Friday, November 21, 2003

"It's the Constitution, Stupid!": Ourselves as Others See Us III 
Introducing Iraq Today, an independent, English-language newspaper in Baghdad.

That's right--the free speech genie is out of the bottle!

Of particular note is this editorial, "It's the Constitution, Stupid!", by Hassan Fatah

The boil-down:

"Few if any Iraqis greeted American tanks with open arms, but many relished the arrival of real American values into the country. Those values are not the clichés of westernization-jeans, McDonald's and Starbucks-but the set of inalienable rights the West takes for granted: representative government, the right to due process, the promise of transparency in government, and the chance for redress...

"But some eight months since the fall of the former regime, it is the violation of those basic American values that has turned off Iraqis once willing to give the Coalition a chance and given the resistance a leg up. Summary arrests by American soldiers ill equipped to deal with the complex political and tribal conditions on the ground, a rebuilding process with no seeming checks and balances and rife with questions of corruption and improprieties, and a legislative process seemingly bereft of any true representation on the ground have all engrained a deep distrust of America's real intentions in Iraq."

"If President Bush and his team really want to make good on their promises of building democracy in this country, their best answer is the constitution. Drafting a constitution is the most important conversation Iraq should be having today. If done right, it will spur discussions on the most fundamental issues facing Iraq: federalism, minority rights, secularism, and religion's role in society, restitution and corruption. It will provide Iraqis with a true roadmap out of occupation, while helping filter out corruption. And most important, the results of the national discussion will provide a binding contract that Iraq will never again fall deep into the abyss of dictatorship, and will flourish a sovereign nation."

Iraqis are finding their voice.



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