Democratic Underground

Mr. Bush, Time for a Reality Check

August 13, 2005
By Ken Sanders

Speaking to reporters in Crawford, Texas on August 11, President Bush once again insisted that the Iraqis finish cobbling together their constitution by August 15. Notably, however, Bush ignored a reporter's question of what would happen if the Iraqis missed their deadline. For Bush and his fellow war-mongers, the notion that the Iraqis might not be able to overcome their differences before the Fifteenth is simply beyond the realm of possibility.

Can it be that Bush & Co. still haven't learned from their egregious mistakes in planning (or not planning, as the case may be) their invasion of Iraq? Going in, the Bush administration naively envisioned something akin to what might have greeted U.S. forces in a John Wayne movie after driving the hated Nazis out of Paris. They saw ticker-tape parades down Iraq's streets and flowers flying at our troops from every direction. They imagined still shots of nubile Iraqi women, their backs provocatively arched, kissing American soldiers.

So intoxicated were they by their romanticized visions of war that Bush and his pals never considered the possibility of an insurgency and thus failed to adequately prepare for one. They were so drunk with arrogant glory that they didn't think it necessary to secure known weapons depots in order to keep them out of the hands of insurgents and terrorists, thereby ensuring the deaths of innumerable U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

Nonetheless, our failure-is-not-an-option President and his cronies seem incapable of acknowledging that Iraq's constitution might not be drafted on time. They seem to think that they can simply will the Iraqis to meet the deadline and avert catastrophe. While one should never discount the power of positive thinking, it would appear that Bush is deluded. If Bush can't even acknowledge the possibility that the constitution won't be finished on time, he certainly can't plan so as to mitigate the resulting damages.

In truth, anyone with the ability to read can see that things in Iraq are pretty grim, including the prospects of a timely drafted constitution. As of August 12, a mere three days before the deadline, Iraq's political leaders agree on only three of eighteen constitutional issues. In other words, with just 3 days to go, the Iraqis have overcome only one sixth of the obstacles to drafting a constitution. What have they agreed upon thus far? Well, Iraq's new official moniker will be the "Federal Republic of Iraq." The peshmerga (the Kurds' militia) will be the official security forces of the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq. Lastly, the "normalization" of Kirkuk (i.e., the return of Kurds who were expelled from the city by Saddam) is to be completed by December 15.

Three out of eighteen ain't bad. It's a start anyway.

In the meantime, however, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) has called for Shiite autonomous zones in central and southern Iraq. Like Kirkuk, Iraq's central and southern regions are oil-rich and highly coveted. Not surprisingly, Iraq's Sunni leadership is none too keen on the idea of being left out of Iraq's oil wealth and has balked at the notion of Shiite autonomous zones.

Also left to be decided in the next three days is the role Islam will play in Iraq's new constitution. This is no small matter. Iraq's Shiite and Sunni leadership both want Islam to feature heavily in the constitution, but see each other as apostates. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that Iraq's Kurds are largely secular and disapprove of, among other things, Islamic law's subjugation of women.

Just imagine if the U.S. constitution were being written today. The religious right would demand that tenets of their vision of Christianity be enshrined in the law. Intelligent design taught in every school (right after morning prayers). Abortion and stem-cell research criminalized and punishable by death. Homosexuals exiled to something resembling a leper colony. The Ten Commandments codified into law and prominently displayed in every government building.

Now, in addition, imagine that the U.S. was under foreign military occupation and that insurgents and terrorists were killing just about anything that moved. Men. Women. Children. Whatever.

It would never get written.

Well, whether Bush wants to admit it or not, that's the reality in Iraq. One can only hope that Bush has planned accordingly. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Bush administration, hope no longer springs eternal.

Ken Sanders is an attorney and 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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