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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 real world.

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 democratic nation.

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 more likely.

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.

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