laden. I've been watching too many Bush speeches, so sometimes I get the two of them mixed up.

I really hope the Sunnis are able to come to the table and work out the differences with the Shiites and the Kurds, however, and get this/a constitution ratified. I don't know if it will change anything on the ground, but I do know that it will at least create an ideological base for the new Iraqi republic. It won't really change my ultimate view of the war, but it will definitely temper it with something almost pushing towards admiration of the new government in Iraq.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

With regards to Article 17, the clash between privacy and morality, this is sure to prompt legal and political conflict in Iraqi society. Our constitution does not speak specifically to the concept of privacy but since 1962 we have "discovered" its constitutionality and ever since it has been on crash course with general morality laws. Many conservatives, myself included, would argue that the penultimate legal collision has already occured in the form of Lawrence vs. Texas, just that the byproducts are not yet visible. But, I think this concept of what extent does government regulate morality is a normal and unavoidable debate. On a broader level, this constitution, unlike ours, is rather sweeping in some of its provisions. It does appear to provide for a welfare state, and when you have oil, why not. It's worked for Norway. I don't think that should be fleshed out in a constitution but rather I like ours as model in so far is it delineates what the government can and cannot do, and what processes are necessary to change it. But I know to utter such a thing is to befoul the sensibilities of our fair liberal blog readers. But this constitution, like our constitution, will lead to conflict, the question is whether that is the form of armed strife or political negotiating. I don't know how Islam and human rights are reconciled, it is not to say that they can't be, it is just that I literally don't know what these two concepts mean in Iraq (I suspect a lot of different things to a lot of different people) and these two concepts can be reconciled and codified in law in a way that a large majority of the population can be tolerably unhappy with.