Earth to Dubya, Come in Dubya
August 31, 2005
By Ken Sanders
Cloistered in Crawford and on permanent vacation, our dear President
seems completely disconnected from reality. Whether it's the cries
of a grieving mother camped at his front gate, or the burgeoning
anti-war movement she inspires, or the snafu he unleashed in Iraq
for no legitimate reason, Bush is utterly out of touch with the
With his free speech zones and by-invitation-only town hall meetings,
our President lives a surreal life in which he is sheltered, like
the child of an over-protective mother, from the harsh truths of
the world in which the rest of us live.
Take, for instance, our President's recent pronouncements regarding
the completion of Iraq's draft constitution. Flush with a confidence
that only comes with delusion, Bush heralded Iraq's Sunni-free constitution
as "an inspiration to all who share the universal values of freedom,
democracy, and rule of law."
Just as long as you're not Sunni. If you are, Iraq's draft constitution
is more of a slap in the face than an inspiration.
By submitting the draft constitution for ratification over the
strenuous objections of the Sunni members of the drafting committee,
the Shiites and Kurds sent an unmistakable message – Iraq's Shiites
and Kurds are more concerned with meeting the Bush administration's
deadlines than they are with transforming Iraq into a sustainable
Then again, maybe the Shiites and Kurds aren't particularly interested
in a unified Iraq.
Under the draft constitution, Iraq would be a federal republic,
with decentralized seats of power. Baghdad, for centuries the seat
of Arabic learning and culture, would no longer have a central role
in Iraq, much less the Arab world. Indeed, under the draft constitution,
Iraq is not even considered an Arab nation. Offended by Iraq's new
non-Arab status, Iraq's Sunnis are also justifiably concerned that
a federal Iraq will ultimately mean a divided Iraq.
Signs of Iraq's splintering are already evident. Iraq's tremendous
oil wealth is concentrated in the north and south of the country.
In the north, the Kurds have already carved out an autonomous region
known as Kurdistan where the Iraqi national flag is nowhere to be
seen and many inhabitants have never visited Baghdad and don't even
speak Arabic. In the south, the Shiites are creating their own autonomous
zone with increasingly close ties to Iran. Sandwiched in the relatively
oil-free center of Iraq are the Sunnis. It's bad enough that the
Sunnis would be left without important oil reserves, the draft constitution
goes one step further and concentrates the distribution of Iraq's
oil revenues between the Kurdish north and the Shia south. The Sunnis
are rendered beggars.
Another insult handed to the Sunnis by the draft constitution
is the document's de-Baathification of Iraq. Notorious as the party
of Saddam, the Baath party consisted largely of Sunnis. While there
were many Baathists who committed atrocities and abuses during Saddam's
reign, there were many more who, as teachers and professionals,
were compelled to join the party. By barring any and all former
members of the Baath party from participating in Iraq's new government,
far more Sunnis than Kurds or Shiites are preemptively disenfranchised.
The point is not that we should necessarily feel sorry for or
pity Iraq's Sunni population. Rather, the real point is that Iraq's
draft constitution bodes poorly for just about everyone. Vowing
to reject the constitution come October, the Sunnis are pushing
to register enough Sunni voters to veto the offending document.
While many Sunnis will try to reject the draft constitution at the
ballot box, there are many who will reject the draft through violence.
By ostracizing Iraq's Sunnis, the Kurds and Shiites have virtually
guaranteed a protracted period of violence and political conflict.
In other words, a full-fledged civil war in Iraq is now that much
If Iraq were to completely (rather than almost-completely) disintegrate
into chaos and war waged upon largely sectarian lines, not only
would the U.S. military's presence be indefinitely extended, but
the entire Middle East region would be further destabilized. That
wouldn't benefit anyone other than those who thrive in chaos - terrorists.
Which is why it is so delusional for Bush to pronounce that Iraq's
draft constitution will only help "make America more secure." So
long as Iraq's draft constitution relegates the Sunnis to second-rate
status, nothing could be further from the truth.
Then again, "nothing could be further from the truth" aptly sums
up Bush and his administration, particularly on the issue of Iraq.
Ken Sanders is a writer in Tucson whose work has been published
by Z Magazine, Common Dreams, Democratic Underground, Dissident
Voice, and Political Affairs Magazine, among others.