August 25, 2005

Constitution, The 2nd

Raed of Raed in The Middle asks a question about the need for a constitution. Another one, that is. Emphasis mine:

... There is a very long list of priorities that need deadlines in Iraq: basic services (e.g. electricity, water, food rations, health care, free education, etc.), basic human rights (the very same rights that are being violated on a daily basis by occupation supported Iraqi military and paramilitary forces), and basic capacity building for Iraqi civil society (i.e. building and rebuilding Iraq’s NGOs and Grassroots organizations).

But why would a country like today’s Iraq have a deadline for their constitution?! What would an imposed constitution achieve in the war-torn country? Shouldn’t the current government try to gain as much public support for writing the constitution before worrying about deadlines? What is the point of doing a rush job on a constitution that has no popular support and is rejected in the public referendum?

... Iraq already has a secular constitution that protects Iraq’s unity and human rights, and gives very important rights to minorities, but this didn’t prevent the Iraqi government before the fall of Baghdad from committing all the mistakes they did. The 1970 Iraqi constitution has many better aspects than the one under construction now, but what would any constitution do in a battle field with no laws like Iraq under occupation? ...

So we invaded Iraq to replace a secular dictator who practiced torture and disappeared people with a theocratic government that practices torture and disappears people. Of course, you can't have important services like that be interrupted, so during the transition, America handled the torture and disappearing. The rule of fearsome secret police has been replaced with the rule of fearsome secret police plus ethnic death squads and foreign terrorists. We set in motion the process that would replace a secular constitution with a hastily thrown together theocratic constitution.

What was our noble cause, again?

Posted by natasha at August 25, 2005 02:27 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |

There was NOTHING "progressive" about the Saddam Hussein Ba'ath Party dictatorship. Just because the Ba'ath Party called itself "socialist" doesn't mean they allowed equal rights for women, provided decent education, or anything else like that.

Just look at literacy rates (and the differences between men and women) in 2003:

Iraq ("progressive" Ba'athists): Male 55.9%, Female 24.4%

Iran (Shi'ite theocracy): Male 85.6%, Female 73%

USA (Bushocracy): Male 97%, Female 97%

Cuba (some Commie dictators can do a few things right): Male 97.2%, Female 96.9%

The fertility rate -- i.e. the number of children a woman is expected to bear in her lifetime -- in Iraq was 5.4 in 2003. In two short years, it has already dropped to 4.28.

By contrast, the fertility rate in theocratic Iran is only 1.82 children per woman. Cuba's fertility rate is 1.66. While the USA fertility rate is 2.08 (just under the supposed 2.1 needed for population replacement).

It seems that the status of Iraqi women improved slightly from when the Ba'ath Party took over in the mid-1960's until Saddam Hussein became the supreme dictator in 1979. After that, Saddam kept taking actions that put women further and further down, further and further behind.

Here's a report on women's rights in Iraq, which I found on a random Google search. It has a lot of useful information:

Posted by: Richard Pope at August 25, 2005 10:58 AM

I never said that the Ba'athists were progressive, I said that they were secular. There's an enormous spectrum between what I consider progressive and what I consider totalitarian. Secular totalitarianism at least tends to oppress everyone about the same, whereas theocratic totalitarianism virtually always oppresses women much more harshly than men. One may be by some criteria less bad, whereby it's preferable to an alternative which is more appalling, though never preferable to some ideal that's better.

Hussein was a secular totalitarian in a country which remained tribal and obviously doesn't even have a very high literacy rate for men. I don't find that in any way comparable to what we have here, but believe that it's probably better for individual rights than a totalitarian theocracy.

Iran is an interesting case because much of the country had truly progressed into modernity under the Shah, and the native cultural mores of many of their ethnic groups are a little more relaxed than those of the Arab culture that dominates in Iraq. Their current government is more Arab, but the majority Persian population and large Turkish minority (for example) don't really share their views of what makes a good society. Their government is a little behind the population, while in Iraq the government was in certain ways a little ahead of the population overall.

Considering the non-change in detention and political assassination policies, we're left with few differences to compare, though they're not insignificant.

Posted by: natasha at August 25, 2005 11:18 PM